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Holistic Equipment Maintenance & Management, Part 1 – Are You and Your Assets Prepared? - HECO

May 10, 2023

When it comes to motors and equipment, a holistic approach requires viewing various segments as a whole rather than a collection of parts. For the purpose of this blog series, we’ll take that notion a step further to look at how issues within a given system are both predicted and responded to.

At HECO, we believe that a combination of preventative maintenance, Predictive maintenance, equipment Repair, and Equipment Management practices must be incorporated to keep your systems running as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. This holistic approach allows you to be fully prepared for issues and avoid unplanned downtime as much as possible.

It all starts with understanding what maintenance practices should be in place for each piece of equipment. Some assets run to failure while others include remote monitoring with a performance guarantee. Most equipment falls somewhere in between.

To begin, you must identify what maintenance philosophies you should apply to each asset.

Jason Spettel, Director of Reliability and Senior Reliability Engineer for HECO’s Predictive Service Group, has more than 30 years of experience implementing and managing Predictive maintenance programs. With his suggestions, you can prepare to take a holistic approach to equipment maintenance and management.

Why Preparedness Matters

“Problems are always going to happen,” Spettel said. “We can’t take care of everything in advance, but we can be prepared and attempt to foresee needs. Once you are able to predict issues, you can schedule that downtime, rather than reacting to it.”

In light of the current economy, it is more important than ever to be ready should an issue arise.

Issues such as supply chain problems, inability to find and keep trained employees, long delivery times and busy vendors, lack of time or budget to properly maintain your equipment, and high production levels that are more adversely affected by failures can be out of your control and happen at any time.

“Everybody has motors and equipment,” Spettel said. “We’re out there doing the inspections now because we want to find those small problems. They may be small, but they can be catastrophic to your plant.

“It’s important to figure out what we need to do so we can do to catch all of these problems before they happen,” he said.

Connecting preventative and Predictive methodology with your maintenance efforts gives you a holistic approach and peace of mind.

The Prescription for Efficiency

The best way to understand current maintenance philosophies and to understand who can help you implement them is to compare the work that HECO does to the medical industry. We are doctors for rotating equipment.

Using our “engineered” skills, we test, diagnose, and treat issues within rotating motor equipment much like a medical professional.

If your child wakes up looking flushed and feeling sore, you take their temperature to determine if they have a fever and call the pediatrician. When your electric motor is making a strange noise and running hot, you check its temperature and fluid levels and call your trusted vendor.

In medicine and motors, proactive monitoring and preventative treatment/maintenance can increase the quality of life as well as life expectancy.

Compared to 100 years ago, humans live 25-30 years longer largely thanks to the ability to diagnose illness and disease at earlier stages and take appropriate action. Preventative medicine relies heavily on the use of diagnostic testing and being proactive.

“If we, in the maintenance field, apply a similar approach, we can expect a corresponding life expectancy from our plant equipment,” Spettel said. We see many companies that just live with their machines as is, knowing that every two years it’s going to fail and that they will need to be replaced.

“Why do you want to live with only two years?” Spettel said. “What if we could increase that to 7 years, 15 years, or even 20 years? Think of what that could change for you and your plant.”

Approaches to Maintenance

A major step toward being prepared is moving away from the run-to-failure mindset. With high unscheduled downtime and the need to stock spare machines and parts, this approach is very costly and makes planning maintenance difficult, often requiring emergency overtime.

It’s similar to ignoring a simple wound until it lands you in the emergency room with an infection.

Time-based maintenance moves into a more preventative approach, offering the ability to schedule evaluations and Repairs, plan for the necessary manpower, and order spare parts as needed.

While this model is more proactive than run-to-failure mindsets, it also has disadvantages. Much like an annual physical, time-based interventions are useful but not all-knowing.

Machines and bodies do not wear at a consistent rate; different conditions and uses affect their wear and tear and may not adhere to historical trends. As a result, interventions may be needed sooner or not at all compared to the designated intervals, potentially causing unnecessary downtime, excessive spare parts usage, or over-maintenance of machines.

Taking Predictive maintenance a step further with route-based monitoring, maintenance is based on machine-specific conditions and trends by utilizing ultrasound technology, thermography, PdM, and other technologies. Over time, this approach minimizes downtime and spare part usage much like resting when you start to feel sick rather than attempting to push through until you can’t get out of bed.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has brought in a whole new level of remote monitoring capabilities to predictive maintenance over the last 20 years.

“With these advances, we are able to obtain granular level data,” Spettel said, “giving us a better chance to capture distinct readings and changes in a process over time.”

For example, if a plant’s remote monitoring system collects three distinct readings a day without human intervention, there is a much higher chance of detecting an issue than a maintenance professional’s weekly route-based inspection.

Along the lines of a smartwatch that detects irregular heartbeats in a patient, remote monitoring gives companies the ability to allocate resources more efficiently.

All Systems Go

Whatever approach to maintenance you’re currently taking, HECO has the experience, insight, and technology to assist you in developing a more holistic Equipment Management System and becoming more prepared.

Contact us to discuss your current approach and how we can help take it to the next level.

The Holistic Maintenance & Management series will continue with Part 2 – Turning Anomalies into Action.

Posted in Equipment Management, Predictive, Repair

HECO Inspecting Water Pump