Why is Preventative Maintenance (PM) important?
Much like doing things around your house such as changing your HVAC filters or changing the oil in your car, gear in your facility needs regular maintenance too. By performing PM you are catching issues ahead of time and helping to prevent costly repairs in the future.
PM work scheduling varies depending on type of equipment, age, install date, and past maintenance done. Many times, annual PM work is recommended when possible to go in and check the health of the electrical system. Sometimes this isn’t possible depending on whether the facility has a plant wide or temporary outage. In some larger facilities a top down approach is usually the best way to approach prioritizing PM work on gear. If you were to lose the main distribution gear in your facility, you will likely lose the entire plant, so this is often the best place to start your focus on PM. Sometimes different approaches can be taken by taking down one half of the facility every year and then alternating to the other side the next year.
Some different areas of PM work involve mechanical, electrical, and planning.
Often outages are hard to come by to get everything done that you need. Planning is key here to make sure site walks can be done ahead of time to better understand the scope of work and what steps can be taken. Do we have power available or do we need generators? Are badges and prescreening required? Also, during the site walk equipment will be identified, Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) procedure will be reviewed, a One-Line should be looked at as well.
A key piece of any PM on gear is just as simple as general cleaning of the gear with some mild soap and water. This will help keep the equipment looking clean and new as well as help to expose any other issues that might be going on such as rust or other mechanical issues.
Safety and PM work go hand in hand.
All PM should include a good LOTO procedure. Most of the time spent doing a PM is in the prep work. Things like ventilation when a generator is used needs to be taken into consideration. Proper PPE like glasses and cut resistant gloves are important as you will be inside of equipment and potentially grabbing sharp objects. Ergonomics are important as well, as most breakers are in excess of 30lbs each.
When doing some PM work on equipment is always best practice to ensure that the company doing the work is using the correct materials to ensure that the gear is serviced correctly.
Equipment age and obsolescence factors into PM work. The older the equipment the higher the chance for failure. Proper upkeep is critical for gear to keep older gear up and running for a long period of time. Obsolescence plans are important for when OEM stop providing the equipment or spares.
The amount of time needed for PM work depends on the scope of work.
Larger line ups or multiple line ups will take longer than smaller ones. Usually a good rule of thumb is a couple of hours per LV Breaker. This includes cleaning, lubricating, and running the breaker through its paces according to manufacturer’s instructions.
PM work is critical because gear is hundreds of thousands of dollars of investments. Without proper PM, the equipment will not age well and can greatly reduce the life expectancy of the equipment.