Capital costs and operating costs are at the core of discussions when talking with manufacturers about building or expanding an oilseed processing facility. An initial investment in high-quality machinery and time spent on proper planning will likely reduce operating costs down the road, while poor planning may cost a facility more in the long run.

Maintenance is a normal part of operations that will impact profitability over the lifetime of the facility. The grains and fibers in oilseeds will gradually wear down even the highest quality steel. Machines require regular rebuilds, and parts need to be replaced, repaired, or at least inspected for wear and tear every three to six months.

Anticipating maintenance is important because when it comes to profitability, nothing is more expensive than downtime.

To minimize costly downtime, smart manufacturers invest in high-quality machinery to reduce the frequency of repairs, hire and train operators to identify and prevent issues, and schedule strategic maintenance on single machines so production never has to come to a complete halt.

Less obvious, as we have observed at some client facilities, is the foresight to consider two other important factors related to maintenance: plant layout and proper tooling. First, a high-functioning facility should be arranged with a layout conducive to maintenance. Second, the facility should have adequate tooling on-site to make repairs as quickly and easily as possible.

Plant Layout Conducive to Maintenance

During a facility’s initial layout, plant managers and engineers should consider key access points on a machine prone to wear. The layout needs to account for the space required to pull out different components for inspection and repair.

Let’s look at one example we’ve run into recently when a repair was needed on a twenty-foot shaft inside the barrel of a screw press. If the facility does not have the space to pull out the entire length of the shaft, alternative methods must be developed for its removal. These added steps might involve moving the press for maintenance or as drastic as removing a section of the plant’s roof to provide access via crane. The additions to the maintenance process can double or even quadruple downtime for that single repair. And not just once. This process change will extend downtime every time the repair is needed over the lifespan of the facility.

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Another layout consideration is proper overhead space to set up rigging at critical lift points. A typically expeller or expander weighs several tons and will require rigging to lift and pull out heavy components. Without space and the proper rigging tools, a simple repair can turn into a multi-day process.

Access to Proper Tooling 

Access to adequate rigging tools is critical to ensure efficient maintenance on a machine. A common misconception is that a facility can rely on a forklift to move heavy parts. Not only will this slow down the repair process, but it poses a significant safety concern that can put your plant on the wrong side of local safety authority. Rigs need to be set up at critical lift points for quick and safe access.

Having the right tools on hand at the facility is crucial for timely repair. A pneumatic impact wrench makes removing bolts take seconds rather than minutes, reducing the time to take apart a section of the machine. Having the proper wrench sizes and socket sizes on-site will also cut downtime during equipment maintenance.

Working with an experienced partner like Anderson to help source tools for maintenance and provide guidance on machine specs ensures plant personnel won’t be scrambling to piece together a toolkit when a machine goes down.

The Payoff of Foresight

Proper facility layout and tooling on site can mean the difference between a repair that takes a few hours or one that takes a few days. The fact is that when a plant is down for maintenance, money is lost. Foresight about maintenance during the planning process, though it may take a little more time and have a higher upfront cost, can save you tens of thousands of dollars every time a press needs to be repaired.

The Value of Anderson International

We know time is money for our clients’ operations and will work with facility staff to minimize costly downtime. During installation, we will help your team ensure proper layout and share expertise with your contractor for rigging setup. Additionally, Anderson’s Field Service provides operational training, maintenance training, and plant-wide optimization. When it comes to maintenance, we can show your staff how to tear down a machine properly and identify the critical signs of wear and tear.

Preparing your facility for maintenance with the help of Anderson experts will save your facility from costly downtime for decades to come.

To talk with our experts about your plant’s layout or our Field Service training, contact us here.