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Smart CM increases productivity
Published:  11 July, 2019

Muntons, one of the UK’s largest producers of malted barley protect vital parts of their production process against unscheduled downtime by using the Smart Condition Monitoring (SCM) system from Mitsubishi Electric. PWE reports.

As in many food industries, the principles of the barley malting process are quite traditional, but Muntons relies heavily on automation, electro-mechanical equipment and sensors to provide fine control over air flow, heat and moisture. Fans and motors are critical to the operation: the Muntons processes many tonnes of product at a time, with key operations relying on a steady supply of blown air. The chosen SCM installation provides condition monitoring for two large 315kW fan sets and a single 90kW fan set. Sensors monitor the electric motor, power transmission coupling and main fan shaft bearing on each fan set.

Plant Engineer Michael Plawecki commented: “We now have a clear picture of the health of the fan sets and advance warning of any required maintenance. Remote monitoring and fast diagnosis of any issues has also made us very responsive should the limits on operating parameters that we have set be approached. As promised the system was easy to install and relatively simple to commission.”

The impetus for the SCM installation came from issues previously experienced with difficult-to-reach bearings inside a large fan housing. A bearing failure inside a fan assembly caught the Muntons engineering team unawares, and proved significant in terms of downtime. “We only realised we had problems when it was too late, and we had to make an unscheduled stop on one of the lines to make repairs,” says Plawecki.

Determined to learn from that lesson, Muntons looked for a monitoring solution with predictive maintenance technology that could be linked into the company’s existing SCADA system. Its requirement was for a system that would provide the maximum forewarning of any problems yet which would be quick and easy to install. “We found what looked like an ideal solution in the form of the SCM from Mitsubishi Electric, an automation brand we trusted,” says Plawecki.

The SCM solution provided by Mitsubishi Electric comprises smart sensors that can be attached to bearing housings, gearboxes, pumps and motors to detect when equipment starts to operate outside its normal envelope due to wear. It provides a sophisticated early warning system for critical pieces of rotating plant equipment. Vibration frequencies and temperature readouts are monitored continuously and fed back to an L Series Mitsubishi Electric PLC via an industrial Ethernet network cable.

The PLC offers simple integration to other network system hardware and software platforms, in this case integrating seamlessly with the SCADA system at Muntons Malt.

With the SCM installed on the three fan sets, the Muntons engineering team is now looking at the potential for smart conditioning monitoring elsewhere in the plant.