Equipment uptime, longevity requires holistic fluid management

The best managers prepare their organizations for long-term sustainability and profitability. In the world of manufacturing, that means having a plant maintenance strategy that maximizes equipment uptime and service life. One key to maximizing uptime and service life is developing a holistic approach to fluid management.

02/01/2009


The best managers prepare their organizations for long-term sustainability and profitability. In the world of manufacturing, that means having a plant maintenance strategy that maximizes equipment uptime and service life. One key to maximizing uptime and service life is developing a holistic approach to fluid management. You must move from a “time-based fluid replacement program” to an “event-based fluid management strategy.” And while the term “strategy” may imply complicated or costly, it does not have to be. Today, state-of-the-art fluid management represents a strategy that is simple, interactive, technology-enabled and cost effective.

So, as a plant manager, how can you support your maintenance team and show real savings for the long haul? Or as a reliability engineer, how can you advance your fluid management program to realize top-tier reliability? The answers lie with full-service providers, a holistic approach to fluid management and modern management systems.

Pulling the parts together

Most plant managers have various pieces of an effective fluid management strategy already in place. However, it’s important to take a more comprehensive perspective when trying to understand the full impact your plant’s fluids have on manufacturing productivity. A complete fluid management program should include:

  • Detailed laboratory analysis for all fluids

  • Advanced fluid management systems

  • A unified source for fluids, filters and equipment along with analysis services

  • Analytical resources to help develop actionable remediation tactics.

    • Working with these tools can help you move from inconsistent, multi-vendor fluid testing that can be difficult to track and manage to a unified program that consolidates your plant-wide fluid management data for strategic planning. A unified program enables you to track fluid analysis results, diagnostic recommendations, preventive action taken and the resulting benefits. It also allows you to compare brands and formulations and develop reports demonstrating operating improvement and cost savings.

      Core of a holistic approach

      Fluid analysis is at the core of a unified fluid management strategy. It provides the facts that enable you to manage gear oil, hydraulic oil, coolant changes and filtration practices based on events, rather than an arbitrary time schedule.

      An extreme example of event-based fluid management is provided by Art Berland, a maintenance consultant with 40 years of experience as a manufacturing engineer with Olin and DuPont. Berland has used fluid analysis, along with other techniques, to extend the useful life of a lubricant charge in excess of 20 years with periodic topping off of the charge. According to Berland, “Critical equipment such as turbines and compressors have sophisticated lubrication and filtration systems designed to American Petroleum Industry standards. Fluid analysis shows the circulating oil in these systems is frequently cleaner after operating than when the oil was new.” Here, a time-based strategy would have resulted in the premature replacement of the oil.

      Berland said that among other benefits, “the information provided by fluid analysis prevents catastrophic equipment failure and decreases preventive maintenance activities to shorten planned shutdowns and reduce PM material costs.”

      Technology helps quantify savings

      Advances in how fluid analysis results are communicated, interpreted and used have entered a new era. New interactive software takes the “facts about fluid” and turns them into effective strategies and documented cost savings.

      Advanced fluid analysis providers are able to support users through technology-enabled software and Web applications that: