Plant & Works Engineering

Chewing gum manufacturer eliminates unplanned downtime

Published:  30 November, 1999

Chewing gum maker Gumlink has eliminated bearing defects and unplanned stoppages by installing bearing lubricators and vibration monitoring equipment on its production machinery.

Based in Denmark, Gumlink's 36,000m² manufacturing plant handles up to 40,000 tonnes of chewing gum each year, so it is critical that production machines are kept running, free of any unplanned stoppages.

The plant has 15 machines that are responsible for placing sugar onto the chewing gum. There are three, 55kW fans on each machine. One fan blows the sugar in by air. The second extracts the air and the third regulates the pressure.
Before installing bearing lubricators and vibration monitoring equipment, the bearings on the fans were lasting for an average of 12 months. This was down to incorrect choice of grease, poor re-lubrication and contamination issues with the sugar. Due to the sugar in the air, there were also balancing and misalignment problems with the fans.

Gumlink called in FAG Industrial Services (FIS), part of the Schaeffler Group, to replace and carry out life calculations on all the bearings. As a result of this, FIS recommended that 'ARCANOL Multitop" grease should be used on all bearings; two 'Motion Guard' Champion lubricators were also mounted on the motor (on each machine) and two on each of the fans; and a 'FAG Detector II" vibration monitoring system was also used to measure the vibration level on the bearings and to detect imbalances in the fans.

The vibration level of the fans is now measured every four weeks so that any increase in vibration levels is detected promptly by Gumlink's maintenance staff.
Before installing the vibration monitoring equipment from FIS, Gumlink had been monitoring the fans manually, by listening to noise levels around the fans. When noise levels were considered too high, production was stopped while the blades on the fans were cleaned with dry ice. As Carsten Eilersen, key account manager distribution at Schaeffler Denmark comments: "Checking the fans manually meant that Gumlink were scrapping two to three batches of chewing gum each year, which cost the company around €14,000. Since installing the Detector II equipment in 2003, Gumlink has had no more unplanned shutdowns and maintenance can be carried out at weekends so as not to disrupt production. Payback has been approximately two years.”

Gumlink is currently considering upgrading its Detector II equipment to the Detector III device, which offers a separate balancing kit to rebalance moving plant and machinery, as well as monitoring vibration levels.

For more information please visit:


Parker is helping the Elkem Aluminium plant in MosjØen, Norway to streamline processes and significantly increase efficiency through the use if its intelligent pneumatic crust breaking cylinders. As well as being able to withstand the extreme conditions within an aluminium smelter, the cylinders feature closed loop control, to improve the performance of the feeders and enable the plant"s cell operators and maintenance staff to respond to problems quickly, reducing the number of anode effects (and thereby greenhouse emissions) and also increasing productivity.

The successful smelting of aluminium relies both on a controlled supply of aluminium oxide, also known as alumina, in order for production to be optimised and for anode effects to be prevented, to minimise greenhouse emissions and potline disturbances.

Prior to implementing the Parker technology, the Elkem plant was operating conventional crust breaking cylinders with fixed dwell times, regularly attempting to break the crust which forms on top of the alumina and cryolite mixture in a smelting pot, as a part of the alumina feed operation. The dwell time selected was a compromise between having sufficient time to achieve enough plunger force, and a short enough time to avoid electrolyte deposits sticking to the plunger. There was no feedback on whether the crust was successfully broken, often resulting in alumina being poured on top of the crust and not entering the mixture, resulting in anode effects.

In response to these problems, manual checks were frequently required, with process staff having to lift heavy covers from the pots in order to monitor their condition. With 1100 feeders at the plant, needing one or two inspections every shift, this required a significant amount of man hours. These spot inspections were also relatively inefficient as there can be an anode effect just fifteen minutes after a feeder stops working.