Come rain or shine, the harvest goes on

For Rob Pickles, who owns an agricultural contracting business in north central Victoria, every job is different from the other. Depending on the season and the type of crop being harvested, he needs to make sure his harvesting and baling machinery can work efficiently through the season without any unexpected downtime.
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Automatic lubrication systems smooth the way for confectionery manufacturer

When an iconic confectionery manufacturer in Western Sydney had complaints about premature failure of their conveyor chains, BSC Sales Service Representative Fady Elchab recommended using Alemlube multi-point lubrication systems to auto-lubricate their chains. This resulted in extending the serviceable life of the chains by more than 100 per cent.

Fady, who regularly checks on the manufacturing plant on behalf of BSC to make sure it is well-supplied with lubricants and other consumable products, says implementing Alemlube’s auto-lubrication solution resulted in a considerable reduction in downtime and labor requirement.

“This manufacturing plant has 12 roller chain assembly lines that help run the confectionery products through various stages in the production process. The chains previously had a serviceable life of only 6-8 months. After installing Alemlube’s automatic lubricators along the line, the chains’ serviceable life has increased to as much as 12, 18, and in some cases even 24 months,” says Fady.

Auto-lubrication has also helped the plant improve operational safety by taking the manual labor out of the maintenance processes, Fady says.

“In food and beverage manufacturing, there are many applications that involve hot processes or are hard to reach for manual lubrication. In these cases we recommend using automatic lubrication systems. For example, our confectionery customer is using Alemlube automatic lubricators to lubricate the bearings in their ovens and combustion fans, which are otherwise regarded as high-risk areas for manual lubrication,” he says.

As a national supplier of industrial solutions, BSC works closely with Alemlube to bring automatic lubrication solutions to a wide range of customers, including those in the food and beverage industry.

John Knight, Alemlube’s Lubrication Systems Product Manager for Australia and New Zealand says of the many operating conditions that can cause premature component failure, few are more predominant than lack of lubrication.

“Chains, particularly in the ovens, will lock up if they are not correctly lubricated, which can cause major downtime and wear and tear,” he says.

“Bearings are also susceptible to premature failure from poor lubrication. Over half of bearing failures happen either from lack of lubrication or contamination. If bearings are kept properly lubricated and contamination-free, their life span can be improved many times over,” he says.

Alemlube multi-point lubrication systems can be designed to lubricate anywhere between 2 to 200 application points simultaneously, providing constant lubrication at desirable pressure and dosage. Among these solutions is the Pulsarlube M Series, which can be set up to lubricate up to eight lubrication dispense points with a single unit.

John says using automatic lubrication systems frees up the maintenance crew’s time to focus on other important tasks.

“When the lubrication systems are installed, the daily drudgery of greasing is taken care of. When the bearings are greased hourly by the automatic lubrication system, bearing failures become less frequent and therefore production efficiency increases. This promotes a positive feedback loop where the maintenance staff can start to focus on preventative maintenance, condition monitoring and planning instead of rushing from one breakdown to the next,” he says.

Through their partnership, the teams at BSC and Alemlube bring extensive expertise on maintenance best practices to their customers, according to John.

“The team at BSC knows and understands their customers very well. Combining this with Alemlube’s experience in design and installation of automatic lubrication systems helps address the customers’ issues related to bearing and lubrication reliability,” John says.

“Many plants tend to put production first and maintenance second. This can be detrimental to the reliability of the operations and the long-term plant health. The collaboration between BSC and Alemlube often gives the customer a new portfolio of tools and strategies to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of maintaining their plant,” he adds.

John’s views are echoed by Fady, who says both BSC and Alemlube are customer-oriented companies.

“At BSC, we are very much driven by customer satisfaction. It is quite common that I meet my customers after business hours or on weekends. That’s because I love my job and I enjoy building relationships with my customers,” he says.

“Because of this strong relationship with customers, they often call me to ask for solutions to their problems and I try my best to either help them or point them in the right direction. And the feedback that I get from customers is that they too love the support that they get from us,” Fady concludes.

