Avoid surprises with preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance can help companies keep their machinery running and prevent faults, but users should consider noninvasive techniques that don't end up causing inadvertent damage during the maintenance process.
By David Manney, L&S Electric September 21, 2016

Image courtesy: CFE MediaMost business owners are aware of the benefits of establishing a preventive and predictive maintenance program at their facility. Identifying any issues in the equipment before it results in a catastrophic failure can indeed save your company both time and money. It is important, however, for companies to consider everything involved in having a maintenance program at your facility because not every choice is going to be the right choice.

One of the factors to consider is known as the law of diminishing returns. According to this law, as a production factor increases, the production increases along with it, but the rate of return begins to diminish after a certain point. That is also true of preventive maintenance. While having a preventive maintenance program can produce benefits, doing too much preventive maintenance will eventually result in diminishing returns.

Most would agree that the likelihood a piece of equipment will fail increases as its service time increases. Although that may be true in certain cases, the majority of equipment failures are not related to age. A predictive maintenance program comes in handy because it cares for the equipment according to a specific schedule. There is no reason for the user to think that a piece of equipment is going to fail because it has reached a given period in its operation.

That is why it is important to have an ongoing preventive maintenance program that will identify any problems in the equipment at your facility, regardless of their age. At the same time, users need to be cautious that you are not performing to many invasive procedures because that can have an impact on systems that are relatively stable. For example, tearing a pump apart to perform routine maintenance could result in many problems from bearing damage to shaft misalignment to lubricant contamination.

Using non-invasive predictive maintenance tools

One of the ways to avoid these problems is by using noninvasive preventive maintenance procedures. Utilize the following procedures at your facility without interrupting the operation of any equipment or performing any invasive maintenance.

  • Infrared scans: This type of maintenance technology can benefit your facility in numerous ways. It can help to identify hot spots in electrical systems and rotating equipment. It can also be used to determine the areas of energy loss in the building envelope, roof, and foundation of your facility.
  • Laser vibrometer readings: This technology can be used to identify problems with rotating equipment before the time when it would result in a catastrophic failure. Data will be collected up to 660 ft away on any rotating equipment such as agitators, compressors, mixers, extruders, pumps, paper machines, fans, and generator sets.
  • Ultrasonic air surveys: Through the process of ultrasonic detection testing, it is possible to detect leaks in pressure and vacuum systems as well as to detect electrical arcing.

Having an ongoing preventive maintenance program performed at your facility provides many benefits. Choosing the right type of maintenance and technology provides additional benefits above and beyond what a standard preventive maintenance program provides.

David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on L&S Electric Watts New BlogL&S Electric Inc. is a CFE Media content partner.