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Case Story: What Can Happen When an Agitator Problem is Ignored?

Case Story: What can happen when an agitator problem is ignored?

A high-volume pet food processor utilized a Mixer/Cooker in their operations which produced 45-minute batches.  The application called for 28 RPM and mixing cold product at 35 – 45 degrees. During the process of loading different ingredients into the Mixer-Cooker, a Vmag buggy fell into the mixer, causing damage to the agitator.

The processor made repairs to the bent shaft and paddles and was able to get the Mixer-Cooker back online into full production. 

Many processors assume that if the paddles do not rub the side of the tub, that the agitator has had a successful repair. But in many cases (and in this case), there was extensive damage and over time the shaft began to flex, causing the agitator to break. This failure completely stopped production.

There are a few choices to stay ahead of agitator care:

Preventative Maintenance:  Partner with Mepaco Services to inspect agitators to ensure the shaft is straight and look for stress and other damage.

After Event Care: Processors may be able to fix the shift to continue production, but contract with Mepaco Services to inspect the shaft and straighten if necessary.

Most importantly, processors should avoid emergency maintenance, causing down-time and lost production. 

It is not uncommon to have dropped tools into Mixers, so prepare for the event if it does happen.  Consider an audit to assess the life of the agitator and consider ordering a replacement so you can have duplicity for uninterrupted down-time. 

Delivery of agitator replacements are 3 – 6 months out due to the availability of stainless material.  Mixers, Blenders and Grinders are the work horse of the processing system, so be sure that agitator care and component availability are part of the maintenance program.

Mepaco Services offer on-site audits, training, and service contracts as well as emergency repair.


Sanitation and Safety Checklist: Time for a Review?

An equipment safety and sanitation audit can provide direction for implementing improvement procedures and specifying equipment updates that mitigate risk and solve for safety and production goals.  Here’s an excerpt from our audit checklist:

  • Are all parts of the equipment readily accessible for inspection, maintenance, sanitation?
  • Is there any evidence of premature wear on parts?
  • Does the equipment properly self-drain to assure food product, water or sanitizing fluids do not accumulate?
  • Are all hollow areas removed where possible or permanently sealed to eliminate any harborage areas?
  • During operation, does the equipment perform properly as not to contribute to unsanitary conditions?
  • Is the equipment free of niches, pits, cracks, corrosion, recessed, open seams, gaps inside threads, bolt rivets, protruding ledges, rusting and dead ends?
  • Are the enclosures and HMIs designed, constructed, and maintained to ensure food product, water or other liquids do not penetrate or accumulate on the enclosure or interface?
  • Is there adequate space between the floor and the equipment body for sanitation?
  • Are bearings, gear motors and hydraulic system sealed, guarded, and/or mounted away from the product zone? 

    Our 25-point checklist walks through compatibility, compliance, food safety risk and personnel safety.  

    Contact a technical sales manager for a plant visit risk review.

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