RS Group helps a leading brewer avoid downtime that could have cost £60,000

2 mins read

RS, a global provider of product and service solutions for industrial customers, including maintenance and safety solutions, has helped a leading brewer avoid downtime that could have cost the firm £60,000, as well as a potential £4,000 bill for asset replacement.

RS Industria, an innovative cloud service and part of the RS Group, was utilised by the UK’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame, to help the company gain valuable insight into a key asset: a bottle filler which lies at the heart of the brewery operation on the bottling line.

With a capacity to fill 27,000 bottles per hour – which contributes to the firms output of 50 million pints every year – the asset is critical but ageing. Shepherd Neame’s engineers needed to develop a greater understanding of its performance so they could implement steps to increase the reliability of the machine to avoid costly downtime.

Michael Unsworth, director of brewing at Shepherd Neame, explained: “Stoppage on production with the scale of output we work to on our bottling line can cost around £1,000 per hour. If unplanned downtime lasts for days, which can be the case when there are long lead times for spare parts, it can be very costly.

“For this reason, we needed to get the right insight on the machine and its components to use the data to develop a robust maintenance strategy. Not only does this save us the aforementioned downtime cost, but measures to prevent failures also saves us the component and labour costs,” he added.

Working closely with Shepherd Neame, RS Industria engineers installed condition monitoring on the asset’s main drive and vibration sensors on its gearboxes, before connecting these to a local hub. RS Industria monitors machines in real-time, alerting engineers to potential small issues before they escalate. This real-time data is fed into a cloud-based analytics system that can spot indicators of potential failure to improve asset reliability through preventative and predictive maintenance.

Within hours of the RS Industrial solution being in place to monitor the bottling machine, issues with two critical components were flagged: the gearbox was showing a high-frequency vibration – indicating a lubrication issue – and an oil leak was discovered, caused by a faulty seal. Had these issues not been identified, the gearbox may have failed and needed to be replaced, at a cost of around £4,000.

High vibration on the motor was also detected, leading to timely investigation of the issue and component replacement scheduled to tie in with planned maintenance programmes. This avoided potential downtime and potential cost arising from secondary damage to the machine.

Richard Jeffers, managing director of RS Industria, said: “The work we have done with Shepherd Neame has yielded immediate benefits with tangible cost savings. This is a real testament to the value of gathering insights into the health of assets to increase reliability and enable predictive maintenance.”

Michael concluded: “We’re really happy with the insight RS Industria has helped us unveil – which has been hassle-free for us – from which we’ve already achieved significant value.”