Just like a car or any piece of machinery, maintenance is important to ensure hours of trouble-free use. Blenders are no different, since they are often used for long hours.
Without proper maintenance, blending accuracy can be impacted. As a result, regular maintenance can ensure continued control over the cost of expensive material and additives.
To ensure efficient operation, a gravimetric blender should be calibrated. Depending on colorant costs, ensuring the precision of the blender can help the equipment pay for itself.
It is recommended that blenders be inspected at least annually. Preventive maintenance should be performed regularly to ensure blending accuracy is maintained.
Material dispensing gates and valves should open and close freely, quickly, and completely. During maintenance, staff should check for wear on slide gate guides. Cylinder positioning adjustment for correct closing of the gate also should be checked.
Operators should note that a value or gate should close just enough to limit the flow of material, but should not close further.
Connections to the air cylinder should be checked to ensure they are intact and not broken or worn. Air pressure, fittings and air lines should also be checked.
Operators also should inspect blenders for contamination and blow out any particles with compressed air.
Gain-in weight bins should be checked for smooth operation of the discharge valve, gate or flap. Check pivot points, which should not be worn. The valve should not allow dribbles when it is completely closed.
Weight bins should be examined to ensure that nothing touches any fixed part of the blender and its weight is fully supported by the load cells, as it was designed. There must be consistent clearance on all sides to insure accurate measurements. If any interference of the weight bin is found, it should be corrected.
Mix chambers should be checked for bent or sharpened blades that can be created by material abrasion from mixing. Sharp blades are a safety hazard and provide increasingly poor mixing performance.
If mix blades are not in perfect condition, they should be replaced.
Many blender manufacturers offer equipment that allows the customer to connect through ethernet or to download the activity of the blender onto a USB flash drive. The information can be emailed to the manufacturer, who then troubleshoots the equipment be examining the operating conditions of the blender.
As shops look to get ahead of maintenance, many are turning to Industry 4.0 to connect their machines and track operation trends to determine when maintenance may be needed before there is an issue.
By following a regular maintenance schedule, an operator can ensure blenders will operate at peak efficiency, helping a shop to continue to meet customers’ demands and produce quality parts.