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Fluke 810 Vibration Tester Helps Alpenrose Dairy Keep Milk Flowing

At Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, OR, operators process raw milk into a dozen varieties of milk, six cultured products (cottage cheese and sour cream) and 31 flavors of ice cream. It’s a challenge to keep the complex Alpenrose production facility, with its hundreds of motors, pumps and gearboxes, running butter-smooth.

“We’ve got equipment here that if it goes down, processing stops,” said Maintenance Technician and electric motor expert Todd Toburen. “If the bad part is a high-dollar item we don’t have sitting on the shelf, we could be down for a couple of days.” In the dairy business, where fresh products are essential, such an outage is a non-starter.

To prevent such incidents, Alpenrose manages a more proactive maintenance program to help understand when a motor or machine may encounter problems. “This is why this Fluke 810 is relevant to us,” said Maintenance Manager Eric Trummel. “It’s good to have this capability in house and check this equipment every couple of weeks. We get a better idea and a better feel for what’s going on.”

The handheld Fluke 810 is designed for maintenance professionals who need to troubleshoot mechanical problems and quickly understand the root cause of equipment condition. It’s programmed to diagnose the most common mechanical problems of unbalance, looseness, misalignment and bearing failures in a wide variety of mechanical equipment, including motors, fans, gearboxes, couplings, pumps, compressors and more.

The diagnostic technology in the Fluke 810 analyzes machinery condition and identifies faults by comparing vibration data to an extensive set of rules and algorithms developed over years of field experience. The Fluke 810 is not merely a vibration detector, but a complete diagnostic and problem-solving solution.

“Using the Fluke, we’re able to take a reading once a week or once a month,” said Toburen. “If we notice something different we can build a trend analysis with that data. If we notice there’s a change in our frequencies, that’s something we need to look at. Of course we won’t be able every single month to do every piece of equipment here at the dairy. We’ll prioritize what equipment we want to check on a monthly or a quarterly basis, and I’m basing that on what my baseline reading is.”

Machine operators form an important early warning system. If a machine doesn’t feel or sound right to them, Toburen troubleshoots the equipment with the Fluke 810 to see exactly what’s going on. “The nice thing with
this is you’re able to tell, is it the gearbox, is it the compressor, is it the motor, is it the drive end, is it the off end-it even breaks it down to if you have a loose coupling or not,” he said.

The Fluke 810 also rates the level of severity of any problems it finds. “It has four different levels,” Toburen said. “Green being slight, yellow being moderate, orange being serious and red being extreme.”

“The Fluke will actually give you ‘loose bearing’ or ‘bearing wear’-it will give you the diagnosis,” he added. “I’ve taken the motors apart and each time I’ve done it, the diagnosis was right on. Then I’d also rebuild the motor, throw it on the workbench, put the 810 back on it and it comes back as either ‘no problem detected’ or ‘slight wear or vibration.’”

“Being able to say there’s something wrong with our equipment, troubleshoot that, get the parts on order, repair it in our downtime and bring it back up online-it’s almost priceless,” said Toburen. “If you don’t have that part on the shelf it could be two days out, and you’re not doing any processing. The amount you can save? It could be significant.”

For more information on the Fluke 810 Vibration Tester, visit


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