Northern Foods Avoids Downtime

Gunstones Branch

Northern Foods avoids downtime thanks to a 6hr turnaround on custom gearbox repair by ERIKS, during the worst of the snow.

One of the UK's largest food producers was kept running during the worst of the recent snowy weather thanks to a timely and unusual sealed motor gearbox repair unit at Northern Foods' Gunstones bakery in Sheffield.

Northern Foods produces branded household name products such as Fox's biscuits and Goodfella's pizza alongside retailer own label ready meals, sandwiches and salads, pizza, biscuits and puddings. With a turnover of nearly £1 billion, the company employs around 10,000 people at sites across the UK and Ireland. The company is known within the industry for its quality and consistent delivery.

The company looks to partner with customers who require quality, innovation and high levels of customer service; the same applies to its own suppliers. When a vital piece of machinery required urgent servicing, ERIKS were given the challenge to repair and return an obsolete gearbox as soon as possible.

ERIKS repair depot in Chesterfield is an automatic choice for the maintenance team at Gunstones Bakery, the 24hr operation has come to rely on similar 24hr repair and replace support service for electric motors and gearboxes, especially when the pressure is on. The Northern Foods on-site maintenance team identified a potential problem on the gearbox before it developed into a breakdown and took advantage of a tight production window to make a repair.

The call was received by ERIKS at 1pm and the unusual hollow shaft, housed gearbox and motor unit was collected by 2pm. The gearbox turned out to be a sealed enclosure with a bevel / helical gear reducer and an AC 3 phase motor inside. The unit was sealed for ingress protection due to the frequent wash-downs on the premises required by the strict hygiene standards adhered to on the site.

Fortunately ERIKS had previously performed a full survey of all the rotating machines on-site and the engineers on shift at ERIKS Sheffield workshop that day were able to look-up the unusual gearbox to quickly find the specification, performance and usage data, enabling them to diagnose the fault and identify the correct replacement parts for the food production area correctly. Once the repair was complete, they could also match its test performance with confidence.

Upon inspection ERIKS engineers found that water ingress had caused internal fretting corrosion of the main output shaft-bearing unit; while posing no threat of contamination, prolonged operation would have resulted in raised temperature and eventually seizure of the unit.

The gearbox was stripped, cleaned, inspected and then repaired. This included a bearing change, including a re-bore and bush applied to the bearing housing. The gears were inspected and passed. The motor stator was placed in the stoving oven, usually used to cure re-wound electric motor stators, to ensure no moisture was left and the supply leads were repaired. New seals were applied and the unit lubed and re-assembled.

Gunstones received the unit back with them at about 8.00 pm the same day.

Two engineers transported the re-painted and fully tested unit back to the site on the early evening of the same day. The final part of the service included the ERIKS engineers transporting the unit over the last quarter of a mile of the journey by-hand; due to the fact that the delivery vehicle tyres could not grip the snowy access road, needless to say the onsite maintenance team were very impressed and downtime was completely avoided.

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