Strategies for Timely Equipment Repairs

Tags: maintenance and reliability

Strategies for Timely Equipment Repairs

From initial preparation to packaging, the food and beverage manufacturing sector incorporates a broad range of advanced technologies into highly sophisticated processes. For many enterprises, processing equipment must endure long, punishing production runs that require precise operations and sanitary conditions. All these requirements make the effective and timely repair or replacement of equipment a critical necessity.

Given the vast array of mechanical and electronic parts involved, the seemingly straightforward task of maintaining equipment frequently presents a logistical nightmare that involves farming out components to a variety of specialty repair shops with variable capabilities, quality, pricing and turnaround time. 

Fortunately, the repair services industry is responding by broadening its capabilities to provide more of a one-stop-shop service, often with facilities strategically located near major manufacturers or manufacturing regions. Having a repair service in close proximity means repairs can be completed faster and the maximum possible uptime maintained.

Specialized Equipment

Food and beverage processors typically incorporate manufacturing technologies that are subject to unusual requirements. For numerous production line configurations, plants are dependent on the entire line of equipment running harmoniously. The motors used for food preparation processes must normally operate without fault for long intervals. These motors, many of which are electric, need the proper AC and DC drives to operate efficiently and keep energy costs under control. Some motors are exposed to harsh conditions like washdowns and must be protected from overspray. Pump motors may be fully enclosed, making routine maintenance more challenging.

Modern processing plants also frequently employ human-machine-interface (HMI) panels and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to control equipment automatically and remotely. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are used to automate electromechanical processes, providing systems with the ability to communicate via sensors and other devices.

Given the variety and complexity of machine components, repair or replacement usually involves sending specific components to specialty repair shops. For example, a hydraulic component repair shop does not have the capability to also repair motors, and a motor repair shop cannot replace memory or communication cards in sophisticated PLC systems.

However, where these services can converge are with larger international repair service companies. Due to their size and expertise in many industries from automotive to aerospace, these companies are equipped to offer an array of repair services under one roof. This includes the repair or replacement of components such as servo motors, gearboxes, vacuum pumps, hydraulic cylinders, rotary actuators, etc. 

Regardless of the type of part, it is important to look for a repair company that will conduct an initial evaluation to identify the probable cause of failure, and then repair and test the part according to the manufacturer's specifications and test procedures.

About the Author

Dick Puhl is the director for K+S Services, which has multiple repair facilities worldwide. Puhl has 30 years of experience in the industrial component repair industry, helping provide solutions for nearly every type of manufacturing plant over the years with a major emphasis on the automotive, aerospace, tire, and food and beverage industries.