Last year, Euro Pumps was contacted by E.C. Throsby in Whittingham (near Singleton), NSW, to undertake some consultancy on improving their cleaning cycle.
Last year, Euro Pumps was contacted by E.C. Throsby in Whittingham (near Singleton), NSW, to undertake some consultancy on improving their cleaning cycle. They wanted the following:
- Assess E.C. Throsby’s current cleaning practices.
- Advice on any cleaning improvements and equipment.
- Advice on shortening cleaning time to allow for increased production.
- Complete a written report.
I attended the plant and viewed the entire cleaning process from start to finish. When undertaking assessments, everything was checked: water, chemical, staffing and anything that uses water, as there may be additional savings that can be made.
After my visit, I submitted my report suggesting changes to the cleaning process, cleaning equipment, staffing levels and training.
The major recommendations were staff training and updating the cleaning equipment as it was outdated and not up to the task. I recommended a trial of the Euro Pumps FLX trolley to improve cleaning speed. The FLX trolley is a product we have developed from lessons learnt from our own cleaning cycle. It provides better pressure and flow while eliminating the cost of pipework from the system.
Trial of Recommendations
My report recommended a labour saving of up to four people using the (speed/quality) improvements from the FLX trolley. This is a big potential saving to E.C. Throsby, so it was important to manage the staff correctly in order to make this work. The GM of Throsby requested a trial for a 2- to 4-week period as he had to see it work.
The trial was organised and a trolley was sent to Singleton. In the end, the trial went for 2.5 months as the original timeframe would not have worked as the cleaners spent the first couple of weeks getting used to the new wash hose. This prompted us to do a second training visit to demonstrate the correct cleaning techniques.
During the secondary visit to follow up with the cleaners, I was accompanied by an experienced Euro Pumps Cleaning Manager, Wellington Masamha, to assist with demonstrating hosing techniques and further training. The Cleaning Manager has 10 years’ experience with the Euro Pumps scrubber, which is our trickiest tool to implement correctly and his experience makes cleaning look fast and easy. This Euro Pumps scrubber gun will save time, so it’s important to get it right.
We all agreed that Wellington visiting the site was beneficial as it showed first hand a better result at higher speed is achievable and he provided good feedback.
Having Wellington on site also allowed us to map out ‘how Euro Pumps would run it’. This does not mean we would be running anything but it gives us ideas and creates a positive result. It’s easier to stay the same but if you do you will never make a saving. Labour is labour.
During the trial, E.C. Throsby worked closely and honestly with their crew, which we found helpful and important. The cleaning staff had read my reports so they were aware from day one what the end goal was, and they adjusted well. My reports are very detailed with savings; I wasn’t aware they were going to read it.
Lesson learnt — tiptoeing around is probably worse and it’s best for staff to be informed of the end results.
When the trial was coming to an end and the labour saving was evident E.C. Throsby made an order for four trolleys and requested to keep our trial trolley until theirs arrived, which we agreed to. A few weeks later, four trolleys where delivered and commissioned, and E.C. Throsby have since asked to retain one of the trial units as an additional unit. Problems, solutions and lessons learnt
Less movement saves time
One of the first lessons learnt was working out what trolley goes where and when/if it gets moved during cleaning. This minimised lost time and additional work as, like other current trolleys on the market, they are not the lightest machines.
Solution: Plan your cleaning flow, anywhere you can save time by not moving an item is a saving.
E.C. Throsby has three lines on site — hot, cold and warm — therefore we had to mix water to get our desired 65 degrees. Mixing water is problematic and costly with mixing valves being expensive. The first mixer failed, but luckily, we only ran one pump on this as only one was installed. The other valves were manually controlled, which worked throughout the trial. The only problem is it depended on a human, which could fault one day. The one that ran of this failed mixer ran hot (70 degrees) and cavitated. Although this sounds bad, I learnt a few things.
Pressure gauges are destroyed instantly by cavitation and the top blew off. Since then, we learnt about the snubbers that can be installed to take the initial shock. The hose was not in good condition as the cavitation caused the hose to rub on the hose it was touching. The pumps need positive water. E.C. Throsby’s GM sorted a new automatic mixing valve from
Italy, which can be re-kitted and are available in sizes up to 2 inches. The other bonus is that you can mix one area rather than the whole plant. They were a success and we took note of this brand. Now we can track the life of these.
Solution: Trained the Cleaning Manager to not assume mixers are working. Use a thermometer to learn temperatures. I can get very close estimating by feeling the pipe or pump head, feel it as you walk past.
Pump running in bypass
Cleaner error, a pump was left running in bypass with the pressure gun attached to the hose making a closed loop, causing the water to get too hot. It destroyed all the valve cages and the plastic went through everything, including gun, turbo heads etc. It was all sorted by EP Engineering. Solution: Reinforced training on using the FLX Trolley.
We banned 50 m lengths of hose and cut them in half. I had a heart attack watching them being rolled up. I am really strict on treating hoses properly.
Solution: Connected 25 m to 25 m with quick connect fittings. This was to reach areas in the boning room. Note: Do not use grease on quick connect fittings the EPDM O-rings will swell, and make sure to keep them clean. Use CRC on rotation.
Electrical Connection Safety
The cleaners burnt a couple of 3-phase plugs. Originally, Euro Pumps cleaners did this as well, due to unfamiliarity with the plug type.
Solution: Train the cleaners to plug it in and screw it in tight, 32 AMP plugs cannot be loose or they will blow. We also found 20 AMP plugs work too, if not using full motor potential and the water pressure is good.
The pump with the blown-out gauge from above was the only machine with milky oil and although the water was not spraying onto the machine, somehow this affected it. All other machines’ oil was perfect.
Maintenance and Spares
Running the FLX Trolleys at 60 degrees we would expect to get a year of operation from the actual pump. In our experience, the cleaners can be taught to be fairly self-sufficient in looking after their own machines at night and only involve engineering staff where required.
Spares: It’s important that every site has all the spares they need (O-rings, turbo head, unloader and a few fittings), plus all tools to fit these and training for correcting any small issues.
The final numbers:
- After three months there is a labour saving of 25%, and the savings from these changes made will mean that machines are paid off in under 12 months.
- Cleaning tasks can be completed within the cleaning window, saving overtime and preventing start-up delays.
- Swab data has improved.
- Time has also been saved.
We will further this case study in a few months after the cleaners have had more time and practice.
Euro Pumps Pty Ltd