RS works with heavy building materials giant to improve asset health and reduce costly downtime

Statistics from UK manufacturers show over half of machine downtime is caused by hidden internal faults, yet research also reveals that more than two-thirds of companies lack awareness of when their assets are due for maintenance or upgrade. Without regular attention, equipment is likely to fail more frequently and can significantly hinder productivity.

The use of predictive maintenance technologies like condition monitoring (CM) allows you to monitor the health of machinery and identify minor faults before they become big outages, costing time, money, and even customers.

Omni-channel products and service solutions provider RS works in partnership with businesses to optimise their operations and help them move towards zero unplanned downtime. Bespoke support in the form of CM reduces unexpected maintenance and keeps machines on the move, allowing engineers to schedule cost-effective and planned maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) before ageing, faulty or underperforming equipment takes the lead. 

The challenge
RS has worked alongside a leading building materials manufacturer for the last four years, providing a tailored, onsite CM programme at its Liverpool plant. The site produces a range of asphalt mixes for surfacing applications such as roads, runways, car parks, and driveways and has an annual output of more than six million tonnes.

By visiting customers onsite and using CM diagnostics like vibration analysis, ultrasonic testing, oil analysis, lubrication tracking, and thermal imaging, RS technicians can monitor the resulting data for indicators of failure, like wear, contamination, or excessive heat. These tools help baseline asset performance and flag issues early, as well as diagnose potential causes. Site Services Technicians from RS visit the site monthly.

As part of the routine condition monitoring checks, the RS Technician, Carl Boyce, discovered an issue in a critical piece of equipment: the hot stone elevator, which transports hot aggregates. Carl explains: “The use of infrared thermography picked up that the NDE bearing was emitting intense heat, while the plastic seal around it had begun to melt and distort. Vibration analysis also confirmed the issue.”

The Solution
Vibration analysis is a key CM tool used to identify underperforming machinery and flag potential issues. In this instance, the predictive maintenance method was essential in picking up the fault early. Had the asset failed during use, it would have halted production and shut down the entire plant.

Early identification of the issue also stopped the potential for secondary damage to the shaft and gearbox. Had this occurred, it could have led to the need for a brand new shaft and motor/gearbox, significantly increasing the end cost for parts, alongside the impact of forced and potentially lengthy downtime. On discovery of the issue, the technician was able to inform the customer immediately. Once production for the day had been completed, the bearing was replaced, removing the risk of an unexpected outage.

The Outcome
Had the NDE bearing failed, the potential cost of downtime was estimated at around £60,000, with considerably higher costs if the shaft and gearbox had also been damaged as a result. By supporting the customer with a robust CM programme, RS has helped flag issues before they could significantly impact the site’s operations. It has also led to a general improvement in asset health and a reduction in downtime at the plant.

Stuart Eccles, Technical Team Leader, RS Maintenance Solutions adds: “Implementing a CM programme can reduce downtime by 40 percent, cut maintenance costs by half, and extend the lifetime of assets by a third. “It’s an essential tool in an effective predictive maintenance strategy, giving you an insight into the health, condition, and performance of machinery, and flagging
any inefficiencies or potential for failure. Having a tailored CM programme means our customers can put their maintenance resources and budget in the right place at the right time. Crucially, in an age of rising energy prices, implementing CM can also identify areas of wastage and cut energy losses and the associated costs, too.”

Find out more about RS Maintenance Solutions here.