With cotton prices at a record high, this upcoming year promises to increase cotton acreage in many parts of the Belt. This increase in acres is good news for most ginners. However, since the last few years of relatively low acres and production, manufacturing infrastructure has been lost in the ginning industry, and a backlog of parts and services has occurred. Ginners are encouraged to schedule upgrades and to begin preventive maintenance programs as soon as possible.
A good preventive maintenance program is essential for the success and profitability of a ginning operation. This program may affect daily and annual volume, downtime, energy costs, safety, fiber quality and overall maintenance costs, which include material and labor. A comprehensive gin maintenance program includes management’s commitment to preventive maintenance; identifying causes of downtime, documentation and repair; off-season repair and routine in-season maintenance.
Preventive maintenance programs begin with a commitment to spend the time and resources and communicating the program’s needs and benefits to gin employees and gin owners. The basic principle of preventive maintenance is reduction of downtime and an increase in efficiency. Preventive maintenance will reduce repair costs while having the benefit of increasing daily production.
By doing small repairs on machinery, repair costs are reduced before larger problems occur, as other components are impacted. If smaller maintenance issues are not addressed, they may cause larger problems in the future.
Off-season repair programs should enable the gin to make repairs in an organized and thorough manner, thus minimizing gin downtime. Good communication is essential, and planning should include the plant superintendent and ginner. It should be noted that gin employees who work in specific areas of the gin might be good sources of information.
In making any repair, care should be taken to ensure that adjustments are made according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The manufacturer’s parts’ instructions and/or maintenance books provide all the information necessary to make the proper adjustments. It is important that a list for all the parts, which may be needed for making repairs, should be compiled and updated frequently.
In-season gin maintenance programs involve accurate documentation, communication and planning. This process involves compiling the repair and downtime data, performing preventive maintenance, thoroughly cleaning the gin, troubleshooting problems, planning repairs – with the goal of satisfying the customers’ needs for timely, quality ginning.
Finally, a strong safety program needs to be coupled with a good preventive maintenance program. If you haven’t started, don’t delay because cotton will be coming to the gin in no time.
– Thomas D. Valco, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer. For
additional information, go to http://msa.ars.usda.gov/gintech. Contact Valco in Stoneville, Miss., at (662) 686-5255 or firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
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