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Smart condition monitoring helps barley malt producer keep a head

03 October 2018

Muntons Malt, one of the UK's largest producers of malted barley has chosen the Smart Condition Monitoring (SCM) system from Mitsubishi Electric to protect fans and motors vital to its large-scale and sensitive production process. Used to make beer, spirits and a range of popular foodstuffs, malted barley is produced in large batches where conditions are critical to a consistent product.

The operation team had previously experienced issues with difficult-to-reach bearings inside a large fan housing and wanted to stay ahead of the game in future. Plant Engineer Michael Plawecki explains; "the malting process was established literally thousands of years ago and still involves steeping, germination and kilning of barley ears. The big difference now is the scale of operation; we process many tonnes at a time and the last two processes both rely on a steady supply of blown air. The fans and motors that provide the air are therefore critical to our operations.

"Like many food industries, the principles of the process are quite traditional, but we rely a lot of automation, electro-mechanical equipment and sensors to provide fine control over air flow, heat and moisture. Each batch is very valuable, not just in monetary terms but also to the customer, so we are extremely pro-active when it comes to service and maintenance of our equipment.

"We were however caught-out by a bearing inside a fan assembly that we only realised had problems when it was too late, and we had to make an unscheduled stop on one of the lines to make repairs. Determined to learn from that lesson we found what looked like an ideal solution from Mitsubishi Electric, an automation brand we trusted. The key for us was to find a system with sophisticated predictive maintenance technology onboard that could be linked to the existing SCADA system and provide us with the maximum forewarning of any future issues yet was quick and easy to install."

Read the full article in the October issue of DPA



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