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Condition monitoring for the food processing industry

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By Simon Jagers

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There are a huge number of different steps that go into the production of everyday food products. Many of those processes are reliant upon electric motors, which can sometimes fail.

These processes often need to run 24/7, and any losses in production can result in fulfillment failure fines (for failing to deliver the required quantity). This exacerbates the cost of downtime, which is something producers are very keen to avoid.

SAM4 condition monitoring provides real-time insights into the health and performance of the motors that drive critical food production processes. SAM4 can detect a fault up to 5 months before that fault causes a motor failure, giving your maintenance engineers sufficient time to repair or replace the motor before unplanned downtime occurs.

Based on feedback from our customers, below are a list of the most critical processes in the food processing industry, as well as how SAM4 can be used to make each process more reliable.
 

Steam pumps

In many factories, pumps are used to transport steam to the necessary location in the food production process.

If these steam pumps fail, the consequent drop in pressure can result in heat loss. Heat is expensive to generate, and so the breakdown of steam pumps can equate to an expensive downtime event.

As you can imagine, the pumps used to transport steam can get quite hot, and this poses a problem if you need to install delicate condition monitoring sensors directly on the asset. SAM4 measures motor current from within the motor control cabinet. This means the condition monitoring system will continue to function, regardless of the temperature of the pump.
 

Agitators

Agitators are run by electric motors, and are used to mix different substances together inside a tank.

The mixing process is often quite complicated, and requires a specific list of actions to be taken over a number of days. If the agitator breaks during that time, then the product may need to be disposed of. This is expensive in terms of both the disposal itself, and the plant’s inability to create more while the agitator is down.

SAM4 can detect developing faults in agitators well in advance of a breakdown—which means the agitator can be fixed while it’s not in use.
 

Conveyors

Conveyor belts are frequently used in the food processing industry to transport goods to the next area of production, and are often required to run 24/7.

Conveyors also rely on other conveyors to keep the product moving. This means that if one conveyor breaks down, then other conveyors being used in the same process must also stop. This domino effect can result in:

  • product spoiling while it’s stranded on the production line
  • product being loaded onto a stationary conveyor, which could result in spilled product and cleaning

This knock-on effect is why a conveyor breakdown can become quite costly for the production process.

SAM4 condition monitoring can be used to monitor conveyor systems 24/7, removing the need to regularly deploy maintenance professionals to manually assess a conveyor’s condition. As mentioned, SAM4 can detect a failure up to 5 months in advance, giving the maintenance team sufficient time to schedule repairs during planned downtime and replace the defective conveyor motor while it’s not in use.
 

Refrigeration compressors

These compressors are a key feature of the refrigeration process. If the refrigeration compressors fail, then goods cannot be kept at the required temperature, which may result in product being thrown out.

A longer downtime event may also require production to stop, as there is nowhere to store the new product.

SAM4 condition monitoring can detect a compressor fault up to 5 months in advance of the fault causing a failure. This gives your maintenance team time to schedule repairs when the fridge is empty or isn’t needed.
 

Air compressors

Compressed air is used in a number of ways in the food production industry, including:

  • cleaning containers before they’re filled with food
  • blowing the crumbs off fresh bread before it’s packaged
  • operating actuators, rotaries and grippers

As compressed air is so integral to a variety of different processes, air compressors can be situated in multiple places within a plant. This makes attaching condition monitoring sensors directly to the asset quite inconvenient.

SAM4 can monitor the condition of multiple air compressors from inside the motor control cabinet, meaning you can install condition monitoring for your air compressors quickly and easily, without attaching sensors on each individual asset.
 

Book a demo

To find out more about how condition monitoring could make your food processing plant more reliable, contact our business development manager René Wellens by filling out our contact form.

Resources

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