3 Elements of a Successful Maintenance Program

Rotating equipment represents a significant percentage of maintenance work in industrial factories and plants. Machinery, like pumps and motors, include high speed rotating shafts and conveyor systems contain elements like stainless steel roller bearings and wheels. The profitability of operations is directly connected to the efficiency and availability of this equipment. Smooth workflows rely on the proper maintenance of these mechanisms.

Good maintenance practices begin simply by developing an inventory of rotating equipment. Next, recommended maintenance must be identified and associated with each piece of equipment. Finally, scheduling and performing inspections and routine maintenance procedures are the steps required to sustain efficient operations.

Inventory of Rotating Equipment

Plants and factories include dozens, if not hundreds of different pieces of equipment. Tracking each item requires a painstaking conscientious ongoing effort. The effort expended to compile a thorough inventory will form the basis for a successful equipment maintenance program.

Owner’s and operator’s manuals are good sources of information for the inventory. Sorting these documents alphabetically, by equipment location or according to the plant process they support are different organizational strategies. The critical factor is consistency in the system of documentation to simplify access. Compiling and reviewing these documents will yield the initial inventory of rotating mechanisms.

After extracting inventory data from the documentation, a facility walk-through inspection is another valuable resource. While in theory owner’s and operator’s manuals should be comprehensive, a visual examination may uncover oversights. Often, between large industrial systems and equipment, there are smaller ancillary pieces of equipment, lacking documentation, that can be overlooked. Linkages and couplings are good examples that may contain rotating elements.

Associating Recommended Maintenance With Equipment

The initial review of documentation will identify the manufacturer’s recommended practices as well as information like Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rates. Extracting critical recommendations distills the pertinent maintenance-related information into clear step-by-step instructions. Including the intervals at which to perform each procedure, tools needed and estimated time required results in stand-alone maintenance manuals. Particularly for rotating machinery, this step identifies spare parts to be kept in stock. Bearings, for example, are sacrificial elements designed and constructed for a specific lifetime of service. Finally, associating the newly created manuals with specific machinery can be accomplished with a coding system of some kind.

Scheduling Inspections and Maintenance Procedures

Establishing regularly scheduled inspections and the intervals between routine maintenance will minimize disruptions in operations. Inspections identify problems early and avoid unscheduled outages due to unanticipated equipment failure. Field experiences and observations during inspections and routine maintenance are important sources of information to be included in manuals over time. Compiled information about periodic maintenance help with budgeting for man-hours, tools and parts.

Long-term success in industrial operations relies heavily on the appropriate maintenance of rotating equipment. Careful attention to these practices is reflected in efficient operations and product quality. Thorough planning and execution of maintenance programs keep the wheels of industry turning.

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