Ensuring machines are always operating efficiently is a priority. The need to fit in with just-in-time manufacturing and delivery schedules means the damage done by unexpected downtime gets amplified. There’s no latent capacity waiting to pick up the slack, no spare stock ready to ship.

Downtime costs UK manufacturing more than £180 billion every year*. Faulty machinery is responsible for around £31,000 in losses per company, and an astonishing 70% of businesses accept downtime erodes customer satisfaction. 

Condition monitoring uses sensors, oil analysis and the tracking of lubrication levels to detect faults before they become apparent and avoid unscheduled outages. The data generated also improves preventative maintenance so that it is based on the actual performance of components in service. Maintenance Solutions from RS can help take the complexity out of the process of condition monitoring.

The challenge
Blood plasma products are a vital element in the treatment of cancer, haemophilia and some immune conditions. They are also used during transplant operations. Keeping supplies flowing is essential to saving lives.

A major pharmaceutical company, which produces £1 million worth of plasma products every day, was unable to predict production failures caused by the breakdown of sterilising oven fans.

Without sterile containers to transport the product, the whole production process had to be stopped. It also resulted in the loss of plasma donated by the public. And because of the location of the fans, the breakdown led to a shutdown of at least four days.

In the absence of any other solution, the company was using time-based inspections to avoid breakdowns; these were included in scheduled plant shutdowns over 10 days each year.

The solution
The RS Maintenance Solutions team and the customer agreed that online condition monitoring was the best way to prevent breakdowns − by continuously checking the condition of the fan’s bearings, 24 hours a day.

As well as alerting staff to imminent failures, the monitoring provided performance data that allowed for more accurate planning of routine maintenance, which in turn eliminated the risk of sudden breakdowns altogether.

A Siemens condition monitoring system which supplied and used which linked to the site’s existing cloud-based data repository.

The outcome
The customer is now able to predict and plan maintenance and avoid the loss of vital medical products. Planned maintenance also reduces downtime − from the four days needed to resolve a breakdown, to just two days for scheduled overhauls.

The installation process also uncovered a major problem which could have seriously disrupted production if left undiscovered. While testing the equipment on the last day of a planned shutdown, overload messages were seen.

The RS Maintenance Solutions team checked the cable and installed a new sensor, but the message persisted. On further investigation, the team found that a bearing within the fan unit was in a failing condition and would not have lasted until the next planned maintenance in six to nine months’ time.

Extending the shutdown by two days was unwelcome news for the customer but finding the fault in time saved the company around £4 million in lost production.

By contrast, the replacement fan cost £20,000, resulting in a return on investment of less than two days.

To find out more about how Maintenance Solutions from RS can help you create the right condition monitoring strategy for your business, or to learn more about our other services, please visit our website.