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Reliable by Design


4 Tips to Address Emergency Downtime

Mepaco’s Service Team is often called out on critical downtime situations.  The goal for any food processor is to prevent these situations and if they are unavoidable, mitigate the time and cost associated with the breakdown.  To start with, here are the top four calls that Mepaco Services receive for emergency support:

Broken Shafts Agitators are failing when they start to develop cracks or start to rub the tub side wall of the processing equipment.  Agitators and shafts also fail when a tool or component drops into the equipment and damages the shaft or paddles. The damage is not always immediately apparent; a bent shaft may take months to start failing.

Gear Motors / Gear Boxes Oil leakage, hot temperatures and noise are all signs that gear motors or gear boxes may be failing. The motors and gear boxes commonly fail due to poor lubrication practices. They also may fail because of improper repair of the agitator and the gear motor and gear box may wear out prematurely.

Safety Devices Equipment is designed with safety modes and if the safety devices are damaged, whether accidental or environmental, the equipment will not operate.

Controls Internal programming errors, or physical damage to the HMI are also causes for emergency downtime.

In most instances, there are preventative measurements for processors to prevent downtime situations, but what can you do to mitigate the critical breakdown situation and get back online as soon as possible?

  1. Self-Repair of Shaft Agitator with After-Event Service Call Mepaco Services does provide emergency repairs, yet there is travel time and scheduling to plan. Some processors have maintenance capabilities to make their own repairs.  If the repair is viable by the internal maintenance team, be sure to schedule an after-event care assessment. Mepaco Services technicians will verify the repairs, fix if necessary and provide an assessment of the remaining life of the agitator. Agitators are a long lead parts component, so it is crucial to order the component if there is any indication that the existing shaft will not last.
  2. Emergency Replacement Program for Gear Motors / Gear Boxes Nord is a common component provider in Mepaco equipment. If your equipment has Nord gear motors or Nord gear boxes, the company does offer a weekend emergency expedite program.  There is a premium price for the service, but some processors choose the pay it to avoid the cost of lost production. In some cases, the gear motors / gear boxes may be able to be reconditioned, and after repair they can be used as a spare.
  3. Safety Device Failure While it is not recommended, some processors have engineered workarounds on broken safety devices to continue to run the equipment.  It is very important however, to schedule an after-event service call to return the system to the original safety features, programming, and controls. On new equipment, order spare safety switches, relays, and other controls devices so if there is any failure during transport, install or commissioning, that a new part is on hand to start production on schedule.
  4. Controls If there was unintentional change to the equipment software, in most cases it is possible for a remote programming repair or reloading of the original program.  If the HMI was damaged by condensation from high-pressure, caustic washdown or accidental, a replacement may be required.

The Mepaco Parts and Service team strongly urges processing customers to consider a just-in-case planning mentally for parts replacement. There are long lead times on agitators, cylinders, motors, gear motors, safety devices and HMI panels. 

After-event service calls or equipment-systems assessments are recommended to ensure production up-time and to alleviate safety risk.  If you have questions, or to schedule  service visit, call 920-356-9900 and ask for Mepaco Parts and Service.


When to Leverage Dual Zones in Thermal Jackets for Food Processing

There are various methods to heat and cool food product in cooking equipment. The application will dictate the best combination of methods and configurations ranging from stay-bolt or dimple jacket designs, to injected steam and thermal screw heating options.  On equipment solutions that use a heating jacket, a dual zone design may add versatility to operations.

Heating zones can be engineered for two separate zones that heat or cool independently.

The first chamber forms the bottom of the cooker tub to the centerline of the agitator. This zone has independent controls and can be used for small batches. The upper chamber can be activated to heat when the batch size and application demand.

The best-use application for dual zones are test market runs, small recipe variations, and staged cooking. Zoned heating jackets provide savings in time, energy, and cost for partial batch production. Depending on the application, significant efficiencies can also be realized by starting the batch in the first zone and adding the second zone to finish the batch.

The advantage of dual zones heating jackets is versatility of batch cooking processes and significant savings in energy costs.

The tenured sales and engineering teams in the Mepaco group are driven and dedicated to solving cooking and processing problems for industrial food processing customers. 


[Infographic] Why Processors like Mepaco's Dumping Equipment

Mepaco’s Food Processing customers opt for custom and modifiable dumping equipment features that provide the highest level of personnel and food safety, including:

PERSONNEL SAFETY

  • Personnel guarding designed for the entire dump-zone footprint and safety relays that control the e-stop position; and optional pocket door designs that allow for safe fork truck access for loading and unloading.
  • Guards can be designed for different types of visibility and access, from gates to pocket and overhead access doors, depending on the requirements of the application.
FOOD SAFETY
  • A Pallet Retention System (PRS) that allows the combo to complete the dump cycle while separating from the pallet, limiting the potential for contamination in the food stream.
  • A liner hold-down that prevents the liner from separating from the combo and falling into the hopper.
  • An optional electropolished finish on the chute solves for sanitation efficiency and effectiveness.

Column Dumpers - Featuring 60 degree dump angle

Processors should be able to focus on critical operations and not have to worry about auxiliary equipment. That's what Mepaco's CD1000 Column Dumper delivers; a Column Dumper that is heavily built, engineered for easy maintenance, built to strict sanitary design standards, and like our processing equipment solutions, modifiable to meet specific production requirements.

The animation features a new option in Mepaco's Column Dumper, a 60 degree dump angle for applications where every particulate must be added to the batch.

For more information, download our Column Dumper Flyer.


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.

Ask the Experts - At Process Expo - DP3000 Dumper


Mepaco is exhibiting this week at Process Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago - booth S2024!

 

To promote our event, we are hosting a daily series on Ask the Experts and highlighting the equipment in our booth.

