Preventative Maintenance Cannot Take a Summer Holiday
Is your Preventative Maintenance Program on a summer holiday or does your team perform the critical essential care tasks year-round? An effective Preventative Maintenance program must be executed consistently regardless of the season!
Here is a story from a process plant we have worked with over the last few years. During a meeting with the Leadership team, they agreed with us on the value of executing good Preventative Maintenance (PM). The Plant Manager responded, “We want to do all these things, but we don’t. Can you tell us why?”
What we uncovered is that while the client was looking at all the newest technologies like IoT (internet of things), cloud-based data, and connecting smart devices with mobile apps they were not doing the basic processes of Essential Care and Condition Monitoring.
Basic Essential Care processes include: cleaning, lubrication, alignment, balancing, mounting and operating procedures to name a few. Condition monitoring processes include: infrared (IR) measurements, vibration analysis, temperature readings, visual inspections and leak detection, more can be named but you get the idea.
The client was not even using the simple tools to perform inspections – IR guns or vibration pens. How can their people be expected to use new technologies when they have not mastered the basics?
If it is dirty – clean it!
It is not a mystery that accumulated dirt and dust is the enemy of equipment – dirt and dust never take a holiday. Consistent cleaning improves safety, machine reliability and condition monitoring inspections.
Let’s take for example that you find the temperature is rising on an AC motor. Taking a look at the motor, you see that it is very dirty. You know dirt can block the airflow, which will increase temperature and decrease the life of the motor.
The root causes of the rising
- No inspection (or poor inspection) – if the motor had been inspected properly, the inspector would have seen dirt was accumulating and had someone clean it.
- Lack of cleaning
Since the motor’s condition was beyond dusting or vacuuming, it had to be cleaned during a shutdown.
The question is “Why wasn’t it cleaned?” Do people not understand why cleaning is important or is it they do not understand how to do it? When you develop your PM strategy you need to decide who will do cleaning and how you will train them to do it. Training documents and reference guides should detail both the “Why” and “How” of cleaning equipment.
Back to that client- when we looked at the inspection routes and PM work orders in place, we saw they put some good thoughts into documenting Essential Care and Condition Monitoring for some of the equipment. Still, there were many vague inspections such as, “Inspect motor”. One of the maintenance technicians showed us the PM work order and his written comments, “The motor is still there!” Humour is great, but details are needed on what to inspect, how and where to measure, and the acceptable range.
Train people doing inspections to understand the principals of how the motor and coupling works, and the basic failure modes for key components like the bearings and the windings. Also, train them how to use the inspection tools. If you document and describe these inspection instructions on a PM route or a work order you will get consistent execution of your PM task.
Preventative Maintenance. All maintenance done to prevent a failure (life extension) and detect a failure early (Condition Monitoring) before it impacts the process.
The maintenance department was focused on doing vibration analysis and electrical dynamic and static testing of larger AC motors. But they were still having issues with AC motor failures. We performed a Root Cause Problem Elimination investigation and found the failures were due to either over or under lubrication.
Did they need to focus on detecting the bearing going bad before attempting to make sure the bearings had the right lubrication?
Do PM’s on the AC motors as long as it is cost effective, i.e. Condition Based Maintenance costs less than Operate to Breakdown. Based on our PM evaluation we found the client should do both: the right lubricants, at the right time, the right amount, and have vibration analysis to provide both Essential Care and Condition Monitoring.
As time passed with our assistance the client developed PM inspections with the right frequency, trained the inspectors, and executed them on time. The PM inspections generated quality work requests that were turned into work orders for Corrective Maintenance and was planned and executed according to the schedule.
And they were making progress until…summer!
During summer holiday we noticed the PM compliance went from over 90 percent to less than 20 percent and this went on for several months after the vacation season ended. An effective PM program requires good processes, documentation, tools, and execution of task. The discipline to continue the program had not been anchored in our client’s organization. We determined that the leadership team in Operations and Maintenance needed to be more involved to ensure that processes are executed, and compliance is reported.
Preventative Maintenance needs to be executed according to the schedule despite vacation season, deer hunting season, or moose hunting season. What season will decrease the efficiency of your PM program?
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