By Bryan Christiansen, Limble CMMS

The autonomy and sophistication of assets continue to evolve as technology advances. That, and stiff competition, leaves no room for error in asset management. Companies continuously invest in cutting-edge technologies and adopt lean operational and maintenance strategies to prevent breakdowns or damage to critical production assets. The evolution has seen companies ditch the run-to-failure maintenance strategies to accurate, data-driven proactive measures. 

A proactive maintenance strategy prevents the occurrence of asset failures or breakdowns in production processes. These measures aim to identify and eliminate the root causes of defects and asset failures. They use advanced tools such as condition-monitoring sensors to evaluate the real-time operation of assets and provide insights on early signs of failures and how to fix them before they happen. A proactive maintenance program can utilize one or a combination of the following strategies:

These strategies rely heavily on technology. Their efficiency depends on the quality and quantity of data that maintenance personnel can collect and access. The adoption of proactive maintenance goes hand-in-hand with the use of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), the installation of condition-monitoring sensors, and investment in physical and cloud-based information technology architecture. These technologies improve data collection and analysis to streamline maintenance activities. 

Equipment effectiveness

Organizations measure the productivity of equipment based on the availability and reliability of production assets. Defects in auxiliary or critical power production assets can lead to undesirable downtime and outages. It means that sections of the plant are shut down for the technicians to perform corrective measures. Such scenarios mean that facilities cannot achieve their production targets. 

Companies that adopt proactive maintenance measures improve the overall equipment effectiveness of their assets. They perform preventative measures at regular intervals, inspect critical assets and monitor them in real-time to identify and correct defects before they cripple operations. These measures ensure that the available assets are reliable and operate at optimum levels throughout their production cycles.

Proactive maintenance extends the life of physical assets. The measures minimize the possibilities of failures or component damages occurring. That way, the company spends less to purchase spares and replacement components. The company can utilize the critical assets to generate and distribute power beyond their designed lives. It allows the company to earn revenues and enjoy better returns on investment. 

Plant safety 

Power plants and distribution facilities have several fail-safe technologies and devices. They operate under a strictly regulated environment and must comply with statutory regulations. While these regulations and safety utilities protect employees and the environment, there are situations when failures occur and result in irreversible damages. The breakdowns can cause accidents or injuries and release hazardous energy and waste to the environment. 

Proactive maintenance improves the safety of power production facilities. Technicians have access to accurate maintenance data to perform root cause analysis of recurring failures. They can also correct defects in components such as valves, bearings, seals or control systems before they affect the operation of other assets. These interventions eliminate emergency breakdowns and scale down the intensity and impact of failures if they occur. 

Companies that implement proactive maintenance measures distribute workloads across specific intervals. It prevents the deferment of maintenance activities and guarantees the wellness of technicians. The quality of maintenance work deteriorates if the technicians respond to several emergencies within short timelines.

Proactive maintenance reduces maintenance-related errors and protects employees from workplace injuries and accidents. With manageable maintenance workloads and predictable schedules, the company can effectively control its labor, inventory and risk management budgets. 

Compliance issues

The compliance of power plants and utilities covers the physical environment and the built facilities. Each power production or distribution facility must comply with fire safety, life protection, waste management, emission control, hazardous energy control and utility configuration codes. The company restricts access to critical power production zones using state-of-the-art security systems.

Each of these safety and security facilities must be operational around the clock. The maintenance and routine inspection of smoke detectors, intrusion systems and safety facilities form part of proactive measures. 

By performing proactive maintenance, technicians identify protection systems that are unresponsive to triggers and alarms. They evaluate the response time of critical security devices and the reliability of access control mechanisms. It ensures that only the authorized personnel access restricted zones or operate critical assets. 

Companies using a condition-based maintenance strategy can utilize SCADA systems and IoT sensors to exercise fire suppression valves and check the state of pumps and the quality of extinguishing agents. That way, everyone can perform duties knowing that they are in a safe and secure facility.

Proactive strategies provide maintenance teams with vast amounts of data necessary for streamlining operations and strengthening security controls. The technicians can analyze real-time facility data to evaluate the reliability of security features and recommend changes to security devices or technologies.

First step

Adopting a proactive maintenance strategy is the first step towards improving the productivity of power plants. It is a strategy that requires an investment in relevant technologies and advanced maintenance tools. It involves a change of practices, extensive facility audits, and prioritization of assets before implementation.

The company’s executive plays a role in promoting a culture shift and standardizing operations to ensure a smooth transition from a reactive approach. The benefits of proactive maintenance are not limited to improving productivity, safety and security of facilities. It is a strategy for reducing long-term operations and maintenance costs and streamlining workflows in power plants.

About the author

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

This post appeared first on Power Engineering.