Making the Grade
A combination of reactive and planned preventative maintenance is supporting the operation of an egg grading facility.
When shopping at the supermarket or eating at a restaurant, you want to be assured that your food has undergone proper quality checks. These checks can be quite the challenge for a foodstuff as delicate as eggs.
Grading eggs is a specialty of grading facilities which quality check eggs from nearby prior to distribution. One such facility operates a wide array of equipment that requiring regular repairs and spare parts from electromechanical engineering contractor and electric motor specialist, Rotamec.
Eggs are a staple for many of us, which means there is a high level of demand for the produce irrespective of season. Consumers will only settle for quality produce, so grading facilities assesses each egg that reaches its processing lines from partnered farms before packaging. By checking for any imperfection with specialist equipment, grading ensures every egg is in optimum condition before it is packaged and delivered to customers. With millions of eggs passing through grading facilities each year, keeping specialised equipment running is especially important in helping shops meet the demand.
However, the more specialised your equipment, the harder it is to repair or replace parts in the event of a failure. Lead times from OEM’s are often unforgiving, which in the pressurised world of food supply adds further stress for operators.
Rotamec business development executive, Darryl Beecham, explains: “We have to react quickly to minimise downtime. For example, the customer required a double-sided open length timing belt to keep a conveyor operational after a failure of the OE part. The cost of downtime on this machine is around £3,000 an hour, so lead time was all important. In this case the maintenance team decided to order two parts, one from us and one from the OEM, to maximise their chances of getting the machine back up and running the same day.
“We were able to deliver the belt in 2 hours, while the OEM took 6 hours. Ours was installed and the OEM item added to spares. All in all, we managed to save them roughly £12,000 in downtime costs.”
The egg grading facility operates varied motors and gearboxes, reliable supply of a wide range of standard parts from a single supplier is important in keeping equipment running. Maintaining an inventory of stock and same-day parts delivery is essential to maintaining production.
Engineers at both companies understand reducing downtime is one thing but preventing it quite another, and build redundancy into maintenance and repair operations. By undertaking asset inspections and identifying ‘showstoppers’ – equipment that risks overall uptime if it fails, the engineers are prioritising maintenance to focus on the most critical assets.