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Why Automatic Lubrication for the food & beverage market?

Uptime up; downtime down

Efficient automatic lubrication in the food & beverage industry is vital to reduce product spoilage, improve productivity and avoid unplanned downtime.

When it comes to lubrication, food & beverage manufacturers have two major requirements. Firstly, they want their equipment to be efficiently lubricated to keep it up and running. In practice, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Equipment used in the food & beverage industry faces tough environmental conditions. In many processes the presence of moisture is continual. Temperatures can range enormously, from cold storage rooms at -35C to baking ovens at 265C.

Product spills can lead to equipment corrosion. Sanitary washdowns to clean equipment of contamination can lead to lubricant leakage or, even worse, remove lubricants from key bearings. Bearing failure and the resulting downtime leads to lost production and increased operating costs.

At the same time, the industry is becoming increasingly automated, involving the use of more high-speed, high-tech machinery, all of which has to be efficiently lubricated for top performance.

Secondly, food & beverage manufacturers do not want lubricants to go where they shouldn’t go: onto or into their products. Product spoilage, even when quickly identified, can lead to large quantities being discarded, productivity losses, and significant costs to clean up the equipment and get it running again. If not identified, a company’s quality image could be seriously impaired when it fails to comply with health, safety and environmental regulations.

To meet all these challenges, proper lubrication of all the equipment and processes in the food & beverage industry is essential.

“Graco has been partnering the food & beverage industry for decades, and offers automatic lubrication equipment for filling machines, food processing equipment, packaging machines, bottling and canning lines, ovens, washers, dryers and more,” says Charles Hartl, Global Product Marketing Manager, Lubrication Equipment Division, Graco. “Our equipment is renowned for providing a finely controlled delivery of lubricant without any risk of contamination through atmospheric misting. What’s more, it’s resistant to caustic washdowns that are used to clean machines and bottles.”

The benefits include increased productivity and profitability, reduced unplanned downtime, longer intervals between maintenance, reduced environmental impact, and lower energy consumption.

Case study on a can-forming line

Rexam, based in Chicago, is a leading global manufacturer of beverage cans. Its customers are household names such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Heineken, Pepsi and Carlsberg.

On one of its can-forming lines, a particular lubrication system was causing problems. The pump was difficult to operate and control, it was not feeding the correct amount of lubricant into the divider valve system, and feedback from the pump was faulty.

Graco replaced the pump with its G3 electric oil pump along with divider valves and a proximity switch. It solved all the problems associated with the competitive device, and Rexam decided to order five more G3 pumps for elsewhere in the facility.

 

Graco’s G3 lubrication system uses oil for clean lubrication of Rexam’s can-forming machine.

G3 Systems are IP69K rated for high pressure, high temperature wash down: perfect for sanitary and food preparation facilities.

A closer look at the G3

The G3 electric oil and grease pump is designed to work with both series progressive and injector-based systems. This two-in-one design makes it suitable for the variety of processes typically found within a food & beverage processing plant. It also makes it a highly cost-effective solution as only one type of pump needs to be purchased.

This versatile and robust pump is particularly suitable for environments with changing temperatures, such as the food & beverage industry, where it delivers high performance. Two features are worth highlighting:

  • Advanced flow dynamics – Specially contoured base funnels grease directly to the pump inlet to significantly reduce stagnant flow areas where soaps and grease fillers can accumulate.
  • Load minimizing drive – Each G3 piston pump element is offset from the main motor shaft, resulting in less stress on the motor and internal components. This increases reliability and reduces maintenance time and costs.

“The G3 provides the comfort and security that food & beverage manufacturers require,” adds Hartl. “They have full assurance of knowing at any time of the day or night that their lubrication system is protecting their valuable assets.

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Graco since 1926

Founded in 1926, Graco is a world leader in fluid handling systems and components. Graco products move, measure, control, dispense and apply a wide range of fluids and viscous materials used in vehicle lubrication, commercial and industrial settings.