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Recently, I saw a sign in a plant that read, “Maintenance – To Maintain, Keep, Preserve and Protect.” This might not be your view of maintenance. It is, however, the view of maintenance to take if equipment is expected to be reliable and operate at the lowest possible cost. But if that’s not what you want, then you can do whatever you wish and define maintenance anyway you want.
For those of us who desire to take the higher road, good maintenance can actually be a very boring activity. At least this is true most of the time. Good maintenance begins with a proactive approach to maintain, keep, preserve and protect the equipment.
The most fundamental proactive system to maintain, keep, preserve and protect the equipment is a comprehensive preventive maintenance program. What does that mean? Preventive maintenance (PM) consists of many parts. Let’s break it down into two primary components: essential care and condition monitoring.
Essential care is preventive maintenance that relates to the prevention of failures. This is analogous to checking the air pressure in the tires on your car or changing the engine oil on a routine basis. In industry, these tasks are generally noted as lubrication, cleaning, adjusting, operating, etc.
Condition monitoring is the part of preventive maintenance relating to the detection of failures. It is like checking the wear profile of your car’s tires. The tires’ wear profile can be how you detect failures (i.e., problems) with front-end components. In industry, these tasks are normally divided into one of two categories: objective or subjective. Objective tasks usually involve applying some type of technology and a physical tool to a component, along with the knowledge of a trained and competent person, to detect impending failures. Subjective tasks typically incorporate the human senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, etc. The detection of failures is subjective in that, based on a person’s senses, it is his or her opinion that a failure is occurring.
While some people believe they have a sound PM program, it is always good practice to have others evaluate the existing program with an unbiased viewpoint. Preventive maintenance is a complex subject that involves the application of the right maintenance tasks at the right time by qualified personnel. If you think your preventive maintenance program could use a tune-up, consider having a deep-dive PM assessment performed.
Terry Taylor is a senior consultant at IDCON, which offers maintenance management consulting in asset reliability.