With the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic reaching its peak in late March, the demand from shoppers for everyday items has left supermarket shelves severely depleted and applied further pressure to commercial suppliers, with the manufacturers of canned goods being particularly affected.
While the initial buying surge has slowed somewhat, the demand for canned goods, in particular, remains extremely high. As a result, many commercial canning facilities are working flat out to meet supermarkets requirements. This increased production regime could jeopardize routine planned maintenance breaks and potentially lead to machine failures, breakdowns etc. If you’re a production or maintenance manager, what can you do to ensure your equipment gets the attention it needs?
Be proactive, not reactive
Many canning facilities will have total planned maintenance (TPM) schedules in place. These interventions can include preventative, corrective, predictive & condition-based maintenance and will vary in time depending on the work required. For instance, if a particular machine component is predicted to require replacement after say 500 hours of running, any increase in production periods will mean a corresponding reduction in the predicted life of this component.
If periods of downtime previously allocated to routine maintenance are now being used to increase production, maintenance technicians will need to be proactive rather than reactive with their approach to monitoring machine condition. For example, if a line is due to start production at 07:00, could a mini audit be carried out prior to startup?
Look out for windows of opportunity
Following on from the point above, you will need to look out for other windows of opportunity. For example, changes between certain varieties of Infant Formula powder dictate intense cleaning purges are carried out to absolutely ensure there is no chance or cross-contamination. While these change over periods may be less predictable due to increased production demands, this period of downtime should not be missed and could be the perfect opportunity to carry out routine maintenance elsewhere.
Make sure you have parts and skills ready
Maintaining close contact with a reliable source of targeted engineering expertise has never been more important. A good service partner like PSA will be well-positioned to promptly assist with all your can seamer related requirements, from manufacturer-approved oils and lubricants to machine spares. Remember, increased production output is likely to lead to accelerated machine wear & tear. Be sure to have effective access to the expertise and supplies you may need.
Listen to the people who use the machinery
Finally, most of us spend a lot of time in our cars and become “tuned in” to their sound and performance. Similarly, your machine operators will become accustomed to the performance characteristics of the equipment they operate on a daily basis. As such, they are very well placed to notice any changes, strange noises, the appearance of lubrication leaks, abnormal amounts of wrecks etc. So why not ask these operators if they have noticed anything different during this period of increased production pressures? While they may be technically trained to rectify these issues, they are very well placed to spot them. Asking your operators to keep a log of any changes they notice, including leaks, corrosion and temperature fluctuations could help you to schedule maintenance much sooner than you may have done in the past.
Ultimately, ensuring your maintenance schedule mirrors the increase in production may mean doing things differently for the time being. Every opportunity to access, plan & maintain your canning equipment should be taken. Pneumatic Scale Angelus UK are well placed to assist and support you during this particularly challenging time.