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Condition monitoring services for a crisp producer

12 November 2017

A crisp producer relies on Schaeffler UK for vibration analysis and thermographic surveys 

Schaeffler UK is providing route-based monitoring services to a UK-based producer of crisps. By analysing the vibration data from a range of plant and equipment at the site, it is possible to detect any damage to components such as rolling bearings and gears early, therefore reducing unplanned downtime and prolonging the life of the equipment. In addition, the company provides regular thermographic surveys of electrical panels in order to detect faulty electrical components early.

Crisp production at the plant is round the clock with incoming raw potatoes washed, peeled, sliced and fried. Flavour is added and the crisps are then bagged and packaged ready for delivery to customers.

As part of its service contract, Schaeffler UK provides regular on-site vibration monitoring, analysis and thermographic surveys to the customer. A field service engineer visits the plant periodically to collect vibration data, which is analysed and a report is compiled for the customer.

Vibration measurements are taken to identify deterioration of rolling bearings and other general mechanical components on a variety of plant and equipment at the site, including small motors, gearboxes, pumps and fans. 

Vibration measurements are made and stored using Schaeffler’s FAG Detector III handheld vibration monitoring device. With its built-in software, ‘Trendline’, which includes a database of more than 20,000 different bearing products from different suppliers, this enables the user to collect, store and analyse vibration measurement data. Used in combination with the data viewer, the bearing database can be used to assess machine condition. Up to four different characteristic values can be stored and displayed against one measurement point (several defect bearing frequencies can be checked efficiently using a single measurement point).

The three basic measuring parameters are velocity (a measure of overall machine vibration that responds to mechanical issues such as imbalance, misalignment and looseness), acceleration (typically used to monitor gear defects and progressing bearing defects) and enveloped acceleration (a measure of high frequency, impact-type events, typified by early bearing or gear faults).

The report typically includes acceleration and/or velocity trend plots that show alarm limits (red and yellow lines) and how the vibration data has varied over time.

This report allows the engineer to recommend any repairs or remedial action that is required. If bearing wear is found to be the cause of high vibration levels on a gearbox, for example, this can be reported to the customer, who can then source the appropriate bearings and plan precisely when the maintenance work i.e. replacing the defect bearings, can be carried out without disrupting the rest of the plant.

From a recent site visit, an engineer analysed the data and compiled a report for the customer. This included a list of recommended actions on those items of equipment that had exceeded the pre-defined alarm limits. For example, it advised the customer to check the grease levels on certain pieces of equipment. It also reported on other more general mechanical issues such as imbalance of fans and rotor blades, and misalignment of belt and pulley drives. It also recommended that the customer checked fasteners and housing bolts on particular items of equipment such as gearboxes that were showing signs of mechanical looseness.”

Thermal imaging of electrical panels
Thermal imaging technology produces fast, accurate results in a real time, high resolution illustration, enabling engineers to detect problems that otherwise may be overlooked. Remedial work can therefore be carried out before costly system failures or production stoppages occur.

At the crisp production plant, a Schaeffler field service engineer normally conducts a site survey of electrical panels and control cabinets using a handheld thermography camera, which incorporates a built-in digital camera and customised reporting software. Equipment checked includes fuses, switchgear, wiring and cabling. Hotspots are often caused by loose wiring or cabling, a defective fuse or the fault could be due to some faulty equipment further down the line. 

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