We have all heard of big data, but how about big baking? The Australian bread making industry is as robust as its grain production. Unlike a local bakery, large scale baking operations require much larger ovens and mixmasters that spin for extended periods to make bread dough.

These machines present interesting challenges for CBC to address, according to Juha Chandran. With an engineering background of more than 32 years, it is fair to say that Juha isn’t ‘punching above his wheat’ being the primary contact for several of Australia’s largest bakeries at CBC Regency Park in Adelaide. Juha has worked on providing sales and engineering solutions to major baking customers for more than 22 years of his career.

“Large-scale bread manufacturers come to us often with pretty extensive shopping lists. For them, we are a one-stop-shop for all things power transmission — chains, belts, sprockets, gearboxes, motors, bearing and sealing solutions,” he says. “Many of our clients produce commodity bread products that go on to be supplied to big name food chains across the country, so we operate on the awareness that for our clients, machine upkeep is critical to the quality of their final product.”

According to Juha, his primary goal with these clients is simple: extending the life of the bakery’s machinery in order to assist them with streamlining bread production. “All of the machines in a bakery need bearings and being a bearings business, this is well‑suited to our engineering team at CBC.”

Three years ago, a major bread producer was experiencing an ongoing issue with their mixing hubs breaking down after only about 2-3 months of operation.

“A mixmaster on a mixer hub usually contains around 20-30 kilos of dough mix at any given time, and the operation is often running 24 hours a day. This places a huge strain on the machinery,” says Juha. “In addition to this, mixers are also subject to standard hygienic practices that are conducted regularly by maintenance workers, putting further stress on the components with exposure to water and cleaning agents.”

After every shift, the workers at the client’s bakery were sanitising the mixer hub with a power washer, causing corrosion to the bearing housings on the units. The power washing cycles, although necessary, were causing them to fail and ultimately collapse under the strain of continuous use.

The client brought in a unit to be looked at by the CBC engineering services team. The team pulled the mixer units apart at the CBC warehouse. Upon closer inspection, Juha discovered that the water was seeping into the bearing hub through the sealing component, flooding moisture into the bearing cavity, effectively wrecking the entire system.

He suggested replacing the bearings with NTN Sealed Spherical Roller bearing units. After a successful test on the mixing hubs, Juha progressively altered about 7 other units to work on the NTN bearing unit. Due to the downtime associated with dismantling the units, the changeover had to be staggered.

“Since installing the NTN Sealed Spherical Roller bearing units, we have been monitoring and measuring the improved performance of the machines over the last few years,” says Juha. “We have determined that the switch to NTN bearings has extended the life of the mixing system from a maximum of 3 months to a maximum of 14 months.”

CBC’s baking client was pleased with the improvement to their production process and reduction in maintenance costs, resulting in less downtime and labour.

The CBC engineering team still perform the bearing replacements off-site to ensure correct fit and installation as part of their solutions-based service offering to the client. It just goes to show that there are no half‑baked solutions at CBC.