Minimising unplanned downtime, acoustically
Established in 1886, Whitworth Bros Ltd (WBL) supplies flour to the UK’s largest food manufacturers. Operating from production sites in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire and Peterborough, the company supplies flour in bulk loads, as well as bag deliveries.
Looking to minimise the potential for unplanned plant downtime, WBL devised a proactive condition monitoring (CM) strategy. After considering various monitoring options - such as vibration and temperature - the company discovered the MHC range of instruments from Holroyd, part of Parker Kittiwake.
In 2009, WBL invested in the MHC-Memo Pro acoustic monitoring system. Part of the investment involved employing a condition monitoring technician to roll out the system across all three sites.
WBL started collating data capture routes across all WBL sites and, within a short time, commenced data acquisition and analysis. This enabled WBL to take a proactive approach to monitoring and maintenance of the equipment at the company’s Wellingborough and Peterborough sites.
The MHC-Memo Pro identified which machines were in need of remedial action and appropriate preventive maintenance was undertaken as required. Machines that were considered to be beyond routine servicing were withdrawn from service as part of planned maintenance activity.
WBL devised a cost metric calculation to assess the savings to the company off the back of the newly implemented CM activity. The company has found this approach to be beneficial in helping justify the expenditure and resource costs allocated to this particular CM strategy as well as balancing the CM approach against that of machinery failure.
Data collection takes place on a regular basis for all critical plant and machinery. This allows engineering resources to be directed to the plant in need of maintenance and this is organised as part of planned, proactive activity, rather than as a result of a machinery breakdown.
WBL uses a suite of sensors that are compatible with the MHC-Memo Pro system. The standard magnetic mounted sensor is used to collect the majority of information with the handheld, extended probe allowing data capture in hard-to-reach areas. Low-profile sensors have also been installed to allow critical plant data to be gathered. All three sensors are readily connected to the MHC-Memo Pro and data can be captured almost instantaneously.
“The hardware and software associated with the Memo Pro system has been very well designed and constructed,” a WBL representative said. “This functionality is mirrored with the analysis software, which allows new data to be quickly downloaded and compared against historic data for all machines detailed for each production area.”
Currently, WBL carries out routine monthly data capture, supplemented with weekly collections for machines suspected of having an underlying bearing issue. The Memo Pro is also used for one-off readings to help diagnose individual machine issues as they arise.
At the Wellingborough site, data is collected from 2500 separate data points, ensuring a comprehensive dataset that allows machine condition trending.
Existing coverage sees the majority of the Wellingborough site plant captured using the range of standard sensor products, so WBL is now looking at monitoring challenges it faces with oscillatory equipment such as flour sifters.
In collaboration with Holroyd, WBL continues to keep abreast of further advances in condition monitoring technology with a view to further minimising future plant breakdown and maximising production efficiency across all its sites.
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