The food and agriculture industries are vital to everyday life; we rely on these sectors to provide safe, quality products. An animal feed manufacturer came to GP Reeves for assistance with their feed pellet mill lubrication. We developed a grease dispensing solution that applied food grade grease to roller, die, and drum components of the pellet maker. Our process improved the quality of the manufacturer’s machinery, saved material, and simplified the necessary maintenance.

The Problem

The manufacturers had two complete pellet mill lubrication systems: one for each side (front and back) of the pellet maker. The system for the back was automated to periodically confirm proper grease levels and dispense into any gaps. The front system was used for occasional manual greasing to the front.

Multi-level Operation

The pellet maker that needed lubrication is on the third floor. However, there wasn’t room on this level to store the complete lubrication systems, so the material kegs were stored one floor up. This required the manufacturer to maneuver 120 lb. kegs of grease into an elevator and up to the fourth floor of their facility. The process was frequent and time consuming, causing significant downtime for the manufacturer.

Airborne Contamination

The system that supplied the grease material to the dispense gun was kept in an environment that is full of airborne debris and contaminants. While normal for operational circumstances, these foreign particles negatively impacted both the life of the components, and the procedure for changing the material container. Time was wasted first cleaning around this area, and extra precaution was needed to not contaminate the new keg of grease.

Excess Material Waste

Saving cost and material was important to the manufacturer, as the food-grade grease is expensive. The minimization of material waste and the risk of contamination during the feed pellet machine’s maintenance was an important aspect to consider when designing the system.

Eliminating Material Waste

The Challenge

GP Reeves began thinking of the specific aggravations that needed to be avoided with the new grease dispensing equipment. We took the manufacturer’s issues with their previous pellet mill lubrication equipment into consideration. Our team had to factor in the pellet feed machine’s elevation, the facility’s specific conditions, a reduction of labor intensity, and the priority of minimizing material waste.

Reduce Manual Labor

A new solution would have to consider a more practical dispense system layout to ease the manufacturer’s space and distance issues. Ideally, the dispensing solution could be configured so that the pump could be reloaded from the main floor of the plant, alleviating the need for all the back and forth. This meant the new system would need to pump against gravity as it led material to the facility’s third floor.

Prevent Wasted Material

Saving material expenses was a high priority to be considered in the system design. As stated before, food-grade grease is not cheap. They needed to know they were getting as much use out of the grease keg as possible while also cutting back on the container changes needed.

Combat Factory Conditions

GP Reeves recognized the need to seal the dispense system from the plant’s environmental conditions. In order to limit the potential of airborne particles entering the system, GP Reeves needed to provide an extra level of protection to the system.

Overall, each of these challenges had to be intricately accounted for in the design and engineering process. Luckily, GP Reeves has the world’s smartest engineers (not yet verified) to handle even the toughest of dispensing applications.

Dispensing for Factory Conditions

The Solution

To accommodate the feed pellet machine’s needs, the dispensing system would apply lubricant to the roller, die and drum components. This pellet mill lubrication would need to occur frequently and reliably. Our engineers worked to ensure the greasing equipment would align to each component’s specific dispensing needs, including amount, rate, pressure, and volume. GP Reeves created a decoupled grease dispensing system that has components on different levels of the facility. The grease pump and controller are located on the first level, while the AA dispenser is on the third. We were able to do away with the two-system setup in favor of one system. The new system automatically greases the back while also having manual greasing capabilities for the front.

Container Size

The manufacturer’s previous system had the capacity for only a 120 lb. keg of grease. Upgrading to the GDP grease pump for 400-pound drums gave them 3.3x their original volume capacity. This allows the facility to cut back on the frequency of container changes. The pump’s high boost ratio also enabled it to vertically supply grease to the third floor. In addition to upgrading the pump, we also enhanced the dispensing process by adding a customized pneumatic AA grease dispenser. The AA controls the volume and rate of each dispense.

Customized Dispense

As for its operations, the automated system consists of a customized controller that communicates with the pump to feed grease to the dispenser. When the AA gets to a certain point where it signals it is empty, the chamber is refilled and the airless grease is ready to be dispensed, allowing the grease to flow through the tubing to the manufacturers own tooling for dispensing. The volume tolerance of the application was +/- 0.25 cc.

Protected Equipment

To avoid airborne contaminants, all fluid dispense system components are housed in custom enclosures to keep any debris from entering the system. Our automated system ensures that components will have a proper amount of lubrication, assuring the feed pellet mill functions properly.

End Result

Overall, this pellet mill lubrication system has improved production efficiency, enhanced product quality, and elevated workplace safety. Upgrading their pump to a larger container size allowed them to go from 2-3 days between keg changes to 10 days between changes. The manual greasing has been reduced to 10 minutes, when it used to take 45 minutes. Plus, the dust-tight enclosure of the system keeps the system and material clean. Would a dispense system from GP Reeves help your production too? Get in touch with us today!

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