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FoodTech Report

Volume 9 Issue 2

Lubrication Audits Can Streamline Operations And Cut Costs

By Bill Bayliss, aftermarket manager for JBT FoodTech
and Chad Goecke, Parts Manager, JBT FoodTech

Food processors are continually seeking ways to optimize their operating costs. One area that is frequently overlooked is lubricants. Any given single-processing facility may use dozens of different lubricants for its various pieces of food processing equipment including – food-grade, non-food-grade, petroleum-based or synthetic. A comprehensive lubricant audit can reveal opportunities to streamline operations while reducing costs.

Chad Goecke, Parts Manager, and Bill Bayliss, Aftermarket Manager for JBT FoodTech, discuss ways that can help processors optimize lubricant use across the entire facility—from industrial ovens and freezers, to fillers and sterilizers.

Q: What's the biggest impact a lubricant audit can make on an operation?
Goecke: An audit can identify opportunities to reduce lubricant use by up to 75 percent. Most opportunities for reduction are the result of a common situation — as new people come into a maintenance role, they may choose to use different lubricants to maintain equipment than what was previously used. Over time, a company can end up accumulating up to 40 different lubricants in inventory, though one lubricant may be appropriate for use in several different pieces of equipment. By keeping fewer lubricants in inventory, companies can purchase lubricants in larger sizes and bulk quantities for cost efficiency. In addition, savings can be gained through reducing potential environmental hazards associated with lubricant storage and disposal costs of lubricants that are no longer used.

Q: What does an audit entail?
Bayliss: In a lubricant audit, a JBT FoodTech specialist first reviews all the lubricants stored within a particular facility. We then analyze how the lubricants are being used, and make recommendations on areas such as:

●  Streamlining the number of lubricants used to reduce inventory and costs
●  Changing to lubricants that are less expensive and/or provide
    improved performance for better profitability
●  Identifying applications in which less lubricant may be used

JBT FoodTech specialists have in-depth knowledge of food applications, industry regulations and the unique lubricant needs of food processing equipment. In many cases, these specialists also may have insight into the company’s operations since they often provide regular support in those processing facilities and have worked with the operators first-hand.

Q: Are synthetic lubricants better than petroleum-based lubricants? How can processors justify the higher cost of synthetics?
Bayliss: Synthetic lubricants are not necessary for all applications—primarily for systems that have high loads, high temperatures and/or a high risk of failure. In these mission critical applications, a processor may actually uncover cost savings through switching to synthetic lubricants.
Synthetic lubricants are highly refined and manufactured to be a higher viscosity grade than petroleum-based lubricants. Since higher quality lubricants last longer and don’t need to be refreshed as often, their usage can result in long-term operating cost savings. In some instances, a machine that requires a refill of petroleum-based lubricant every six months may be able to go two to three years between refills after switching to a synthetic lubricant. However, to ensure the longest life from synthetics, it’s important to conduct condition-monitoring, which involves regularly checking lubricant for water and heavy metal contaminants.

Constant condition-monitoring of lubricants can become cumbersome. Fortunately, companies that utilize JBT FoodTech’s lubricant program and conduct condition-monitoring are eligible to receive pre-addressed sample bottles that make it easier to send lubricant samples directly to a lab for analysis.

Q: To ensure food safety, is it recommended to use food-grade lubricants across an entire facility?
Goecke: We have all seen the damage that a product recall can do to a company. To prevent the risk of lubricant contamination, many companies choose to use H-1 food-grade lubricants for all equipment in the processing and packaging areas that can have incidental contact with food. This decision can significantly minimize the chance of an employee mistakenly using a non-food-grade lubricant in critical areas.
However, a processor can reduce costs by using non-food-grade lubricants in areas in which contamination is not a risk. Any equipment below the critical “tin line” — the area below the bottom of any food container, such as a can during filling — are safe to utilize non-food-grade lubricants. For example, a pump on the floor of a facility does not risk spraying lubricant into a food package, so it does not require food-grade lubricant. A JBT FoodTech specialist can help processors to determine where food-grade lubricants are not required.

For a detailed look at how JBT FoodTech's approach to lubricants can help food processors optimize operations, visit the JBT FoodTech website.

Do you have a food processing question that you would like a JBT FoodTech expert to address in the next issue of FoodTech Report? Submit your question.























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