Smarter and greener maintenance through reuse

In the deep freezer of our distribution centre in Halle, automation has taken over a big part of our order pickers' tasks. To maintain this installation, parts are overhauled in house for reuse at a later date. This is good for profits, the planet and the product knowledge of our technicians.

From installation to warehouse and back

Frozen products are processed in our distribution centre automatically for the most part. An installation (working in -25 degrees) sorts and distributes 3,000 frozen packages every hour, ready to be sent to our stores. A machine working in these conditions obviously needs an efficient maintenance plan.

Reliability and maintenance engineer Colin Masson: “The installation contains 75 shuttles, each with 4 motors. These motors cost 350 euros each and we used to replace any defective motors by new ones. Because this is not the best way of working we decided to overhaul the motors and reuse them.”

Colin: “Every 6 months each shuttle is removed from the installation and replaced. The original shuttle is taken apart, completely overhauled and defective parts are replaced or repaired so that it is in perfect working order again. The overhauled shuttle is stored in the warehouse to be reinstalled in the machine at a later date.”

More than just financial profit

Reliability and maintenance engineer Prince Mbuya Bha’Ky: “In addition to the ecological and financial benefits, it is also an ideal way for our technicians to get to know the installation even better. Any overhauls are carried out during the hours that the technicians are on stand-by. This allows us to make more use of the 'lost' hours. And thanks to their better knowledge of the design and operation, any corrective maintenance is carried out more efficiently.”

Other parts are also overhauled. Whereas overhauling a shuttle motor takes about half an hour, overhauling a drive shaft takes two hours. Every year, we overhaul about 50 drive shafts which saves almost 24,000 euros, including working hours. Even more money is saved on the shuttle motors. By overhauling them, we save 63,000 euros. More than worth the effort in other words!

New philosophy

Like many reuse initiatives, overhauling the motors is like a 'new philosophy'. Prince: “Engineers still replace too much instead of servicing more. We want to change that. Often, it is easy to simply replace a broken or worn out part with a new one. Overhauling a part may cost a little more effort in the short term, but it is certainly worth it in the long term.”