The disc pelletizer, also known as a pan granulator, is a preferred approach to agitation agglomeration (wet granulation) for soil amendment producers, mineral processors, and chemical manufacturers, favored for its high on-size yield, ability to fine-tune product, and the premium round granules it produces.
And while this diverse machine is relatively low-maintenance, it does require some routine upkeep and regular inspections as part of a preventive maintenance program.
Having the proper maintenance procedures in place will help to ensure the disc pelletizer continues to run as designed, promoting process efficiency, product uniformity, and equipment longevity. This proactive approach to maintenance also encourages a safe work environment and helps to avoid costly downtime.
General Safety Considerations
Before performing any type of maintenance in the pelletizer plant, it is important to keep the following safety considerations in mind:
- Remain watchful of excessive wear, damage, or malfunction to the equipment. This may include unusual odors, noises, or additional irregularities. Do not operate the equipment if any component is worn, damaged, malfunctioning, or irregular in any way.
- Pelletizer maintenance should be performed only as directed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
- All maintenance-related procedures should be recorded. It is important to document details such as the date, supplies, and condition of each component, as well as the person performing the work or inspection. This can help in future troubleshooting activities and provide essential benchmark data for maintenance planning.
- Shut down, lockout, tagout, and tryout (LOTOTO) all machine controls before performing any maintenance work, including inspections, lubrication, or adjustments.
Note: While this article provides general guidance on disc pelletizer maintenance, it is not a comprehensive guide and is not meant to serve as sole guidance on disc pelletizer maintenance procedures. FEECO does not make any representations or warranties (implied or otherwise) and shall in no event be held liable for any loss of profit or any commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damage.
Basic Disc Pelletizer Maintenance
Following the maintenance procedures laid out by the OEM is the best way to prevent wear or component malfunctions in any type of equipment, disc pelletizers included. It is also a great way to detect potential component issues early and address them before more serious issues can occur. The following information outlines basic disc pelletizer maintenance procedures.
Regularly Inspect the Disc Pelletizer
Operators and maintenance personnel should routinely inspect the unit for any wear, as well as visual or auditory abnormalities that could indicate a problem.
Ensure Proper Lubrication
Regular lubrication of the bearings, reducer, and motor should be carried out per OEM guidance. Lubrication frequency, as well as type of lubricant, may differ depending on the custom specifications of the equipment, so it is essential to follow manufacturer guidelines.
Perform Reducer Maintenance
In addition to lubrication, it is important to keep the reducer vent clean of material build-up. The oil in the reducer must be maintained at the correct level as well. Furthermore, the reducer must be drained of all oil, flushed out, and refilled with new oil after the first six months of operation. It is important to refer to the reducer manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations to ensure all maintenance procedures are done correctly. It is also a good idea to send out a sample of the reducer oil to a third-party testing facility to be assessed for possible contaminants in the oil, as this can be a sign of internal component wear.
Conduct Spray System Maintenance
The spray system requires periodic inspection and cleaning, as spray tips may become blocked if not checked and cleaned regularly. A blocked nozzle is often indicated by an irregular spray pattern. Maintenance recommendations from the spray system manufacturer should be followed as outlined in the disc pelletizer manual.
Monitor and Address Pelletizer Plows/Scrapers
The scraper plows are responsible for keeping the pan bed clean and flat. Damage/wear to the scraper plows can result in reduced pelletizer performance. It is critical that the pelletizer plows are all installed at the same offset from the pan bed to ensure a flat and even surface for the pelletizing process.
Worn scrapers should be replaced as needed, as they can allow material to build up unevenly on the pan face, which can cause the disc to run unbalanced, putting undue strain on the reducer.
Scrapers are likely to wear more quickly when working with an abrasive material, so it’s a good idea to keep spare scrapers and an extra scraper bar on-hand for fast replacement.
Minimize Material Buildup
Material can tend to build up in several places on the pelletizer. The most common places include: the discharge chute, pelletizer plows, pelletizer pan rim, and pelletizer feed chute.
Material buildup can impede material flow and reduce the pelletizer’s efficiency and in some cases, capacity. Excessive buildup can also cause more problems down the line if a large piece of buildup breaks free and travels down the process line.
Maintain Expanded Metal
For disc pelletizers that utilize an expanded metal lining, operators and maintenance personnel should keep an eye on the condition of the liner. A worn liner can cause inconsistencies across the pan face, affecting overall efficiency and product quality.
Keep Spare Parts On-Hand
FEECO recommends keeping an inventory of spare parts on hand, including additional nozzle heads and scrapers, in case damage occurs to either component.
Follow a Disc Pelletizer Maintenance Schedule
A typical maintenance schedule is outlined below. The conditions under which a disc pelletizer operates, along with its level of duty, may necessitate a more rigorous schedule. FEECO recommends working with the OEM to establish a schedule based on your plant’s specific needs.
- Weekly: Check lubrication of drive components and lubricate as necessary.
- Bi-weekly: Check for unusual wear. If found, identify the cause and rectify.
- Monthly: Check cleanliness of components; remove any accumulation of material or foreign objects.
- Every Six Months: Carry out above checks, check the condition of the lubricants, send an oil sample for third-party testing and drain and refill oil if necessary.
Have the OEM Conduct an Annual Inspection
In addition to on-site personnel conducting regular inspections, FEECO recommends that the OEM carry out an inspection annually (or as needed, depending on the level of duty).
An annual inspection is a more in-depth assessment of the unit and can help to catch potential issues at their onset, before they have a chance to escalate into something more serious. Depending on the provider, the inspection will typically evaluate the mechanical condition of the following components:
- Equipment base and anchors
- Equipment frame and weldment
- Discharge chute
- Drive components
- Pan hub
Consider a Pelletizing Process Audit
Plant managers experiencing inconsistent production, product quality issues, a change in operating conditions, or unexplained inefficiencies may benefit from a process audit.
Depending on the specific challenges a facility is experiencing, a FEECO process audit will consist of reviewing design data, observing the process, pinpointing and troubleshooting issues, and in some cases, operator training.
Pelletizer Operator Training
While it is important to follow proper pelletizer maintenance guidelines, it is equally important to ensure that the pelletizer plant is operated and maintained by trained personnel. Proper pelletizer training gives operators the tools to improve productivity, increase on-size material yield, and minimize downtime.
Key Takeaways for Disc Pelletizer Maintenance
- Always perform necessary safety checks and procedures prior to conducting any maintenance.
- Regularly inspect all components for wear or abnormalities. This should include scrapers, nozzles, and expanded metal (where applicable).
- Minimize material buildup on components.
- Inspect and clean nozzles regularly to avoid blockage and inconsistent binder feed.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines for maintenance procedures and lubrication requirements.
- Keep the reducer vent clean and ensure oil is always at the proper level.
- Keep an inventory of spare parts.
- Consider a process audit to improve efficiency and address operational issues.
- Ensure operators and maintenance personnel are properly trained.
While a disc pelletizer does not require an extensive amount of maintenance, it is critical that the equipment is properly inspected and maintained in order to promote longevity and reliability.
As the leading manufacturer of custom disc pelletizers, FEECO is available to support disc pelletizer operations with installation support, spare parts, routine maintenance, inspections, and training.
To learn more about our disc pelletizer maintenance services, contact us today!