Like all food and beverage producers, bakeries require highly scrutinised processes to ensure the cleanliness and quality of their products. When a major bakery operation in Queensland sought a safe way to lubricate their oven chains, the concept of contactless lubrication system offered by BSC in partnership with Alemlube proved to be an appealing option.
As a major supplier of baked products to retailers in Australia, the plant was looking for an automatic oil lubrication system for their pre-oven, oven and after-oven units that was contactless to avoid particle contamination on the bread. Peter Solloway, BSC Queensland State Sales Manager, says the oil spray system offered by Alemlube was the ideal solution for this application.
“The bakery was previously using a manual lubrication system wherein the chains were lubricated only when the machines shut down. They wanted to ensure continuous chain lubrication to improve the longevity of the chains, while also ensuring the safety of the products travelling through the line,” says Peter.
“The client then considered using a brush-based automatic lubrication system, but the idea was abandoned after they realised that tiny filaments from the brush could still land on the bread and pose health risks.”
The solution offered by the BSC and Alemlube professionals was a setup involving three sets of 16-nozzle automatic oil spray systems fitted with special progressive divider valves. The valves allow compressed air to be mixed with the oil as the oil is pumped from a central reservoir and reaches the ejection nozzle, thus creating an easily regulated lubrication system.
Alemlube Key Account Manager Greg Chapman says the solution is the perfect alternative for brush-type lubrication systems where minimal contact with the machine or products is desired.
“Lubrication to prevent component wear is not an exact science. Each site has its own preferences when it comes to the amount and frequency of lubrication required. The beauty of the automated oil spray system is that it can be easily configured for each specific application; so the reservoir capacity, the number of outlet nozzles, the outlet pressure and all of the external controllers can be designed according to the site’s requirement,” he says.
“For example, in this case, we used two nozzles for each chain to make sure the full width of the chains was covered. The electric pump pushes the lubricant from the central 4-litre capacity reservoir and the oil is sprayed onto the chains as they move past. If required, we could also install timers and even incorporate fluid blockage alarms or low-level alarms to inform the service professional when the flow is blocked or if the reservoir is running low. In this particular case, the client preferred to use their existing PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) unit to regulate the flow,” he adds.
High temperature resistance is another key feature of the Alemlube automated lubrication system, Greg points out.
“Automated lubrication systems are used in a myriad of applications, not just in food and beverage industries, but also in mining, construction and transport industries. The components in the system are therefore required to withstand high operating temperatures. We have successfully implemented chain lubrication systems for chains going through industrial ovens, without any issue.”
After 18 months since the solution was provided to the bakery operation, Peter says BSC personnel have been checking on the site regularly to ensure that the system is working smoothly.
“The contactless oil spray system has proved to be an efficient solution for the client, reducing the time and effort required for lubricating the oven chains and extending the chain life. Whereas the components were previously lubricated manually, now the servicepersons only need to top up the oil reservoir once every month or so and the chains run smoothly.”