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Reliability Maintenance Takes a Medical Approach to Rotating Equipment, Part 1 - A Prescription for Healthy Systems - HECO

June 21, 2023

Diagnosing, responding to, and preventing issues within rotating equipment proactively is the goal of reliability maintenance.

While this industrial approach focuses on improving process productivity and increasing overall system efficiency and ROI, reliability maintenance also has a lot in common with the practice of medicine. After all, both medical and maintenance engineers work to treat symptoms, prevent pain points, and increase lifespans.

Beyond the aim of these two fields, many of the tactics used to do so also cross over from the medical to the industrial fields.

At HECO, we are the doctors of rotating equipment. As the medical field advances, so do many of the techniques we use to care for your electric motor systems with skilled reliability maintenance.

Just as advances in medicine have more than doubled human life expectancy, the application of reliability technology to maintenance has brought similar results to the motor and maintenance industry.

The similarities between medical diagnostic testing and industrial reliability testing are remarkable. For example, compare blood testing and oil analysis, ultrasonic testing for heart valve leakage, and ultrasonic surveys for steam/air leaks. The application of these and other Predictive maintenance tests will be discussed, and examples of each technology will be provided in this 7-part blog series.

A Proactive Approach

Much of the increase is due to the ability to diagnose illness and disease at early stages of development and take appropriate action. Preventative medicine relies heavily on the use of diagnostic testing (being proactive).

If we in the maintenance field apply a similarly preemptive approach, we can also expect to see a corresponding increase in the life expectancy of our plant machinery. The parallels between medical diagnostic testing and industrial Predictive technologies can be expertly applied as part of a comprehensive reliability program and assist Predictive maintenance “practitioners” in increasing the reliability and useful life of plant equipment.

Future Outlook

Medical and industrial technologies provide powerful diagnostic information that, in the hands of highly skilled professionals, can positively affect the life of machines and the operation of related systems, both human and mechanical. Continued improvement is essential for both technologies.

One area where improvement is required (and much effort is being applied) is in the field of prognostics.

This engineering discipline is focused on predicting the time at which a system or a component will no longer perform its intended function. Anyone working in the Predictive field for even a short time knows that once a defect is reported, the next question is “How long will it last?”

As we learn more about machine failure mechanisms, the answer to this question will become clearer.

All Systems Go

Run-to-failure style maintenance can be a lazy and costly way to take care of your body and your machinery. While we don’t claim to be the perfect specimens of physical health ourselves, the HECO team wholeheartedly embraces a holistic, apple-a-day approach to caring for your electric motor systems.

Whether your system needs an annual physical, open-heart surgery, or something in between, we have the experience you need to attain a clean bill of health and implement a holistic reliability maintenance program going forward.

Contact us to discuss what ails your system so we can prescribe the remedy.

Upcoming posts in the Reliability Maintenance Takes a Medical Approach to Rotating Equipment series will include:

  • Part 2 – Temperature Measurements.
  • Part 3 – Ultrasonic Testing.
  • Part 4 – Vibration Analysis & EKGs.
  • Part 5 – Oil Testing & Bloodwork.
  • Part 6 – Modal Analysis & EMGs.
  • Part 7 – Crossovers & Similarities.

Posted in Predictive

A Prescription for Healthy Systems