Why you shouldn’t postpone planned preventive maintenance

Facility maintenance is a critical component in keeping warehouses, plants and other sites in good working order. Without a careful eye on equipment and building health, their effectiveness and capabilities can rapidly deteriorate.

To ensure discovery of emerging problems before they become significant roadblocks to productivity, facility managers should implement a planned preventive maintenance schedule. Sticking to the schedule can save companies money in costly repairs and replacements because it allows them to make small changes that prevent large equipment-related disasters.

However, cost-effectiveness isn’t the only benefit that a planned preventive maintenance schedule can bring. These schedules also make a facility a safer work environment.

Planned preventive maintenance detects dangerous problems early

The equipment in a warehouse becomes dangerous when it malfunctions or begins to break down unexpectedly.

In one tragic example, employees manning a paint drying oven in a manufacturing plant saw that the oven had suddenly turned off. The crew needed to relight the equipment quickly in order to minimize downtime, but they were unable to do so. After several unsuccessful tries, gas had built up inside the oven and a final attempt ignited the fumes in a deadly explosion. Sadly, the company soon realized that the incident could have been prevented, EHS Today reported. Other pieces of equipment had malfunctioned shortly before the oven fell into disrepair. Ideally, these should have prompted an investigation and preventative maintenance initiatives.

A preventive maintenance schedule could have opened the eyes of facility managers to the many small details that led to the bigger problem. Supervisors might have noticed many different problems, including improperly aligned valves, uncalibrated components, incorrect safety settings and certain aspects of the equipment that weren’t working at all.

Another example can be found in two incidents that occurred at a Statoil refinery in Norway, Reuters reported. In mid-October 2016, operators lost control of a Songa Endurance drilling rig operating on a well in the North Sea Troll field. Ten days later, the company’s Mongstad oil refinery experienced a hydrogen leak. Luckily, no one was hurt during either event, but Statoil said they could have been fatal. A corroded pipe socket that eventually broke caused the hydrogen leak, sending seawater nearly 100 feet up the derrick, which supports the oil rig, for about a minute. Had the situation gotten worse, the hydrogen could have ignited. The incidents occurred shortly after Statoil made budget cuts and laid off workers.

“This is not just about two isolated incidents, but it shows how cuts and reduction in competence and resources impacts health, environment, and safety in all areas,” said Haakon Aasen Bjerkeliveien, secretary for Industri Energi, Norway’s largest union of oil workers, according to Reuters.

It’s not just equipment that involves a flame that can become dangerous. Any asset that can deteriorate in small ways – like a bolt that’s beginning to rust or a band that’s beginning to fray – can, and likely will, lead to a dangerous asset failure. In many cases, it’s not always easy to predict the ways in which equipment will start to break down.

Cost cuts shouldn’t cut maintenance

When adjusting a budget, it is difficult to identify which areas can be downsized and which can’t. One area that should never be compromised is maintenance. Pushing off regular inspections and tune-ups can lead to dangerous and costly events later on.

When making cost cuts, one way to balance needed maintenance and a reduced budget is to seek assistance outside your organization through a company that offers centralized preventative maintenance solutions. Using this method, you can ensure your equipment gets the attention it needs from a trained expert. To bolster your maintenance program in your company, reach out to Miner. Our national network of service professionals can help you tackle maintenance challenges throughout your enterprise and across your many locations.