Monday, March 2, 2015

Machinery maintenance

Almost daily, a customer will ask us for a maintenance schedule for one of their pieces of Brown machinery.  This call is a positive sign of customer preparedness and we are happy to answer any questions.

However, on this question, most callers are dumbfounded as to our answer.  Keep the machine clean.  Which, for most manual shops is the only maintenance necessary.

This appears to be a simplistic approach to maintenance but it is the one basic necessity and it is not as commonly followed as you think.

But let us give you some examples.  All of these photos are from machinery that we have taken in on trade.  Many of these pieces are within 10 year old.

Based on these photos of registration gates of manual and automatic presses, how are the machines supposed to hold register when the gates are full of lint, spray adhesive and rust?  Since the registration and the pivot sections of the print head are the most vital parts, these should be clean and greased.  

The other sections of any textile printer that needs maintenance are the micro registration areas and the screen clamps.  These parts are touched by the operator during a print run and they should be kept clean so that the shirts do not get ink or dirt transferred to them.  Also, if the micro systems are kept clean and greased, then they will be more functional and the set up time for the operator will be less.

Think of the money you will save on operator time and finished product packaging!

Here are photos from ovens.  Oh, my....
Let's start with the fan filter.  All of the electronics need to be cooled using air flow.  If the fans and air ducts are full of lint, what happens to these controls?  They burn out.  That is expensive.

Then comes the heat baffle.  If this is an indication of the whole shop, how does anything run through the oven without getting dirty.  Wiping the lint off flat surfaces doesn't take much time and will save garments.  

The oven frame full of lint is very common for us to see.  The clean dryer belt that is pictured is unusual.  A monthly run of a shop vacuum on any of these machines will keep the lint under control.  Also, if the dryer frame looks like this, what life will the drive motor assembly have?  A short one.  And that is also an expensive package to purchase.

Clean means money saved.

We do get clean trade-ins.  These machines are retired after 15-20 years of production.   The machines were wiped down on a scheduled basis and all of the moving parts were greased.  They are nice to see and they will be great buys for other printers in their second life.  The one pictured below is much newer, but it is a sign of how well this shop maintains their machinery investments. 

Can you blame it on the spray adhesive?

Spray adhesive does coat a machine with sticky residue.  This residue attracts the lint from the shirts and presses can quickly become fuzzy.  A quick wipe down at the end of each week is all that is needed to keep that from happening. 

The lint that is found on and in ovens is not spray adhesive related.  That is just a build up of lint from product run on the belt.  It is the easiest to clean up.  Once a week with a shop vac and it is gone.  Every 6 months it is wise to open the control panel and clean out any lint that may have settled in through the vents.

One industry change that is helping keep shops clean is the reduction of spray adhesive.  Many shops have switched to spreadable platen glue.  This reduces airborne particles that stick to the machinery.  The adhesive is water based, so it wipes off printers quite easy.

So what should you do?

Take a step back and look at your print area.  Does your machinery look like it has cotton candy stuck to it?  Or is there fur?  Then pick up a broom, shop vac, and cleaning rag.  You will have longer lasting equipment, easier set ups and a nicer looking finished product if you do.