It's standard procedure for hungry diners across the country to open their cupboard door and open a can of soup - for a meal, for flavoring, for an ingredient in a recipe. Yet the recipe for keeping the food processing operations running according to standard procedures is anything but simple. The slightest problem can cause the largest headaches. The failure of one small part can cause machinery breakdown, lost production time and lost revenue.
A leading food processor on the East Coast, processing millions of cans of food annually, was experiencing just such difficulties: minor, annoying problems that were causing extended maintenance. Any process, procedure or product that contributes to the plant's efficiency is indispensable when margins are tight and customer service expectations run high. This food manufacturing plant contacted Lovejoy to perform a coupling analysis on their existing applications. The plant processed millions of cans of soup every year, so preventive maintenance for plant efficiency was a strategic move.
The analysis uncovered the fact that the process pumps used in the kitchen area, as well as the can seamers in the cannery process, were utilizing a standard sleeve coupling consisting of cast iron flanges and a rubber sleeve. This type required a great deal of time to change the element upon failure. The flanges had to be moved for element removal. In addition, the washdown chemicals were causing the coupling hubs to rust onto the shafts.
At least four times per year, during strategically scheduled preventive maintenance time, the company had to change these elements, a task requiring at least five to six hours per pump. With eight pumps in one area of the plant, that task required quite a bit of time the maintenance crew could spend on other, valuable maintenance procedures. In addition, any rusted equipment makes it more difficult to comply with USDA regulations for food plant operations.
Lovejoy replaced the couplings with stainless steel hubs and the Jaw-In-Shear 6 Pin element and ring. The Lovejoy stainless steel hubs were less expensive than traditional stainless steel couplings and provided a rust-preventative solution. The Lovejoy Jaw-In-Shear 6 Pin is made up of a urethane, wrapping-style element with a much longer life than the previous equipment, plus a #347 stainless steel locking ring. The easy, tool-free assembly characteristics of this coupling eliminated any need to move the flanges for element replacement. The reduction in failures, and time previously spent on unscheduled maintenance resulted in a 95% increase in efficiency for those applications.
Now, replacing the element in these horizontal, centrifugal pumps common to all canning plants, takes approximately five minutes, according to Vince Baschoff, Lovejoy representative. In addition, he says, "The option of a stainless steel coupling that helps these plants comply with USDA regulations, that requires a fraction of the previous time spent on maintenance, makes this one part indispensable to food processing operations."
The stainless steel hub and Jaw-in-Shear 6-pin coupling is just one of many engineered solutions for industrial maintenance and performance provided by Lovejoy, Inc., a company specializing in flexible coupling design and development.
Lovejoy Inc. 2655 Wisconsin Avenue Downers Grove, IL 60515