How to minimise baler downtime – common faults and actions you can take to prevent issues and improve performance
A simple guide to prevent issues, improve performance and minimise downtime.
1. Dust and Debris
The No.1 culprit for most common faults is dust and debris. This builds up during the production process and regular cleaning is essential. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Follow a vigorous cleaning routine and you’ll experience far fewer issues.
Electric motors and oil coolers must be cleaned daily to prevent over heating. Likewise, the air filter should bec checked and cleaned
Faults with automatic tying systems are nearly always due to dust and dirt. A good system of cleaning around the wiring guiding routes and on the head itself will eliminate most issues associated with tying off bales.
Light sensors to detect when the hopper is full, will not operate correctly if full with dust. Consequently, the baler will think the hopper is filled when it isn’t.
Remember to clean the main press and the feed conveyor at the required intervals. This will prevent jams and interventions.
2. Proper Lubrication
Insufficient lubrication is the second most likely cause of faults. This will stress moving parts and eventually jam the machine. It’s easily rectified with good practice and your operating manual should detail:
- The number of points to be lubricated
- The correct grade of grease or oil
- The number of operating hours between lubrication
- The amount of grease or oil used
Specific parts to watch for include wire pulleys, wear pads and needle tip rollers. It’s important to stick to the prescribed service intervals. If in doubt, check.
3. Periodic Functional Inspections
Periodic functional checks are also needed to ensure continued smooth running. For a competent operator, these are easily carried out and should be clearly documented with prescribed time intervals in your manual.
Typically these fall at 8 hour, 40 hour and 300 hour operating intervals. Most should be carried out with the machine off and isolated from the mains electrical supply. Note – it is crucial to respect the hazard information provided with your machine and to follow safe working practices when carrying out any checks or interventions.
Typical items to check and replace include:
- Hydraulic oil level
- Oil and air filters
- Hydraulic pipes and cylinders for damage or leaks
- The working pressure of the hydraulic system
- Oil temperature
- Strapping device, needle assembly and twisting assembly
At longer intervals, the wear pads on the main press should be checked. These stop the press from wearing into the main body of the baler, which can be expensive to put right. These can be shimmed or easily replaced. Other things to check include the condition of the needle slot rubbers and clamping plates, the condition of the shear blade if fitted and the scraper.
4. Daily Electrical Checks
Electrical faults are rare but daily checks must be performed to ensure operator safety.
- The condition of exposed cable and limit switches – it may be necessary to encase cables to prevent rodent attacks. Note: Lethal voltages are involved and remedial work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
- Safety limit switches on all access doors should be checked to ensure safety interlocks activate when doors are opened.
- All emergency stop systems should be operating correctly before the machine is used.
5. Achieving breakdown free operation and zero maintenance issues
So, there’s plenty you can do to limit breakdowns and maintenance issues. It’s all about taking control and good site practice. And it’s not as time consuming as you may think.
Combining daily preventative maintenance with a professional annual service, will deliver:
- Greater peace of mind
- Fewer unexpected breakdowns
- better long term performance from your investment
At Middletons we are here to help. We now offer remote diagnostics to help you resolve issues quickly and we service all makes of machine. For free advice on reducing breakdowns or further information on our services, why not give us a call?