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A well grown relationship

The Costa tagline is a promise: well grown. It’s a simple, down to earth statement that’s completely fitting of the leading Australian fresh produce grower. It’s also apt when describing the relationship that’s been cultivated between the BSC Campbellfield branch and Costa’s mushroom farm in Mernda, located on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Costa’s Mernda mushroom farm is the largest mushroom farm in Australia. They harvest both white and brown Agaricus mushrooms and supply to major supermarkets – the punnets that readers see on the shelves of major supermarket chains in Melbourne are likely to have been grown and packed in Mernda.

According to David Quadrino, who plays the dual role of Pre-Harvest and Maintenance Manager at the farm, on average 260 Tonnes or 8 million individual mushrooms are picked every week. They also employ over 500 people onsite and run 7 days a week, 364 days a year – with New Year’s Day being the only day the farm is closed.

It’s a large operation and David is responsible for the process “all the way until the mushrooms are picked” in addition to the site equipment and staff who provide maintenance services, including the security and cleaners. The scope of his job is extensive and as such, he has come to rely on the supply and expertise of BSC’s nearby branch in Campellfield, which is managed by Mark Shaw.

“They’re always available to me when I phone and will go out of their way to supply us with the parts and equipment we need – even if it’s out of their scope,” explains David. “They’re a critical part of our operation, providing invaluable service and products that range from consumables in the workshop to motors, gear boxes and bearings.”

Being available to David and the Costa crew at Mernda is a commitment that BSC Campbellfield manager Mark Shaw and his team take seriously.

“The solutions we provide are all in one, ranging from basic consumables through to the industrial side which encompasses power transmission, gear boxes, bearings and the like,” says Mark. “We go out to the site three times a week to check their consumables and address any needs they have. They have a consumable section that we keep stocked with greases, aerosols, nuts and bolts, cutting disks, abrasives, glues and so on. They also have a hydraulic section to make hoses, and we provide all the fittings for that as well.”

The BSC branch provides a maintenance package to the Costa Mernda mushroom farm, which means they provide a regular and ongoing service, as well as parts and equipment as needed. However, Mark clarifies his team is available beyond the site visit times allocated.

“We provide a reliable service through and through. What that means is we’re available when they need us. As long as they communicate their requirements, we’ll make sure we get that product to them as quick as possible,” he enthuses. “Sometimes it may be challenging to arrange the parts or equipment on time, but we enjoy that challenge and find the result very satisfying. This type of customer is a hidden gem – we really value them and are glad to be the ‘go to’ branch they rely on.”

The level of support the BSC branch provides to the Mernda operation is certainly appreciated. From David’s perspective, the BSC team out at Campbellfield will “always go out of their way” to assist and service the farm’s needs. He provides an example of where Mark organised a replacement oven for the farm’s canteen, despite this piece of equipment being outside the scope of products that BSC typically supplies.

“A few months ago, the oven went in the canteen and I couldn’t find a supplier in our list, so I rang Mark and gave him the oven details. I asked if he could help us out by buying it and charging it to our bill – next thing I know we have a new oven here. The exact replacement needed,” David recalls. “This illustrates the lengths that Mark and the team will go to help us out, and it means a lot to us.”

Importantly, the BSC team out at Campbellfield have an understanding of the farm’s timelines and commitment to production. This translates to providing a fast and efficient service.

“A few weeks back we had an issue with our bag sealers on the spawn lab. Four of the belts were worn and the machine had stopped running. We didn’t have any spares,” explains David. “I rang Trent at the Campbellfield branch and gave him the size I needed. He located the parts out in Dandenong and had them sent to me within 2 hours. Even though I’d advised that production for the day had stopped, he knew I needed the machine to be working the next morning so he just made sure I had the parts as soon as possible.”

All in all, the relationship between the branch and the Mernda farm could certainly be described as ‘well grown’, with a mutual respect for the others’ operation evident.

“I’m a phone person. Many people tend to stick to email these days, but I prefer to speak to someone over the phone,” adds David. “The guys out at BSC in Campbellfield always answer my calls. They’re always there to provide support. It’s a level of service that we take personally because we know they will go above and beyond for us.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au