Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Cleanliness is the first maintenance task for every machine

Our service department often is asked what the maintenance requirements are for any and all of the machinery we manufacture.  We appreciate machine owner's desire to keep their investment in peak condition for maximum production and long life.  For some of our products, the maintenance list is quite low as are the suggested stocking parts.  However, as the complication of the machine increases so does the upkeep. 

Many long standing customers will brag that they have kept their machines in proper working condition for 20+ years.  While this is a testament to the design and durability of these machines it is also a good determinate of the condition of the shop.  Well maintained, but could use some updating. So, as we do appreciate the compliments and understand the owners pride of ownership, there is benefit from keeping updated tools in your shop.

Returning to the question of maintenance requirements, as machines increase in complexity the list of daily, weekly, monthly and bi-annual tasks gets longer.  These tasks will be noted in the manual that is provided with the equipment.  If the machine is equipped with computers, then maintenance tasks are available within the software and reminders for mechanical maintenance can be preset.  The use of this software feature is very helpful in managing all of the essential tasks.  Some customers use this software to schedule additional tasks within the production floor for non-computer driven devices.

The number one maintenance task for any production floor is cleanliness.  

Textile decoration as an industry is inherently dirty.  The lint from fabric floats through everything and the production processes typically require liquids that are sticky.  So lint and fibers will get stuck to everything.  The lint will also adhere to any greased or lubricated surface of a machine.  And it will get pulled into fans, fan belts and chain drive systems.  So let's see chat about havoc that can create.

  • Electronics will overheat and malfunction due to clogged fans
  • Electronic connections will degrade due to lint interference 
  • Lubricated surfaces which allow for smooth machine movement will get clogged, affecting print quality and machine operation
  • Conveyor belts will wear faster and will transfer dirt and debris onto the final product
  • Registration and indexing systems will become inconsistent due to dirt and debris and this will affect registration
  • And machinery aside, what employee wants to work in a dirty shop.  And employees are a production floors most expensive and important asset.

How clean do we suggest?  Lint free is the key.

How do you  keep a garment decorating shop lint free.  You do it by making cleanliness a top priority on the floor.  Cleanliness makes for happier employees and fewer shut downs which will increase production and profits.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with the simplest items, fan filters.  These are designed for easy on/off.  And they are used to keep the electronic cabinet fans clear of debris so that they can move cool air across the electronic components.

Then we can move to the fans.  Whether in the control cabinets or used to move air in and out of a curing chamber, they are essential to the design and function of your equipment.

Now what does all this do to internal components?  Electronic components shut down when they are too hot.  Being covered with lint will cause this.  Relays will fail, switches will stop communicating and thermal cameras will shut down.  Production stops.

What about the chassis and the mechanical items.  They appear to be pushing through but are they?  Or are you setting them up to fail?  And there are no GOODs here.  Seriously, yuck.

And what employee wants to touch these?  And if they do, how do they touch fresh garments and ship them completely clean?  

Ok, we think we have made the issue clear.

So this week, at the end of a work day, pick something and clean it.  Start with wiping down the outside, both the controls and the chassis.  Then get a vacuum and clean out the internal controls.  The whole job should take 20 minutes.  Then another day, pick another machine.  Go through the whole shop and clean everything.

Next time we will chat about those preset maintenance items available in your software.