For many waste recycling operations horizontal balers and feed conveyors are one of the most expensive items on the works floor and critical to operational efficiency. Richard Turner service coordinator at baler expert Middleton Engineering offers his top tips on how to make sure they last.
Most machines are built to last and to withstand very tough treatment; it’s not unreasonable to expect a good 20 years’ operation from a quality machine. But, like any heavy plant, they’ll only operate well if they are properly looked after.
Surprisingly, we find that this is an area where some companies can skimp – which just doesn’t make financial sense. As downtime for many operations can run into thousands of pounds, and a machine can take days to fix if parts are unavailable or have to be shipped in from abroad, it’s a case of spoiling the ship for a ha’peth of tar.
Actions you can take
Of course, you can carry out your own basic maintenance routines provided your staff are trained and competent. As well as lubricating all moving parts at regular intervals – the harder you work the machine the more frequently you will need to do this. You will need to carry out regular visual checks, sort out minor faults and understand how to clear all jams and malfunctions. Regular cleaning is essential too, especially for parts that are susceptible to overheating from dust and debris.
For health and safety, it’s vital to follow correct procedures and avoid short cuts. In essence your staff needs to:
- Always ensure the machine is switched off and locked off
- Make sure hydraulics aren’t pressurised before disconnecting pipes or hoses
- Avoid working on live electrical parts
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment for each task
- Take precautions when searching for oil leaks – never use bare hands
- Ensure that all guards are replaced before restarting the machine
- Use appropriate quality consumables
To maximise your investment and achieve the longest lasting performance, a professional service regime will guarantee to spot all potential issues before they become problems. Planned preventative maintenance can be scheduled at shut downs or convenient times for the business and staff allocated elsewhere.
Check what’s covered
Not all services are equal so do check what you are being offered first. Engineers need to be properly qualified and experienced with your machine and you need to ensure only genuine quality parts and lubricants are used. As parts availability is an issue, especially if your machine is foreign, do verify that your engineer has access to key parts and that there is sufficient stockholding to cover most requirements. Finding out how quickly they can source (or even manufacture obsolete parts; a service we provide) could mean the difference between keeping your equipment running or a total shut down.
The full Middleton service, for example, features a complete examination of all mechanical and electrical parts. All wearing parts are stripped, examined and replaced as necessary. This could include shimming or replacing ram head wear pads, needle tip rollers, dismantling the tying head and reassembling with new parts as necessary, changing of oil filters and air filters and lubricating.
These are complimented by service inspections, which cover visual checks and lubrication, and detailed reports are produced for both types of service. Customers who follow a proper service regime can expect years of trouble free performance with far fewer surprises and disruptions than the industry norm.
At the end of the day, you wouldn’t neglect to get your car serviced regularly, by a professional, so why would you treat your baler any worse?
The benefits of regular servicing:
- Longer life and lower cost of ownership
- Higher resale value
- Reduced chance of unforeseen and expensive repairs
- Less downtime – and no knock on impact on the operation
- Better day-to-day use and optimal operation
- Minimal energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions
- Consistent compaction and better throughput
- Safer environment for operatives with documented records for H&S compliance