Preventive maintenance improves efficiency at BRITA

BRITA GmbH in Taunusstein, Germany, maximises its water-filter drying efficiency thanks to a successful preventive-maintenance partnership with powder process technology specialist Hosokawa Micron B.V. in the Netherlands. For the past six years, the Hosokawa specialists have been working in close collaboration with the technical team at BRITA to carefully plan the annual maintenance project. As a result, the net downtime of the Hosokawa vacuum dryer at BRITA has been reduced to just eight days a year.

BRITA, a leading international manufacturer of water filter systems and cartridges for both the consumer and commercial markets, installed a Hosokawa vacuum dryer approximately a decade ago. The dryer is used to process the minerals in water filters that are returned to BRITA for recycling. "The cleaning and drying process involves the use of aggressive chemicals that accelerate the wear and tear on the replaceable parts, particularly in the dryer's drive system," explains Rudi Aalders, Sales Engineer Service at Hosokawa. "Therefore, it's essential that all these parts are checked every year and replaced if necessary to prevent the machinery running into serious problems."

Rudi Aalders

Minimising downtime

This overhaul process needs to be completed as quickly as possible in order to minimise the downtime for BRITA. After all, the company produces 1,600,000 litres per year. Therefore, for the past six years, Hosokawa has been working closely with Thomas Krieger, head of the Maintenance Department at BRITA, to ensure that the annual preventive-maintenance programme runs like clockwork. The planning for the overhaul – which usually takes place in June or July – starts around four months in advance. "That's partly due to the long wait for spare parts; some components can have a lead time of more than 12 weeks," explains Rudi. "But it's also to give BRITA enough time to take the production downtime into consideration, and to enable us at Hosokawa to allocate the necessary engineers to the project."

Preventive maintenance, step by step

The maintenance programme starts with two Hosokawa engineers who travel to Taunusstein help the BRITA service team with the disassembly of the dryer. The BRITA service team has already done the necessary preparation work, such as disconnecting the dryer from the control system, so that the engineers can focus on removing the drive unit. On Day 2, the drive unit is cleaned and packed ready for shipment to Hosokawa. "Each year during the overhaul, we make a list of all the components that have been replaced and/or are likely to need replacing the next time around," explains Rudi. "As the inventory holder, BRITA takes care of ordering all of the necessary parts in time for the next overhaul."

BRITA ships all those replacement parts to Hosokawa in an aluminium case. The whole shipment, including the drive unit itself, is transported overnight to Hosokawa. The engineers travel back separately.

Examining 220 parts in just 4 days

As soon as the shipment arrives on the morning of Day 3, the team of three to four technicians plus the two engineers who have travelled back from Germany immediately set to work on disassembling and cleaning the individual components. "The drive unit has close to 220 components. Each component is closely examined in the overhaul workshop to check whether the wear and tear is within the acceptable tolerances," he adds. "If there are unexpected signs of wear and tear on any components that are not readily in stock, we have a special Hosokawa Quick Response Team (QRT) on stand-by to resolve the situation within the tight timeframe."

Drive unit

On Day 4, work starts on reassembly of the drive unit and all its components, which have either been cleaned or replaced. A test run is conducted on Day 6, and this is followed by recoating the exterior of the drive unit. On Day 7, the drive unit is packed and shipped back to BRITA. When it arrives in Taunusstein the following morning, the two Hosokawa engineers are there again, ready and waiting to reassemble the machine. Once the test run has been completed, BRITA's production operation can restart as normal.

Seamless collaboration

"The whole project is completed in just eight working days, and the equipment is actually at Hosokawa in Doetinchem for just four days," says Rudi. "The fact that everything runs so seamlessly is thanks to the excellent collaboration between us and BRITA in terms of detailing and ordering the necessary spare parts, arranging the transport and scheduling the engineers. We're in regular contact. I speak to Thomas Krieger several times a year on the phone and I try to visit him every year. And he knows he can always contact me for advice if there are any problems."

More information

Want to learn more about the possibilities Hosokawa Micron can offer for maintenance partnerships?

Contact Rudi Aalders, Sales Engineer Service:

+31 314 373 393
r.aalders@hmbv.hosokawa.com