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SKF gets proactive with bearing maintenance assessment

SKF has enabled food and beverage manufacturers to optimise their maintenance practices with a comprehensive checklist and reporting program.

The Bearing Maintenance Assessment expands SKF’s services from the manufacture of bearings and lubrication to the maintenance of these essential components.

As regulations push the industry to strive for cleaner, greener, and more productive operations, operators must go to great lengths in maintaining peak efficiency.

But efficiency is driven by regular maintenance, and this puts production managers between a rock and a hard place – the downtime of maintenance can be frustrating when productivity is the overarching goal.

However, experienced staff will understand that it’s best to be proactive about maintenance, rather than reactive to malfunction.

SKF Food & Beverage segment manager, Graham Thomas, highlighted the significant productivity gains enabled by the assessment.

“Maintenance must be seen through a lens of pros and cons,” he said. “Of course, machines must be shutdown to perform maintenance, but our assessment offers valuable insights to optimise maintenance practices, ultimately maximising uptime, and performance,” said Thomas.

These troubling times of high inflation and logistical bottlenecks have only exacerbated the need for responsible maintenance.

Through SKF’s Bearing Maintenance Assessment program, its application engineers evaluate customers’ maintenance processes.

The program covers four main pillars of maintenance: basic condition monitoring; machinery alignment; mounting and dismounting of rolling bearings; and lubrication.

Application engineers will conduct a thorough inspection of production lines and the maintenance workshop to assess current practices and available tools.

Based on the findings, SKF’s assessor team will build up a report using its expertise in rotating equipment performance. This report will reveal the status of the customer’s methods, tools, and processes as an unbiased overview of the facility’s maintenance performance, by means of a tailored maintenance maturity radar chart.

The report will also include a comprehensive set of recommendations on how to improve, so that unplanned downtime caused by poor bearing fitting practices can be reduced.

Thomas said it never surprises him how a simple fix can benefit an operation so greatly.

“Approximately 16 per cent of all premature bearing failures are caused by poor mounting methods.

“However, many customers never realise their opportunity to improve bearing mountings until our technicians point it out,” said Thomas.

When it comes to dismounting, maintenance teams must pay careful consideration to the potential reuse of bearings and related components. If they’re to be reused, extra care must be taken to avoid damaging them or applying unfavourable loads.

Similarly, the program can detect if incorrect types or volumes of lubricant are used and whether contaminants are present. An engineer may recommend the use of grease meters alongside single- and multi-point automatic lubrication systems to optimise lubrication efficacy and reduce the risk of bearing failures.

Shaft and belt alignment is another important pillar for assessment. Accurately aligning shafts and belts can prevent many machinery breakdowns and reduce unplanned downtime that results in a loss of production, according to Thomas.

“Shaft and belt misalignment account for up to 36 per cent of all costs related to rotating machinery breakdowns,” said Thomas.

Employing predictive maintenance strategies are essential to any functional food and beverage facility. The Bearing Maintenance Assessment is just another string to an operator’s bow as they monitor factors such as temperature, vibration, speed, sound and visual anomalies.

First things first: A quick review

So, what is the first step to get involved with SKF’s Bearing Maintenance Assessment? Before an SKF engineer visits the site, a customer’s maintenance and reliability team should complete the Quick Maintenance Review self-assessment.

This initial step will serve to clarify intended maintenance practices and establish a baseline against actual practices. Identified discrepancies become pivotal in prioritising problem areas, laying the groundwork for subsequent actions.

Upon completion of the self-assessment, SKF can be engaged further to delve deeper into identified discrepancies and facilitate the process of closing the gap between current bearing maintenance practices and optimal maintenance standards.

Whether a business is only committed to regular maintenance intervals or wants to keep in constant touch with their facility’s performance, SKF has the tools required.

The Bearing Maintenance Assessment is becoming the standard in food and beverage maintenance evaluation, but a Quick Maintenance Review is the first step to success – one that should not be missed.

And when the Australian population is relying on safe and sound food production, there is hardly room to risk a poorly maintained facility.

To review and benchmark your bearing maintenance practices with similar companies from the same industry, please visit https://skf.li/QuickMaintenanceReviewFBMagazine

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