Posted at 13 September 2018

Oi! Are you Looking for a Fight?

Paul Skade
By Andy Cruse
Technical Director, Flow Control

I joined ERIKS in 1999 and have over 35 years’ experience in the pump industry. Originally from a service/repair background I have worked in many roles and enviro...

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Most of your maintenance and repair problems, and therefore most of your maintenance and repair costs, arise from a few areas of your plant. So the key to minimising downtime and reducing your total cost of ownership is to identify those areas, anticipate the problems, and have a plan in place to deal with them proactively. In other words, you need to pick your fights. 

man annoyed


Too many plants operate on a reactive basis. An asset fails, there’s a rush to fix it quickly (only possible if you have the spares in store) and then it’s on to the next crisis. 

Some plants think a little bit more ahead. If they have downtime planned – perhaps for an annual shutdown – they will schedule an asset overhaul accordingly. But that’s irrespective of whether or not the asset actually needs an overhaul at that time. It’s also important to realise that even a complete overhaul will not restore an asset to as-new condition. As a result, the Mean Time Between Failure on sequence repairs will decrease over time, until it is no longer cost-effective to maintain the asset.

Let’s be smarter

Planned Preventative Maintenance lets you be smarter about how you spend your M & R budget, by helping you to think ahead, think more deeply, and act accordingly. It gives you foresight, and insight. 

Foresight is knowledge of what’s going to happen with your asset, and being prepared. Insight is a deeper understanding of how, when and why it’s going to happen, so you can prepare even more thoroughly.

So if you’re going to pick a fight, foresight says you should prepare your defences first. 

In M & R terms, that means getting your spares strategy in place, with the parts in store that you’re most likely to need. That could be the parts most likely to fail, critical parts, or components with long lead times. Defences in place, it’s time to attack the problem – with a Condition Monitoring regime that gives you the insight you need to target your resources most effectively. 

Watch and learn

The more you watch your assets, the more you can learn about how they perform and how and when they’re likely to fail. 

Condition Monitoring provides a snapshot of asset performance. For example, a bearing which is failing over time will show up in regular vibration monitoring and may show a gradual trend if regular readings are taken. However some components – a mechanical seal on a pump, for example – can fail catastrophically with no warning at all. That’s why continuous Condition Monitoring is even more effective. 

Continuous monitoring not only enables you to set a benchmark for a new asset with your first vibration reading, but also provides far more reliable trending information. Comparison with the benchmark readings will indicate if something is wearing or failing, and any change in status can be immediately spotted, investigated and rectified before it leads to a breakdown, critical failure, or downtime. 

But don’t forget, to ensure a true indication of asset condition and trending, a new benchmark needs to be established after any and every repair or overhaul. 

If it ain’t broke…

…don’t fix it is not the best way to organise a maintenance regime – because the other side of the coin is “don’t fix it until it breaks.” And that’s when you’re continually repairing rather than maintaining, reacting rather than acting, and risking lengthy production downtime with every component that fails. It’s a recipe for inefficiency and a higher total cost of ownership.

Applying foresight is an improvement. It means you are planning ahead, maintaining rather than repairing, and being more prepared for when a failure occurs.

Insight should be your aim. It informs foresight by helping you understand asset criticality so you can pick your fights. It helps you to be smarter by enabling you to plan interventions. And by showing you how and when assets fail, it ensures you are ready to act quickly and effectively, to minimise downtime, get production back up and running, and dramatically reduce your total cost of ownership. 

So if your going to pick a fight, make sure you're going to win it. 

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