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BMI - Providing Peace of Mind by Mapping Drives

At RBB, the production of concrete roof tiles runs on drives that mostly come from Danfoss and are up to 20 years old. Breemes, sister company of itsme, assessed their status and made recommendations for maintenance, replacement and standardisation. As a result, the supplier provided its customer RBB with higher efficiency in terms of spare stocks of drives and energy consumption in production - and ultimately a better night's sleep.


RBB was established in 1963 out of a collaboration between Redland, Braas & Co. and Bredero. It manufactures concrete roof tiles and employs 60 staff at its site in Tessenderlo, Belgium. The company is part of the BMI Group, a global supplier of roofing and waterproofing solutions. "The factory has been around for 55 years," says maintenance and project manager Lander Raymaekers, "and in that time it has grown from being mainly manual work to fully automated." Production is largely driven by Danfoss drives/frequency inverters, which - like most other electrical components - are supplied to RBB by Breemes. The relationship between RBB and Breemes, and its predecessors, spans over 20 years. "Many drives were still originals from the early days and are now end-of-life. That is why last year, we asked Breemes to perform a drive analysis to map out what we had and what the status was; were we still getting support for it, was there any spare and if not, what would the replacement be?"

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Assessment and recommendations

Peter Devue, product specialist Industrial Automation at Breemes, carried out the drive analysis. "As a certified partner in the Danfoss Drives Partner Excellence Program® we support RBB with our specially trained support team for Danfoss products and solutions. One of our Danfoss services is the DrivePro® Site Assessment. As part of this service, we mapped and assessed in detail all the drives in production at RBB: status, age, physical appearance, power setting and the values of other parameters. We also looked at criticality: if a drive were to fail tomorrow, does the downtime pose a huge problem and do we need to replace that drive immediately, or can it be idle for a few days?"

"Breemes mapped and assessed all the drives at RBB"

The assessment resulted in a report, which Breemes supplemented with recommendations for follow-up; is preventive maintenance needed or should a drive eventually be replaced preventively, because the risk of failure is quite high; or is it sufficient to keep a follow-up type in stock? Devue: "Based on this report, we worked with RBB to determine a service solution aligned with their maintenance strategy. This enables them to plan maintenance, retrofits and future upgrades." Of course, the recommendations included energy savings. "New drive types operate more efficiently and consequently have lower energy consumption. That is, however, not the main reason for replacement, because that is the risk that older types pose to the continuity of production."


Standardisation

While on the subject of efficiency: "An important goal was to obtain standardisation of the drives," says Raymaekers. "Our largest group of drives is situated between 0.5 kW and 15 kW, with huge steps in between and peaks of up to 37 kW. If we had to stock all of these, that would be way too much. We divided the drives into four groups, based on power and installation size, and established a standard model for each group. This allows us to cover a wide range of drives with a limited stock." That default model for each group is the drive with the highest power in that group, so a particular drive can sometimes be oversized in terms of power, but it outweighs the savings on stock. "For the higher powers, there are huge differences in price, but for the low powers they are negligible." This standardisation move is part of the transition to a single SAP system that the BMI Group will work with globally. In doing so, the goal is to reduce the number of item numbers and suppliers. "Every day we are therefore looking for increased efficiency. This allows us to consolidate the cooperation with Breemes and itsme in the Benelux for electrical components. It indeed offers the possibility that we will order even more from them."

"This allows us to cover a wide range of drives with a limited stock"

In total, the project involved just under 100 drives, 80% of which were from Danfoss and the rest from some older brands. Devue: "For those, we can offer alternatives from the Danfoss range." The reason being that Danfoss was not at issue in this project, explains Raymaekers. "We have been working with their drives for a long time and our technicians have gained a lot of experience with them. What also matters to us is the long cooperation with Breemes, a major distributor for Danfoss in Belgium. Breemes is not just a supplier, but also has a lot of knowledge and experience. If something is wrong with a component and we call them, they will have replaced it within the hour. They always help us fast. Another reason to work with Danfoss is that they have a branch in Belgium. If Breemes can’t solve the issue, we get in touch with Danfoss in Brussels directly; their support is fantastic. That completes the service story. Those short lines of communication with Breemes and Danfoss are a huge bonus. For our small technical department, there is definitely added value there." Devue: "Besides sales, we support RBB with technical advice and training." Raymaekers: "This spring, two of our technicians will attend a two-day Danfoss training course at Breemes. When they return, they intend to transfer the knowledge they have gained to the team."


Healthy sleep

A similar project as with the drives is now underway for the PLCs, Raymaekers adds in conclusion. "Last year, we mapped out which PLCs we have, what their status is, what support there still is and what we need to replace to guarantee continuity. We run a lot on the S7 PLCs from Siemens and their older types are disappearing from the programme. We will be replacing these with the S7-1500." With this project, as with the drive project, RBB aims to reduce production downtime. "That is our daily objective, to raise the OEE ('Operational Equipment Effectiveness', ed.) numbers. Each and every element of our production system, from just a simple conveyor belt to a drive or a PLC, has its impact. In the end, we don't want to lie awake every night wondering whether a drive or other product will last until the end of the next day."

 

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