KCF Technologies Blog

Northeast paper plant gains competitive advantage with predictive maintenance

By Ben Lawrence

Ensuring smooth functionality of a winder machine is a herculean task. First, it’s huge. It’s impossible to get a sense of the scale of one of these machines without standing next to it. Second, it’s multi-faceted, made up of various components performing different tasks that must work together in concert. Third, it’s complex, constantly running under different conditions, loads, paper types and combinations of other factors.

The critical points within a winder machine that must operate at optimum performance are numerous. To monitor the health of each point has been difficult and hazardous; to get a picture of the machine’s overall health, under different operating conditions, has been impossible.

Enter preventive maintenance. Change out components, replace parts, run your machine to failure. The reality is that preventive practices will catch and avoid a failure only 20% of the time. That’s right—80% of the time, preventive maintenance is a waste of resources. Worse, each preventive operation comes at the risk of safety to your crew or accidental damage to your equipment.

Now there’s a new way, as a small paper plant in the Northeast learned after reaching its breaking point. Literally.

Facing recurring failures on its winder, the plant called on KCF Technologies engineers to add our SmartDiagnostics® sensors to critical points on the machine. Onsite set ensured that every sensor was properly placed and figured to alarm threshold, and ongoing monitoring by KCF’s team yielded quick troubleshooting. Our engineers’ analysis of the data captured by the sensors revealed not only which component in the machine was failing, but also WHY it was failing. The component was undersized and unable to handle the pressure being applied by the machine.

Enter predictive maintenance. Tools like SmartDiagnostics® sensors are changing the game by letting you catch failures under changing and unique operating conditions and isolate individual component failures more quickly.

Even more impactful, predictive monitoring allows our engineers to study the entire machine or system, NOT just the health of an individual component at a specific point. The resulting analysis indicates WHY a failure is recurring, in the case of our plant in Pennsylvania, or how to predict and avoid failures in the future.   

With downtime costs at as much as $40,000 per hour for a winder machine—plus the cost for temporary fixes and lost customers—predictive maintenance has been a game-changer for this small Northeast paper plant. After more than a century, the plant is regaining a competitive advantage by getting predictive.  What they lack in size and power they make up for with the intelligence and agility offered by SmartDiagnostics® predictive tools.

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