For a lot of Australians, Arnott’s biscuits are associated with sweet memories. From growing up with a vintage Arnott’s biscuit tin, to introducing the delights of a ‘Tim Tam Slam’, Arnott’s products have lodged themselves in the hearts and homes of Australians throughout the iconic brand’s 155-year history. In fact, an estimated 95% of Australian households stock Arnott’s biscuits.1
Making tasty treats for the nation comes with responsibilities. The maintenance teams at Arnott’s factories work hard to ensure the plants run as efficiently as possible to keep up with the large orders Arnott’s receives.
For Paul Nitschke, who works as Maintenance Services Team Leader at Arnott’s Marleston plant in Adelaide, working with the iconic biscuit manufacturer is a source of pride.
“It’s a great feeling to be working with a company that’s part of Australia’s manufacturing history,” says Paul.
One of the machines that Paul’s team supervises at the Marleston plant is a cooling conveyor that transfers freshly baked biscuits and cookies from the oven to the wrapping machines. Keeping the 30-metre-long wire mesh conveyor rolling smoothly is critical for the biscuits to reach the final packaging stage. Last year, Paul noted that the chain drive running the conveyor line was not running as efficiently as it should.
“The chain drive running the cooling conveyor was failing sporadically. We had experienced seven or eight chain failures in a span of 15 months. Every time the chain broke, it would cost us almost a full day of production,” says Paul.
To identify the cause of the problem, Paul contacted Chris Wheatley, the Agriculture, Food & Beverage Manager for BSC in South Australia. For nearly a decade, BSC has been supplying Arnott’s plants nationally with parts and services requirements to ensure a smooth production process.
Working with Chris and BSC‘s Engineering Specialist, Andrew Fant, Paul was able to confirm that the existing triplex chains running the drive were inadequate for the incoming loads. The alternative, which the BSC team proposed, was to change the drive system to a belt and pulley system using Gates’ Poly Chain® GT® Carbon™ timing belts.
“The existing chain drive wasn’t coping well with the load surges in the machine, which resulted in the frequent breakages. We initially considered replacing the triplex chain with a heavier chain; but further calculation showed that the heavier chain would only cause more problems. Upgrading to a belt and pulley system was the best solution in this case. Not only is the belt drive system more compact, but the Gates Poly Chain® GT® Carbon™ timing belts also have a much higher load carrying capacity than the old chains,” says Chris.
“What’s more, the Gates belts are practically maintenance free, so we have eliminated the need for lubrication. For a food plant, that is a bonus point because lubricating the chains can be quite messy. The belt and pulley system we have designed for Arnott’s weighs only about two-third of the chain drive system previously installed, reducing the load on the shafts,” he adds.
In the end, Paul says replacing the chain drive with a belt drive assembly cost the plant the same amount of money as it would cost to upgrade to heavier chains.
“But if you consider the elimination of lubrication and manpower over the life of the belt, it worked out to be a better solution for us. The main cost saving, however, was in avoiding downtimes, which was the key factor. In that context, the new drive system has already paid for itself,” says Paul.
Moreover, not having to replace sprockets has been a welcomed change for Paul’s team.
“With the chain drive setup, the sprockets were under a lot of pressure and wearing out faster than they should. Not having to spend that time to replace the sprockets has been another positive outcome for us.”
Paul says he was very pleased with the way the BSC experts handled the drive upgrade process.
“I have worked with the BSC engineering team on many occasions before and they have always been very helpful with any problems we have had. In this case, at first we were not sure whether the issue was due to the chain’s alignment or the overall setup of the chain drive. So, I sent Andrew some information about the drive and he designed us a fit-for-purpose solution.”
Chris says BSC is honoured to support the company that has provided Australians with the likes of Iced VoVos, SAO, Shapes and Wagon Wheels.
“BSC has been servicing Arnott’s maintenance teams all across Australia since 2011. Our local teams are always happy to go out of their way and work beyond their normal workhours if an urgent breakdown or reliability issue needs to be addressed. This is how we treat all of our clients, big or small. It just so happens that visits to Arnott’s are extra sweet.”