Reducing Downtime, Streamlining Labor, and Eliminating Waste
Valve Testing, Repair, and Replacement Program for a Multinational Food Processing Corporation
Safety is critical for any combustion system, but the safety implications of combustion operations in food processing are often even further reaching than other industries. Not only do proper measures need to be in place to protect team members working in processing plants, but combustion systems must operate properly to ensure accurate heating during the cooking process of foods to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
Unplanned downtime is also a major issue for food processors as they play a pivotal role in what some may say is the most essential supply chain. This case study covers how we worked with a large customer in this industry to help them eliminate several issues that were occurring as a result of the safety valves in their mixed gas system.
The customer is a large multinational food processing and commodities trading corporation headquartered in the Midwestern United States. The company was founded in the early 1900s, and is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with annual revenues in excess of $60 billion.
The customer had been experiencing excessive downtime as a result of their approach to testing and replacing the safety valves in their mixed gas system. In this particular part of their process, a sticky substance would often build up on the safety valves, which could potentially cause part failure. Six to ten times per year, maintenance team members would need to shut down the systems to remove the valves for testing, and then reinstall replacement valves if the parts failed the testing. The process was costly in several ways: lost revenue as a result of downtime, the labor required to perform the testing, and the cost of replacement valves, which was between $3,000 and $5,000 per part.
When the customer shared these challenges with us, we got to work developing a solution that could help them make the process leaner.
The primary goal of our solution was to provide the customer with a new testing and replacement approach that would reduce unplanned downtime and preserve the safety of their operation. We also aimed to lower their part replacement costs and reduce the physical waste generated by scrapping the failing valves.
First, we designed and installed a testing station at each valve that enabled maintenance team members to cycle and test them in place according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This adjustment allowed a single team member to perform the testing while the line was in place, whereas the old process required two team members to take the valves out of service to test them.
We encouraged the customer to keep several spare valves on hand, so if parts did not meet standards during testing, they could be temporarily replaced with a spare. Instead of discarding the failing parts, the customer began sending them to our facility at BDC for cleaning, repair, and retesting.
As a result of the new valve testing process, the customer reported a dramatic reduction in combustion-related downtime—an 80% decrease when compared to the previous period. They have realized labor efficiencies that have allowed their maintenance team members to accomplish more in the same amount of hours. And finally, BDC has so far been able to successfully return every repaired valve to service. Since the customer had been scrapping an average of twelve valves each year, this represents nearly a $60,000 annual savings.
If you’re experiencing headaches in your combustion system maintenance process, we can help. We do a lot more than supply top-quality parts—we can work with you to help your team ease the pain points in your operation. If you’re looking to increase the efficiency of your combustion system, get in touch with a BDC expert by email at email@example.com or by phone at 314-993-5810.