Condition-based monitoring.

By Derek Lammel, Reliability Engineer, Dynapar

What is condition-based monitoring (CBM)?

With demand for food and beverage at an all-time high, production facilities must do all they can to reduce downtime. It is critical to not only keep up with demand but also to stay ahead when possible. Weak links in the production line can bring the whole system to a halt, a costly risk for any facility. CBM helps strengthen your food and beverage production line by providing frequent, reliable monitoring of assets and alerting your team of changes in a predictive manner. Inconsistent and irregular condition monitoring can leave room for significant issues with little to no time for corrective action.

The CBM tool “vibration monitoring” looks for increases in the amplitude of vibration.  Unlike temperature or process sensors, which give an alert when conditions change such as heat or material flow and can be related to an entire system, vibration monitoring can pinpoint the actual anomaly that is causing the increase in amplitude. Instead of changing an entire asset such as a motor and fan machine train, vibration analysis may find that only the motor needs to be replaced. Vibration analysis provides insight that saves lead time, labor hours, and unnecessary downtime for the repair of an asset.

Condition-based monitoring tools provide a deeper understanding of a machine’s health status throughout the day and alert you when its condition trend differs. CBM offers a predictive maintenance strategy using sensors while your production line continues to operate. Asset condition is easily accessed online, periodic, and remote for reliable and efficient production.

Figure 1: Conveyor belt along a food and beverage production line. This image illustrates a clean, sterile environment with guarding up beside the conveyor line.

Reliable customized production equipment

The food and beverage industry is notorious for “home-grown,” or customized, production equipment. Custom equipment complicates replacing components due to non-standard lead times and higher overall costs. It is important to know ahead of time if something is fundamentally wrong with an asset rather than waiting until its condition worsens to address maintenance issues. In addition to long lead times, custom equipment can cause costly choke points along food and beverage production lines. If your product needs to run through a piece of equipment and it breaks down, the whole line suffers.

CBM allows you to understand how your production line is performing and helps you avoid lengthy downtime, providing higher overall equipment reliability. Without reliable critical assets, your production line can experience choke points that result in scrapped waste and loss of valuable product. Even if the dollar amount of failed equipment is low, the disruption of the production schedule is not worth the cost of downtime and component replacement. The ripple effect of the interruption to a production schedule is as crucial as product loss.

Closely monitor ventilation conditions

Figure 2 : A remote rooftop fan being monitored by the OnSite system in a food and beverage environment. Remote fans connected to the production process are often bottlenecks and can cause significant disruption to production if they fail.

Proper heating and cooling is essential for production lines in the food and beverage industry. A slight change in temperature can drastically affect production lines, resulting in a spoiled product. Fans in these applications are critical. But, if product build on the blades causes imbalance, it can lead to a catastrophic failure. Ventilation fan or blower failure can also cause improper formation or bake of a product where the only option is to scrap material that could’ve otherwise been profitable. Heating and cooling equipment can often be a bottleneck in that all products need to pass through one oven, leading to a choke point in the event of equipment failure. 

You should closely monitor the condition of your ventilation equipment with vibration analysis technology provided by CBM tools. It is common for material and byproducts to affect ventilator fan blades, causing them to be unbalanced. For example, one production facility used OnSite condition monitoring technology to determine that food particles were sticking to their fan blade, causing imbalance. After identifying the issue, they changed their maintenance routine to be able to recognize a change in equipment condition before it became detrimental. Vibration analysis helps you keep tabs on the current condition of ventilator fans. If a component of the production line is down, they usually all go down. From a fan to a pump, the manufacturing process is profoundly affected by all elements.

Safely monitor equipment after routine cleanings

Most food and beverage production lines have a variety of regulations and physical guards in place to keep the area clean and safe for employees and consumers. Equipment in this environment is easy to see yet tough to access in a safe and timely manner. Condition-based monitoring offers online accessibility that is especially critical to keep these areas as safe and sterile as possible while also allowing you to know the current status of all your critical assets. 

Food and beverage production line equipment is particularly vulnerable following routine cleaning, which involves high-pressure water to remove contaminants. Failures are more likely to occur after the cleaning process because bearings are not appropriately re-lubricated. Food grade grease can only provide proper lubrication if the manufacturer’s specifications are followed and the proper amount of lubricant is applied. Fortunately, CBM tools such as vibration monitoring detect these typed of failures before they become catastrophic.

Conquer production line pains

There are many factors in food and beverage production facilities that can affect how a system performs. Harsh cleanouts and chemicals affect the grease and lubrication of bearings and other moving parts. The abundance of stainless steel and plastic components can bring higher replacement costs. Drip-proof food-grade motors generally have higher force contact seals that run at a higher pressure and cause heating. You can conquer these and many more pains associated with production line upkeep by implementing condition-based monitoring to your critical assets. 

Condition-based monitoring tools allow you to identify where the choke points are in your food and beverage production lines. It is crucial to know where your tolerance for risk lies and where disruption will cause significant production issues. Deploy vibration analysis on critical assets to reduce failures and increase efficiency. Create proactive, rather than reactive, maintenance schedules by recognizing gross defects like misalignment and imbalance before catastrophe strikes. Also, check your CBM data following routine maintenance to ensure equipment is aligned correctly. CBM allows you to know in advance if something is wrong and diagnose the severity. 

Derek Lammel, a Category III Vibration Analyst, has a wide-ranging experience in multiple pillars of predictive maintenance utilizing vibration analysis, thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasound technologies.  Derek spent 9 years in the United States Navy working abroad in the aviation maintenance with Patrol Wing Reconnaissance Squadron 45. Derek joined Dynapar in 2019 and is the subject matter expert in vibration analysis for Dynapar’s product and services. Prior to joining Dynapar, Derek worked for SKF Reliability Systems as a field reliability engineer in various industries such as pulp and paper, steel producing, food and beverage, and mining developing predictive strategies to increase uptime for customers.