Cookies on the SKF website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our websites and web applications. By continuing without changing your browser settings, we assume you give your consent to receive cookies. However, you can change your browser cookie setting at any time.

Reliable asset performance?

Here are 9 suggestions for further improvement!

Peter Bakkum
Peter Bakkum, Food & Beverage Europe Operation Manager at SKF.

In food and beverage production environment, reliability has been around for a long time. Reliability Centered Maintenance (introduced in the 60’s), Reliability Engineering or Design for Reliability are well known and we all know or think we know what is meant. Charles E. Ebeling defined reliability as "The probability that a component or system will perform a required function for a given time when used under stated operating conditions.”

Reliability matters; it has impact on both OPEX and CAPEX and should therefore be high on the agenda of any manufacturing company.

Ageing assets are a given in today’s food and beverage environment, due to cost pressures, investments are being re-evaluated and postponed where possible. The pressure is on for maintenance and reliability departments to keep the ageing assets performing to their required function for a given time when used under stated operating conditions.

But there is another category of assets that is beyond their infant stage and not yet in their ageing stage. We can call them “mature assets”. Assets that perform reliably, that are not close to end of life but have “survived" the infant mortality stage. These assets are typically not on the radar of a reliability engineer.

Question is, should they be?

When it comes to assets that already deliver a reliable performance, improvements can still be made. And it’s important to know where and when to make them. Let’s look at nine different areas for improvements, grouped into three categories – reducing costs, improving output, and ensuring compliance.

1. Reduce operational cost by reviewing the root cause of cost drivers
Knowing which assets have the greatest impact on the operational cost (KPI= Top 10 Cost Drivers) will give great insight to where potential cost savings can be achieved. Performing Root Cause Analysis on these cost drivers will help you discover areas for modifications that will reduce operating costs. But assets with high cost drivers could also be a target for early replacement; this is economically viable when the current operating costs are significantly higher than investing in new equipment, where the sum of the operation cost plus the depreciation is lower than the current situation.
2. Reduce maintenance cost by reassessing if there is over-maintained equipment
Maintenance costs are significant during the lifetime of an asset. Even though the asset may be performing reliably, an asset can be over maintained. Equally, your maintenance strategy may no longer be aligned to your asset's current operational requirements. Performing a maintenance strategy review might reveal maintenance plans that are being performed too frequently - including the replacement of components.
3. Reduce resources cost – for example energy and water
Reducing energy and water consumption is not only good for business, it’s also good for our planet. Reviewing the amount of energy and water being consumed by your assets is like opening a window into potential savings. For example, reducing friction in the drive train will have a positive impact on energy consumption. And modifying an asset's cleaning regime - without compromising food safety - could save you a small fortune in water consumption. 
4. Improve availability – by reviewing MTBF, MTBR and MTTR
Availability can be broken down into unplanned stops and planned stops (including changeovers). Even if you consider your equipment to be reliable (e.g., no unplanned stops related to equipment failure) there is still plenty of room for improvement that will have a positive impact on availability. First look at improving the mean time between failure (MTBF) through modifications and technology upgrades. Next the mean time between repair (MTBR) by reviewing excessive planned maintenance jobs within your maintenance strategy. And lastly by reducing mean time to repair (MTTR) by optimizing the time for planned maintenance jobs – for example, by performing the right maintenance with the right tools and knowledge.
5. Improve Performance by looking into options for increased speed
Performance can be improved by improving speed and / or improving flexibility. General machine wear can reduce running speed but also the design can be a limiting factor for improving both speed and flexibility. Making small modifications to the design, for example higher temperature rated lubricants or graphite technologies can enhance the speed of your asset and improve its overall performance.
6. Improve Quality through improved yield
Scrap and rework kills the quality performance. Yield can be improved by, for example, eliminating product contamination, improving detectability and / or improving repeatability (by reducing tolerances of manufacturing equipment). Design modifications or technology upgrades can have a positive impact on quality. 
7. Secure food safety though proactive strategies
In sectors like food and beverage, hygienic design can significantly reduce the risk of product contamination. Here the cost of non-compliance is significant. But new advancements such as re-lubrication free technologies provide an excellent solution that reduces risk of contamination from excess lubricants, while also minimising maintenance and cleaning costs.
8. Protect human safety by reducing potential slips and trips
A better running machine is also a safer running machine. And that’s important – not just for your business, but for your peace of mind.  That’s why reducing slips and trips risk areas, as well as eliminating hazardous maintenance activities, reduces the risk of accidents happening. The cost of unscheduled absenteeism can be high because of safety issues, but can cost your reputation even more.
9. Safeguard environmental compliance
Increasingly, companies are realising that the key to world class environmental compliance lies in the details of their operations and maintenance processes. Replacing electric pump motors with higher efficiency units can save energy, but even bigger savings can be achieved from the way such units are operated.

Reducing water and energy consumption as well as cutting back on waste positively impacts both the environment and your bottom line. Solutions like these frequently reduce operating costs while also helping to meet your sustainability targets.

The goal of a manufacturing company is straightforward: produce as much as possible, at the lowest cost, while also being compliance to rules and regulations. Reducing cost, improving output and ensuring compliance, are three areas that all drive “shareholder value” - and asset performance has a direct impact. The fact is, reliable assets are rarely considered for improvement, yet the potential savings can be significant. Especially when partnering with your suppliers and / or services providers - and tapping into their knowledge – significant improvements can be achieved!

SKF logo