We had started some discussions about how to tune our perception about true basic maintenance. In the sense of how easy and safe it is and its current and long run benefits. We had taken also two (2) steps into the exploration of the maintenance documentation. We shall continue on this documentation series to explain the documents and set up some documents together. But before going deep into setting up our maintenance documentation which is one of the pillars of maintenance, we need to delve a little deeper into Why maintenance is Important?
You can review those previous chats in the links below:
- Maintenance 101 : Documentation – 2, checklists
- Maintenance 101 : Documentation – 1
- How to transcend old maintenance perceptions?
Basic work concepts that makes maintenance important:
Those concepts which we shall speak about here are fundamental for every maintenance system. Moreover every maintenance document should point out to them. They are the Health and Safety, Environmental Impact & Added Value to the business. We shall focus this chat on Health & Safety then we shall follow up on coming chats with the other concepts.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety in the sense of:
1. Safe usage of production equipment
Here we shall point together some examples of maintenance role in the safe operation of equipment in life and industry.
Just think of the maintenance of the vehicle brakes. How it affects the safe operation of your car, school bus, fuel truck and their surrounding vehicles. The operator or the driver of the vehicle has 2 roles. One of them is to follow the maintenance instructions. And, take his vehicle to maintenance at the preset time for inspection. Inspection would include the brakes system as one of its items. The second role is to sense any abnormality in the behavior of the brake system. And, to request maintenance for it out of the preset schedule before its total failure.
Let we take another life example and link it to industry or business. You have many forms of water heaters at home. One is for the tap water, other is built in the washing machine and one for your coffee machine or kettle. Let us imagine if the thermal switch of the kettle failed to operate correctly. It didn’t switch off the heating element, Water will continue to boil till evaporate and the heating element might fail and you lose the equipment. You as an operator need to be be conscious toward the normal time needed to auto switch off. Also, the sound and smell changing that will let you take an action of manually switching it off. Then, either you further examine it, send it to maintenance or replace it.
Expand this simple information to the boilers or furnaces used in industry. Those equipment include many sensors that senses the temperature, pressure and even the time of the process cycle and switch the process off at any abnormality. The unsafe condition resulting from the equipment failing to perform its function as designed is growing exponentially as the size of the industry and consequently business increases
Maintenance is important to ensure the safe operation of the production equipment in life and business.
2. Safe performance of maintenance
That’s doing maintenance safely. When the maintenance team is doing its job, it is far more closer to the equipment and its internal parts and hot, heavy, sharp or moving parts than the operator. It is crucial to keep clear the safety procedure to lock the machine and ensure it is safe to maintain . In the absence of this safe conditions for maintenance performance, there would be a high probability for accidents or incidents during the maintenance performance.
That’s why the maintenance team won’t focus on doing his job. The consequences of doing any job while you are worried or loaded with accidents history will be either skipping some work details or, declining to do the job or quitting this unsafe workplace. The end result will be operating unmaintained equipment which will lead to unsafe operation of the equipment. This will take us back to the health and safety risks discussed in the previous point.. When the equipment are not maintained, they are not safe for operation
3. Healthy working environment
Let us start small to understand the concept. Think about a group of unmaintained vehicles in the street. The poisonous combustion exhausts from those vehicles will generate health issues to the vehicles drivers, the passengers and the neighborhood in general. Now think about those emissions from an industrial plant where chemical reactions, heating, burning or melting generates harmful fumes. Either these harmful fumes are part of the process so they need to be extracted to closed safe systems, filtered and damped. Or, they can result from the not tuned operation of the process as wrong fuel mixture. Or, it can be from some equipment in this system that leak those fumes and need to be repaired.
Same concept applies for the chemical or fuel leaks, lubricants leaks or spillage and even cooling water leaks. All those liquids or material when come out of their closed system and get closer to the user or operator are harmful and will effect his health at least due to slippage.
Effective maintenance systems for those functions will maintain them in optimal operation condition and, will ensure the health and safety of the users and the operators
Why we had chosen Health and safety as a starting point to demonstrate how maintenance is important?
The ultimate goal of life is to serve the well-being of people. Those people can be the consumer of the goods, the user of the machines, its operator or its maintainer.
Safety and health incidents which involves the risk or actual adverse effect on the humans health and safety are controlled by law acts. Such incidents would call for an intervention from the governmental authorizations and might result in penalties and fines and suspension of the operations.
Safety and health incidents finds its way quickly to the media and consequently raptures the reputation of the product or the work place. It might even call for stands from society organizations or associations.
What Initiates Maintenance?
The Maintenance activities even the simple time based ones are triggered based on data. These data can be the operation hours, the working days on the calendar or, the condition of the equipment. This points out the necessity of having these data recorded. To be recorded it should be measurable whether in quantitative or qualitative ways. Measurement gives a validation for initiating the action Measurement also provides a reference to compare the machine performance before and after the maintenance.
Maintenance activities usually falls in 2 categories:
- Either Maintenance prevents a failure
- Or, repairs a failed equipment
To be able to track the importance of maintenance in the safety, health , environment and as an added value, we need to first understand what is considered a failure.
Currently failure is defined as the asset failure to perform one or more of its intended functions rather than than being totally out of operation. Surely, when the equipment is out of operation that’s a total failure. However, focusing on partial failures is where the added value of maintenance comes. When you clearly define the function, this can help to detect the early signs of failure or what we call partial failures.
Defining the function of an equipment need to be as detailed as possible to help us understand the partial failures. If we take a cooling water pump as an example to define the pump function. We can think of 2 definitions. The first definition is to pump cooling water to the shell of the heating furnace. The Second definition would be to deliver 1000 m3/hr of water at pressure 4 bar to the shell of the heating furnace. An addendum to this second definition would include the foot print of the pump’s vibration, electric current consumption. sound level-if measured- at a certain operating temperature and without any leak.
Examples for different approaches to a potential failure:
- The delivered flow is less than 90%
- The delivered pressure is less than 90%
- Motor ampere while running full load is more than 110% of the footprint.
- The vibration is more than 0.5 m/sec. or its equivalent from ultrasonic and normal audible sound while running
- There is leakage from the shaft.
To be able to detect any of these changes it needs:
- Data collection which is usually a result of inspection rounds
- Data comparison manually on checklists or using a data sheets
- Decision making if there is a change of the recorded value that needs attention or not
Maintenance is an important business function for many reasons. The most important one is the Health and safety of the consumers, users and the production and maintenance teams.
Health and Safety comes on the top of the list because its absence can disrupt the business as a whole