When it comes to maintenance strategies, mechanical assets tend to receive more care than electrical control and distribution systems. Electrical systems can run for years without problems, making it tempting to focus on systems where wear and tear produce more frequent, and more noticeable, issues. Mechanical maintenance staff usually outnumber electrical system staff, whose electrical maintenance training is seen as less mission critical than staying up-to-date on advances in equipment technology.
The danger here is obvious. When preventative electrical maintenance lags behind mechanical, the risk of electrical system failure increases. And no matter how effective your equipment maintenance strategies, without electricity most facilities see their entire production line grind to a halt.
Reactive Electrical Maintenance
Like mechanical equipment, electrical systems benefit from preventative maintenance. Reactive responses to electrical problems results in longer down times, expensive repairs, and loss of productivity.
Signs of a reactive electrical maintenance strategy include:
- Electrical failures not recorded in CMMS
- Electrical maintenance supplies no readily available
- Electricians on staff not up-to-date on electrical maintenance training
- Few to no electrical planners on staff
- Little to no documentation of electrical maintenance tasks
- No standards for electrical schematics
- Technical information on electric systems not centrally located.
Towards a Proactive Electrical Maintenance Strategy
In contrast, a preventative electrical maintenance strategy protects both employees and electrical assets. Careful planning maximizes uptime, while improving energy efficiency and extending the service life of electrical distribution systems. Steps towards preventative electrical system maintenance include:
- Acknowledging the current system is flawed, but can be improved.
- Developing a vision for the future, including new hires, maintenance strategies, and electrical maintenance training.
- Understanding which equipment is mission critical, and creating regular maintenance schedules.
- Discussing the need for improvements with work team, who may raise issues or solutions that would otherwise go unnoticed.
- Documenting all processes and gathering data on which components could fail and what the effects of such failure could be. Report your findings to management and fight to get the management team on board with your efforts.
- Developing preventative maintenance inspection and tasks for all system components.
- Gathering all strategy documents, schematics, and manuals in a central location.
- Arranging electrical maintenance training for staff.
Building a preventative electrical maintenance strategy requires continuous effort. Planning and implementation is followed by checking the effectiveness of each new strategy, evaluating it for effectiveness, then returning to the planning stage and starting the cycle anew. Over the long term, the benefits far outweigh the effort.