CMMS Reliability

CMMS Makes Cooperage Predictive

EP Editorial Staff | November 30, 2022

The Jack Daniel’s Cooperage uses vibration sensors and eMaint CMMS to keep it’s custom barrel-making assets operating at peak efficiency.

The Jack Daniels Cooperage is using eMaint and two types of vibration sensors to put reactive maintenance in its review mirror. 

In 1864, Jack Daniel launched the first registered distillery in the United States. Today, Jack Daniel’s is part of the Brown-Forman family of brands producing and distributing spirits and wine worldwide. The Jack Daniel’s Cooperage, which opened in Trinity, AL, in 2014, is a facility where barrels or casks are made. The cooperage creates thousands of barrels every week for Jack Daniel’s and other brands within Brown-Forman.

Martin Nelson is maintenance and engineering manager at Jack Daniel’s Cooperage. His team includes ten repair technicians and eight preventive-maintenance technicians. Nelson and his team use eMaint CMMS software and two types of vibration sensors from Fluke Reliability, Everett, WA (, to keep their facility up and running.

By connecting condition-monitoring sensors with their maintenance software, the cooperage team can automatically generate work orders when their equipment exceeds temperature and vibration thresholds. As a result, they’ve improved their preventive maintenance and moved into a predictive-maintenance culture.

While the whiskey is made with Jack Daniel’s time-honored and time-consuming process, the cooperage uses state-of-the art technology to make its barrels. “The number one cost that goes into a whiskey is the barrel,” Nelson said. The barrels themselves are made of American white oak from local mills.” To meet Jack Daniel’s exacting standards, Nelson’s team has tested and proved the value of various prototypes of custom barrel-making equipment for different parts of the process. In addition to the machinery used to make the barrels, the cooperage has an extensive dust-collection system. All of it requires strong attention to detail and a firm commitment to asset management.


Every technician on the team uses eMaint. The features they rely on most are the work orders and inventory management. They have customized PMs to include images with captions explaining what needs to be done. “I have several PM reports that autogenerate to me and give me the status of open PMs, overdue PMs, and PM completion percentage, which is huge,” he said. “We are slated to have 100% PM completion on a weekly basis.” The work-order system in eMaint has been a crucial tool for the cooperage in helping to plan and prioritize the work that gets done. “One of the nice things about eMaint is I can differentiate work orders,” Nelson said. “I segregate all the project stuff out versus what’s going on in real time.”

Nelson said he uses several different categories of work orders, including RCCA (root cause and corrective action), safety work, corrective maintenance, TPM (total productive maintenance), and emergency maintenance. Identifying what’s most urgent, for example, or what will require specialized parts or labor, helps the team ensure they have the resources they need when and where they need them.

The eMaint CMMS has played a major role in helping the Jack Daniel’s Cooperage move from reactive/preventive maintenance to a predictive-maintenance culture.


“Working with the developers of eMaint has been overall a good experience, and I’ve been told that some of the things we’re doing have never been done before,” Nelson said. “What’s always the fun part is the development of different processes to help mitigate risk of downtime and make a business unit stronger. And when you’re stronger, you’re more profitable, right?” The revamped inventory-management system at the cooperage has been so successful that other facilities within Brown-Forman will implement it as well. “The buy-in comes when you demonstrate the effectiveness of mitigating downtime and start showing them the uptime,” Nelson said.

Vibration Monitoring

Approximately 31 staves—narrow lengths of wood—go into making each barrel. The staves are precisely shaped on all sides with the cooperage’s specialized equipment. Thousands of barrel staves are processed each shift. “Since we’re in the woodworking business, we have a vast dust-collection system,” Nelson said. “If that dust-collection system goes down, it shuts the operation down.”

The cooperage uses vibration sensors on the gearboxes, blowers, bearings, and motors that are part of the dust-collection system. The cooperage uses two types of vibration-monitoring sensors from Fluke Reliability: VibGuard sensors and Fluke vibration sensors. The sensors and software work together to keep the maintenance team updated on how equipment is operating. “I like the way that it does the reporting and autogenerates the work orders when it’s out of its threshold—over the temperature or vibration,” Nelson said. VibGuard vibration sensors offer advanced alarm tools to monitor for specific failures.

With access to real-time machine health data in their CMMS, maintenance teams can advance their connected reliability journey. Connected reliability is about centralizing data from different systems and tools to make it readily accessible and actionable. Pairing sensors and software makes a more holistic approach possible, where teams are able to plan rather than react. “I’m running Fluke vibration sensors on a lot of my A class equipment,” Nelson said. “Now we’re not only getting our preventive maintenance where it needs to be, we’ve also moved into the predictive maintenance side.” EP

For more information about eMaint, VibGuard, and Fluke vibration sensors, visit


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