 

Our first video is in the DP3000 Dumper with a tour given by Cory Buchholz.

 

 

 

 



Proper Operational Procedures Improves Dumper Performance

Depending on the complexity of the equipment and controls, there are a few options for production personnel to learn how to operate the equipment. The manual explains the operation of the equipment and its components. The customer can visit Apache for training and testing or contract with Mepaco Field Services for on-site training.

In one example, the production staff did not understand how to operate the HD3000 Dumper, causing the carriage to bind-up where cylinders weren't lifting in tandem. The issue was caused by incorrect operation.

Due to the operational configuration of the hydraulic cylinders, the HD300 dumper must be fully cycled (complete cylinder extension and retraction) each time it is used. The production staff was not fully retracting the dumper leaving the carriage 12 - 18" off the ground. This allowed the cylinders to start up unevenly and compounded if the staff did not fully extend the dumper. This caused the dumper carriage to misalign and bind against the dumper frame.

Once the carriage binds against the frame the only way to safely correct the situation is to lock out the hydraulic power unit, disconnect the hydraulic line from the overextended cylinder and allow the carriage to drift down until it is re-timed. Once the cylinders are re-timed the power unit can be operated to bring the carriage to the fully down position. Air will need to be bled from the cylinder that had the hydraulic lines removed.

Please call Joe Hertel, Field Services Manager, at 920-219-2286 if you have any questions about the operation of Mepaco equipment or if a training visit is necessary for new personnel.


Now Playing at the Mepaco Booth B4853 at IPPE

 

Now playing at the Mepaco's IPPE Booth B4853 are several system videos and 3D animations that showcase Pre-Blend Systems, Grind Blend Systems and Accumulation Systems. Mepaco's entire sales team will be at the IPPE show to answer questions on how to increase production, yields and product integrity.

Mepaco provides a custom system approach to customer plant and processing requirements that includes immediate and long-term performance goals, as well as sanitation and safety requirements. Our equipment includes grinders, mixers, blenders, vacuum pumping units, hoppers, loaders, screw and belt conveyors and dumpers.

We strive to be a strategic partner with a team of long-standing, experienced engineers and project managers who work with you on your specific application. Our equipment designs are modified to specific requirements to meet customer product, safety and sanitation goals. We are a complete SOLID WORKS 3D capable engineering design team.

Also as a strategic partner, Mepaco has in-house controls capabilities with the latest in software and device technology to bring the best results in process and material handling systems. Customers can expect UL listed industrial control panel design and assembly, as well as UL listed stainless NEMA 4 enclosures, allowing Mepaco to provide controls programming and integration with your system.

The Mepaco team understands how valuable production uptime is to your company's bottom line. We are evolving our service team  to provide quick response commissioning, ramp-up, maintenance, repair, and emergency break-down support.

IPPE International Production and Processing Expo

Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta Georgia

Jan. 31 Tuesday 10am -5pm
Feb. 1 Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Feb. 2 Thursday 9am - 3pm

 

 

 

 


Polymer Bearings: Mepaco’s Customers Showing Promising Results

With the sophisticated demands in food processing and production, safety and quality, every component within food equipment is critical. Any machinery with moving parts has friction and ‘wear’ issues, and to accommodate most equipment uses a standard bearing. But in applications where the standard bearings compromise food contact areas, Mepaco offers the polymer bearing.

Standard issue bearings are typically ball bearings, mounted in a painted cast iron housing. While the painted coatings are a sealant and deliver anti-corrosive benefits, rust and paint chips can still exist and find its way into the product path. Secondly, maintenance, disassembly, and replacement of bearings is very time consuming in a busy production setting. And lastly, if used above an open product path, grease may cause product contamination. For these reasons, steel ball bearings are best used in equipment and areas where they will not come in contact with food.

In food processing environments, producers should consider polymer bearings to mitigate food safety risks.

The polymer bearing has a moderate up front investment – more than steel bearings – but the Total Cost of Ownership is lower, because of fewer maintenance, safety and sanitation issues.

Mepaco’s polymer bearing is a solid, self-lubricating polymer that is absent of ball bearings. This ensures fewer parts, lowering the chance for breakage or malfunction. In place of the ball bearings, the polymer bearing includes a self lubricating insert, which eliminates the need for grease. That insert can also be replaced without needing to replace the entire housing, reducing the Total Cost of Ownership.

In recent Mepaco systems, the polymer bearing is showing much promise in new applications within traditional food processing environments. While not steel or cast iron in build, the polymer is ‘holding up’, proving to display the durability and efficiency in design.

Polymer technology is changing the face of many industries, and the food industry is no different. The advanced polymer bearings available in Mepaco products represent the promise of innovative components. And with a lower Total Cost of Ownership along with improved quality and efficiency, the smooth polymer bearing should be a reliable transition for all producers.

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Ergonomic Stainless Lifts are Easy to Use

Mepaco offers two models of lifts that meet most manual pallet lift or product lift operations. In the video, Mepaco's Greg Gruber demonstrates the EZL2500 lift in our manufacturing facility.

The EZ4000 Product / Pallet Lift handles up to 4000 lb. loads and raises to any level up to 36 “ for ergonomic comfort. This model includes a self-contained power unit with up-down hand controls and optional turn table.

The EZL2500 Product / Pallet Lift has a load capacity of 2500 lbs. This height adjustable (up to 37”) unit offers a low-profile deck for floor level loading. A hydraulic power unit is included with safety up-down foot pedal control.

These lifts are fabricated from stainless steel with a pickle passivated finished. Both the EZ4000 and EZL2500 are stock units and available for immediate delivery. Portable, rotary top units and other custom built lifts are also available.

Both stainless lifts are kept in-stock for quick delivery.

Register here for immediate pricing.


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