Degradation Found – Breakdown Avoided

PEME's Ryan Meierhofer

PEME Mechanical Apprentice, Ryan Meierhofer, is taking the experience and skills he’s learnt, from working at various PEME sites, to add value working within the maintenance team of a major food producer by detecting and correcting degradation and helping prevent production downtime by avoiding the breakdown that would have occurred.

When conducting routine preventive maintenance checks on one of our client’s most production critical assets (a stainless steel conveyor belt), Ryan (pictured), noticed that some of the tracking rollers had seized. The tracking rollers are a case-hardened bearing which has a groove machined into the body to prevent the belt from tracking off-centre; these must be hardened, as the roller needs to be harder than the band otherwise it would fail to track. If the seized rollers had not been detected this would have resulted in the bearing rubbing against the stainless steel band, generating heat and friction, eventually causing the belt to wear. The band would also not be able to self-track when running off-centre, trigging the bands “tracking sensors” and stopping the band, causing and a significant negative impact on production.

These rollers were re-designed and installed by PEME in the past, as the original rollers typically had a very poor MTBF of a little over a week, which was obviously unacceptable.  Since PEME installed and maintained the re-designed version they have lasted over seven years with the aid of routine maintenance including lubrication.

Ryan recognised the risk of this failure to future production and immediately raised a notification and conducted the Corrective Maintenance required to return the asset to full functionality; this involved freeing the rollers and applying a new coat of lubricant. Barrie Robinson (PEME Associate Director responsible for maintenance contracts) said “our engineers find developing-failures like this on a regular basis during our Asset Care programs but it is pleasing that Ryan has understood the importance of spotting, reporting and dealing with these types of faults to ensure we lose no production”.