Electricity + Control March 2019



FEATURES: · Drives,motors+ switchgear · Energymanagement+ environmental engineering · Hazardous areas+ safety · Industry 4.0+ Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) · Plantmaintenance, test+measurement · Temperaturemeasurement

Maintenance cannot be ignored

I f it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One so often hears this charming mantra. And I get it, OK! If systems are working, and things are fine, why rattle the cages? My concern is that I very often encoun- ter this catch phrase being used where it has no place at all ... in the context of a system that must not be allowed to break. And that, of course, is the problem: Sure, it ain’t broke right now – but if you do leave it alone it sure as heck will be ‘broke’ some time in the future. And oh my, will it be broken! Ensuring we avoid this takes a planned process. So there is surely no need to make any comment about maintenance, is there? I have no doubt that readers of Electricity+Control plan and manage their maintenance schemes carefully and pro- ficiently. I do worry, however, that maintenance is one of the first things to suffer on so many of our plants – some seemingly more visible (and in the public eye) than others. And, as you have no doubt realised, I mean that it is during those moments when times become a bit tough. One sure-fire way to protect the bottom line is to stop the spending. And, very of- ten, stable systems give the impression that we should not meddle with that which is working. We all use the ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’ mantra, time and time again. Stable systems lull the powers that be into complacency. The argument is easily made that, surely, we can cut down on maintenance spend. But here is the problem: as soon as routine maintenance is reduced, unex- pected and unscheduled events begin to creep in. And then the trouble starts.

How often have you encountered a situation where, because the system is now beginning to behave badly, short-cuts and work-arounds begin to be found? And people do these things because, in their minds, they are necessary to ensure that productivity is unaffected. There is something disturbing in how we drive productivity – and how we re- ward productivity. Many people I fear are motivated more by keeping the lights on (shall we say), than recognising when we are actually damaging the system – and then stopping the plant. You can run the engine with little or no oil – in fact for a fairly lengthy period of time – but there will come that moment when it says ‘no more’. Maintenance, of course, is the subtle art of never getting to the point where you need to stop the plant unexpectedly. The requirement is to plan and manage main- tenance and refurbishment so there are no surprises. This is not rocket science: it is a well documented, tried and tested method of preserving your critical assets and keep- ing them functioning at their best. I must say, that as I look about the in- dustrial landscape of late, I have a niggling feeling that, just perhaps, we may have dropped a ball or two in this regard. Maybe I am wrong, but let the lesson be that none of us allows that to happen in our own spheres of influence.

EC_Mar 2019 cover.indd 1 2/26/2019 8:20:29AM www.electricityandcontrolmagazine.co.za

Schneider Electric 's Easergy P3 is described as the latest innovation in medium-voltage protection relay ... (Read more on page 15).

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