In the fast-paced environment of energy projects and with complex systems to monitor 24/7, it may seem that there is no space for forward-thinking activities, that the focus should be on what’s happening right this minute. Companies tend to look for cost-cutting solutions which provide visible results right now, e.g. by reducing the maintenance shutdown time by postponing some activities to the next allocated shutdown. However, this then can result in costly failure and more downtime required for repairs. The industry has to start looking for long-term cost-savings strategies and improved return of investment from equipment purchased.
In this week’s blog, we explore the advantages of preventive maintenance and the tangible results and cost-savings which result.
Time allocated to implementing preventive maintenance strategy is time well spent. The benefits of preventive maintenance can significantly outweigh the costs spent on introducing new measures and will save money and improve the operational efficiency of the project long-term.
While many companies still perceive preventive maintenance as wasteful, not maintaining equipment regularly can be a costly mistake to make. Most operators spend resources on reactive maintenance, that is fixing problems which arise: repairing faulty equipment, replacing broken parts, recovering from damages. This type of reactive maintenance is often necessary, there’s no denying that. However, what is important to realise here is that many issues could be prevented by simply following OEM’s guidelines on regular inspection and maintenance of equipment. Equipment used in energy projects - be it screws holding the structures together or moving parts such as turbines and engines – is subject to continuous strain as well as environmental impact due to elements. Regular replacement of crucial parts can minimise the chances of their damage due to wear and tear. This is what preventive maintenance is about: preventing damage, failure and – as a result – accidents. Preventive maintenance looks at the regular replacement of consumable parts but also cleaning, lubrication, adjustments and minor repairs of non-structural parts. These activities are performed to ensure the equipment is running continuously in its top condition and to prevent downtime and failures. There are also other benefits worth bearing in mind.
While preventing failure is the main point of actioning preventive maintenance, there are other benefits which should be evaluated.
Further benefits stem from those above. Reduced risk of failure and downtime directly translate to better workability, better accountability and overall performance, thus improving the brand image and trust in the company.
The difficulty in calculating the true cost-savings of implementing preventive maintenance is in the need to understand the expense not incurred: “Savings is the difference between what we spent on the repair at the point of potential failure and what it would have cost us to repair it if it had reached a functional failure. That difference is what we save our company.” 1 You may wish to refer to our references for a full article explaining how you can calculate the effective savings based on your project.
Last but not least, the most significant item to consider here is the cost of failure if the failure results in injury to personnel. Obviously the results could be tragic for the persons involved. However, this would not only create legal costs to the operator. The consequences can be very serious for those involved in the maintenance processes and for the project overall.
Once we establish the potential cost-savings, convincing the board to introduce a preventive maintenance strategy will definitely be an easier process!
The transition from reactive to preventive maintenance strategy will involve an initial investment. However, in most cases, the investment expense would be recuperated through the avoidance of failure and costs involved in the ad-hoc repair. The initial expense will include the cost of introducing any new software (and there’s a range of preventive maintenance software available on the market), the cost of other resources spent in the process such as time of the staff involved and costs of spare parts purchased.
Some companies, including Reflex Marine, recognise the growing trend for preventive maintenance and offer support in introducing the new strategy. For all our equipment, we can help develop a suitable maintenance plan based on actual usage rate as well as agree a schedule for the timely delivery of replacement parts, bearing in mind the Toyota method of ‘just in time’ and adjusting it to parts shelf life and operator’s existing delivery schedules.
In the world of digitalisation, companies are expected to increase their production reliability more and more. According to McKinsey study with “digital maintenance and reliability transformations in heavy industries, we see the potential for companies to increase asset availability by 5 to 15 percent, and reduce maintenance costs by 18 to 25 percent.”2 With values as high as that, anyone will agree that improving the maintenance strategy is certainly worth considering.