What do you do when the Fryer or Oven Bearings collapse again?
Fryer and Oven Bearings suffer the most extreme environments including chemicals, excessive heat, moisture and product debris.
Fryers and Ovens in process operations are some of the most extreme environments that equipment has to operate in. Bearings in particular with their close tolerances and moving parts are the top of the failure list even if they are maintained at or above the manufacturers specifications.
One of the issues is that equipment manufacturers specify bearings that prove unreliable over time, not due to their design function but due to the environment that they have to perform in. They will be working within cost constraints and usually little regard for reliability over time of bearings.
The problem is that if your Fryer or Oven has a collapsed bearing in production this is no inconvenience to the equipment manufacturer, but you have a big problem now with your customer and production schedule. The costs when I have ran cost benefits are multiple, standing labour due to downtime, missed production, products crossed off, quality issues on restarting, waste in all streams, power and ingredient yields, labour to repair, the list goes on and you best hope you retrieved all those missing bearing parts!
I have experienced issues like this in the past and when confronted with it asked Why? The initial remarks were, "it is something that happens and we make sure that there is a stock of spares on hand". The big problem was that the true cost of one incident wasn't known, no one had ever looked as it was always front and centre to win the next battle; and people were rewarded for saving the day.... again and again.
This to me was bizarre so I set about finding a solution by investigating the CMMS, talking to maintenance, operators, production and planning. Some were frustrated whilst others just accepted it.
I found that there were multiple issues that caused these bearings to collapse, just a few of them were, chemical ingress (caustic), seal failure, lubricant washout, mixed greases, planned maintenance, production schedule, heat, debris and alignment; most of the problems were environmental.
The OEM specified bearings were fine until these environmental issues impacted, then the lifespan plummeted. Interventions to get production back on line quickly introduced more issues that further impacted the future reliability.
My conclusion was that the standard format of grease lubricated bearings had proved not fit for purpose so I looked for a non-lube or solid lube solution. I eventually found a U.S. manufacturer that remanufactured standard bearings and was re-engineeering them with plain polymer inserts or filling the grease void with a high temperature polymer; EDT Corp is a Washington State manufacturer that has recently been purchased by the Timken Company.
EDT Corp Stainless Steel 2AD Housing with 30mm Polymer Filled Insert
There was going to be a cost involved so I sold the benefits to the Engineering and Maintenance Managers, they agreed to trial it so I ordered a complete set to retro fit into a hot oil fryer.
The guarantee from EDT was for 18 months between change outs which would be excellent as from experience one bearing failure incident would more than pay for the components; we had more than one a year.
When fitted I also removed multiple PMs associated with greasing, the Food Grade grease was another saving, labour was saved and then the other potential savings talked of before.
All I needed now was to make sure all shifts and maintenance knew and would leave well alone and report back any issues. There were none, I had a planned in a full change at 18 months which due to production demand was pushed out to 21 months.
I made sure that I retrieved all the used bearing inserts along with the locations they came from and removed the shields to examine the internals; they were in excellent condition with some life still left in them.
This study then justified the retro fitting of another fryer that had also experienced unplanned downtime due to bearing failures. There was a confidence now that the pay back was there and it was the right thing to do.
Planned maintenance on each fryer was cut by 40 hours per annum and lubrication spend reduced by £400 per fryer, stock hold was reduced, confidence also increased as operations now knew service levels would not be reduced by another bearing issue.
I continued to track the reliability of fryer bearings and changed out the first fryer four and a half years later with no unplanned downtime due to bearing failures.
Talks took place between Process, Engineering, Projects and manufacturers, after much discussion EDT Corp bearings were specified as an OE part installed on subsequent new fryers.
Having tracked the reliability over many years I can report that this solution delivered over 23 years in total of reliable service across all these critical assets, a remarkable achievement. So successful that fryer breakdowns became a rare and unexpected occurrence.
Take a look at the Rotating Solutions page for more about EDT Corp products for Food Safe environments and extreme conditions.
Contact me to have a chat about Reliability, Lubrication, Condition Monitoring, Training or anything else engineering based; I may be able to help you with your reliability issues.
Thanks for taking the time to read the post, cheers.