Authored by Dave Leach, CM Application Engineer, and Ana Maria Delgado, Marketing Manager, Ludeca
“Work smarter, not harder” is a statement we have all heard before, but who has the time to think about smarter ways to work when there is so much work to be done? Some maintenance professionals are so busy trying to keep their operation running smoothly that they often address equipment issues “reactively”. This might make maintenance teams feel more like “firemen” as they respond to in-the-moment needs. So how does a company become less “reactive” and more “proactive”?
First, companies need strong executive leadership to move away from the “run-to-failure” culture. Companies, as a whole, must acknowledge that there are real benefits to making equipment reliability a priority. Taking the time to implement Condition-Based Monitoring or Preventive Maintenance programs can help companies maximize uptime. Maximizing uptime means maximizing a facility’s product output while minimizing the costs associated with producing said product. Using Condition Monitoring enables facilities to determine which of their assets are in good condition and, more importantly, which of their assets will need to be worked on. Condition Monitoring allows failures to be detected earlier in the P-F (Potential to Functional Failure) curve before human senses can discover there is a problem. This greatly reduces safety risks by preventing catastrophic failures and provides the facility with time to order spare parts and plan ahead to schedule the repair.
Maximizing uptime starts with understanding the key components of an Asset Condition Management (ACM) program. Core condition technologies like Alignment, Balancing, Vibration Analysis, and Ultrasound Testing can help you increase uptime.
Alignment – Many machine failures and defects can be reduced or eliminated with precision alignment. Aligning machinery to the correct tolerances can eliminate the root cause of many bearing, rotor, seal, and coupling failures. While only a few OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) offer recommended alignment tolerances, many of the tolerances provided are pretty generic and date back to older alignment methodologies. While alignment tolerances are reliant on RPM (the faster the rotating element, the tighter the tolerances), knowing proper alignment procedures can be very helpful. Click here to download our 5-Step Shaft Alignment Procedure or watch our video about alignment tolerances.
Balancing – All rotating machinery needs to be correctly balanced to stringent tolerances. Balancing rotors to proper tolerances can significantly reduce vibration, which does two things: reduces wear to the bearings and increases the mean-time-between-repair of the pump or rotating equipment. Click here to download our 5-Step Balancing Procedure.
Vibration Analysis – Instead of running a machine to failure and then incurring the cost to repair or replace the equipment, plus the cost of downtime, use vibration analysis as a trending tool to monitor the health of your equipment. A vibration monitoring program can be conducted monthly or quarterly, depending on the criticality of the asset. Collect and trend vibration data so you can look for changes in the vibration signature. Vibration analysis will allow you to detect bearing problems or electrical problems with the motor, giving you a chance to address any issues before they become an unwanted emergency.
Ultrasound Testing – Ultrasound can be used to identify air/steam leaks as well as detect mechanical and electrical faults. Ultrasound can pick up high frequency sounds from a safe distance or from inside an electrical switch gear. It gives you the ability to detect if there is arcing, corona, or electrical tracking problems inside the motor control center (MCC) without opening the panel. From a mechanical standpoint, mechanical bearing problems and lubrication issues can be detected using ultrasound testing. For example, if the bearing is not properly lubricated, the noise from the bearing will be picked up by ultrasound, giving you the opportunity to apply the correct amount of grease to the bearing.
Proactive maintenance goes a long way toward maximizing uptime, improving asset life, and achieving equipment reliability. LUDECA offers products related to all these maintenance technologies as well as training and services to help implement these technologies as part of a successful Condition-Based Monitoring program.