In an attempt to ensure proficiency and efficiency of machines, maintenance becomes important because it ensures that the tool run as expected (Bansal, Evans & Jones, 2004). In addition, maintenance prevents the breakdown of machines that could otherwise lead to the escalation of the operation cost (Ambani Li & Ni, 2009). Particularly, lubrication is one of the most commonly used methods of maintaining machines bearing in mind that it is not only inevitable but also provides a cheap alternative to the management. In essence, it is a preventive measure that protects the moving parts of the machines so that they do not wear out and even cause much damage (Bensoussan, & Sethi, 2007). This paper will discuss some of the themes related to improper lubrication of machines in dairy production.
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Case Study on Lubrication and Non-Correlative Maintenance
A dairy farm has been incurring problems with their bearing system, especially in their vibrating box that conveys power to the moving parts of the machines. The bearings failed prematurely when the machine was running so that the reliability of the conveyor was not assured. Having experienced this problem for a considerably substantial period, the company requested SFK to provide technical expertise in order to fix the problem. SFK established that the frequent failures were occasioned by high humidity levels in the firm, irregular lubrication, and hot conditions that led to intense evaporation of water.
The whole system had four bearings, but it was reported that one of those bearings failed and led to the malfunctioning of the other three. During the failure, the company lost 29500 Sterling pounds due to additional repair and lack of production. SKF advised the company to install a ProFlex system that lubricated the machine automatically. As a result, the bearing lifetime was increased by six years, and the unplanned downtimes were reduced substantially. Expectedly, the company saved about 140 thousand Sterling Pounds.
Preventive and Predictive Maintenance
In relation to the above case study, it is evident that the problem incurred by the company was conjoined to issues of preventive and predictive maintenance. In this case, SFK established that the company had neglected frequent maintenance, although the company operates in an environment where there are high humidity and water. In fact, it was revealed by the SFK’s analysis that the company did not conduct routine lubrication of the machine. Preventive maintenance is a fundamentally vital aspect of machine handling because it helps to avoid gradual and chainlike depreciation of machines.
One of the most important undertakings relating to preventive maintenance is frequent inspections. The inspections make sure that any arising issues are identified in time and solved before evoking further afflictions. The best approach to conducting the inspection is making a schedule that is followed in light of evaluating these machines (Bensoussan & Sethi, 2007). Nonetheless, the frequency of inspecting machines should be based on the tasks of the machines. Machines that work for a very long time should undergo more frequent checkups than the ones that are used from time to time. There are various inspecting services done to the machines, including checks for functionality, making adjustments, testing for corrosion, and conducting evaluations to recommend repairs (Deshpande & Mahant, 2013).
On the other hand, predictive maintenance aims at evaluating the condition of a machine in order to project when the repairs should be done. In essence, this maintenance is essentially critical when it comes to scheduling since it determines when the various tasks should be performed. In other terms, it is an element of preventive maintenance, since it is one of the bases of preventing emergency failures and breakdown.
Having in mind that these machines were complicated, they had many components that helped in the operation. In essence, each component required certain specifications of lubrication. The potential difficulty arose when the components were not lubricated properly in accordance with factors such as the type of oils used and the operating conditions (Deshpande & Mahant, 2013). Importantly, the operating conditions of a component are mainly concerned with the speed at which it is moving during the operation of the machine. Expectedly, poor consideration of these aspects might lead to improper lubrication that can cause the ultimate breakdown of the machine. Since the machines were run using four bearings, the expertise should have considered them separately. This is portrayed by the fact that one of the bearings was destroyed before. Probably, the bearing was exposed to poor environmental and operational conditions that necessitated more attention.
As for the dairy industry, there is a lot of humidity that is created by water, and the milk used in manufacturing various products for consumption. This implies that the air full of water vapour, which is essentially critical to the process of machine breakdown (Kubzin & Strusevich, 2006). In this regard, increased atmospheric moisture is capable of intensifying the process of rusting in the machine. As a result, it poses a major challenge to the maintenance of such machines. Accordingly, the possibility of rusting implies that technical experts must consider the level of humidity when lubricating the machines (Raza & Turki, 2010). In essence, the consideration must incorporate the humidity exposure of each component. Since each of the components is exposed to different levels of humidity, they require some lubrication specifications that correspond to the risk exposure to them (Park, 2009). Basically, the components that incur much humidity should be lubricated often.
Water in the Lubrication System
In the dairy industry, water is mostly used in the process of manufacturing the intended products. Additionally, the entire process also produces water, since the largest component of milk is water. As a result, the lubrication system is vulnerable to having water so that the normal operation is impeded (Takahashi, 2011). The presence of water in the lubrication system is a dangerous eventuality as far as the operation of the machine is concerned (Reddy & Yang, 2010).
In this case, water is less dense so that it can float on the surface of lubricants such as oil (Suslov & Medvedev, 2010). When the machine parts come into contact with the water, they are vulnerable to rusting, since water can trigger a chemical reaction that forms iron oxide (Sathyan et al., 2010). The Iron oxide, which is commonly referred to as rust, leads to corrosion of the machine components and ultimate breakdown (Reddy, Nouari, & Yang, 2010). In fact, the dairy industry is quite sensitive because the rust can compromise the purity of the products if the rust contaminates them.
It is evident that lubrication is one of the inevitable, preventive, and cheap methods of maintaining machines. It ensures that the moving part does not come into contact to corrode each other and destroy the machine. Further, it has been established that there are problems related to the dairy industry in regard to lubrication. These problems also include a high level of humidity that favours rusting and ultimate corrosion of machines. Additionally, the lubrication systems of dairy industries are vulnerable to getting water. This water can compromise the system and cause improper lubrication occasioned by rusting.
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Bensoussan, A., & Sethi, S. (2007). The Machine Maintenance and Sale Age Model of Kamien and Schwartz Revisited. Management Science, 53(12), 1964-1976. Web.
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