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A proactive approach to equipment servicing can pay huge

dividends in process plants

automation, it is important for tests to be carried out on gauges, monitoring sensors and control devices to ensure that they are all operating accurately. Current feeds will also be tested to ensure that they

are maintaining the correct safe levels, and cabling and trunking also needs to be inspected to make sure it is intact. However, a lack of sufficient in-house maintenance

resources coupled with the lack of necessary skills and experience can often be a barrier to improving service and maintenance activity for industrial process plants. Acquiring the necessary regulatory knowledge, mechanical, electronic and IT skills may need regular investments in employee training or, alternatively, the outsourcing of service and maintenance contract to a specialist company. There are different levels of service and maintenance

outsourcing support available in the market. As a leader in the supply of metal surface treatment process plant, NHE offers a holistic approach in the form of a tiered structure suited to different requirements. A premium plus programme would be tailored towards manufacturers with critical operations, when downtime is not an option. This includes all aspects of service and maintenance including guaranteed emergency breakdown support, consignment stock for critical spares and remote, condition-based diagnostics where applicable. The premium level is suited to manufacturers that

require the additional security of emergency cover. This maintenance programme has been designed to ensure the minimal possible downtime and includes recommended spares lists and the option of consignment stock for critical spares.

There is also a basic level of maintenance support

available to companies, which is designed to provide an annual plant service and ensure correct operation and calibration, while at the same time checking the plant for wear and tear. Prior to an external evaluation, there are also a

range of checks that plant managers can carry out themselves to maintain the general upkeep of their facilities through inspection of condition and cleanliness of equipment. Additionally, they should be following operation and maintenance instructions that are provided with the plant itself. All critical plant assets should be regularly serviced

and maintained to improve manufacturing performance and avoid unplanned downtime and unnecessary maintenance activity and costs. A wide range of industries are already benefiting from taking a proactive approach to the maintenance and servicing of plant due to the OEE benefits and reduction in costly unplanned downtime as well as adhering to the increasingly stringent regulatory compliance requirements that put pressure on manufacturers. The truth is, most manufacturing facilities would benefit from a well-executed, planned maintenance programme and, where they are operating critical, complex or high capacity process plant, they could find this strategy is enhanced by outsourcing critical service and maintenance activity to a specialist supplier. For typically less than a few per cent of the capital cost of process plant investment, the business case for preventative maintenance services should be easy to make. n

Mike Priddle is managing director at NHE. 25

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