Keep Maintenance Simple: Use Senses and Sensibility

Robert Apelgren

What good is it to have advanced maintenance techniques if they have no real benefit over simple basic maintenance? Now I am not saying go and throw away all of your fancy toys. What I am saying is that you don’t have to have advanced tools for every maintenance task. I have seen many maintenance groups that have adopted certain maintenance techniques and, in turn, overuse them on everything they can be used on. The point is, why use them if they are not cost effective?

There are many cases in which a failure can be detected with an operator’s or technician’s built-in test equipment that takes no special training to use. This equipment is his or her senses — sight, sound, feel and taste (not recommended). These are all skills that should be taken into account when performing any kind of maintenance analysis. In many cases, a technician or operator can detect a potential failure in adequate time to mitigate the consequences of a functional failure.

Many different improvement programs use criticality to determine what maintenance they need to use to effectively manage their asset. If a functional failure has no impact on safety, environment or operation and minimal economic impact, and an operator or technician will normally detect the failure in plenty of time, why would you use any tool that costs more than just the standard senses?

Many of the different maintenance improvement programs being used today employ logic that helps guide the decisions on what maintenance to perform. This logic normally includes probability of failure and severity of the failure. This approach can help avoid performing unnecessary and costly maintenance.

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