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Plant Maintenance: Deciding if Components should be Inspected or Not?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone says: “we don’t have time to inspect this equipment; there are just not enough people in our plant maintenance department”, or perhaps: “Why would we start inspecting the equipment now, it’s never been done before."

You feel in your gut that the equipment should be inspected, but how do you present a compelling argument for your plant maintenance organization? Here is a simple analysis of the situation IDCON uses.

First, there are only three ways of maintaining any component in your plant, they are:

1. Operate To Break-Down (OTB)
2. Fixed Time Maintenance (FTM)
3. Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) – Some call this inspection.

Therefore, if an inspection is skipped, we end up with either changing out the equipment on a set frequency (FTM), or operating the equipment until it breaks down (OTB). Now, OTB and FTM will be more cost effective in some cases, but not very often because:

1. We don’t know the life of most components in order to apply FTM.
2. OTB is usually more expensive than FTM and Condition Based Maintenance (But not always)

To make a long story short, next time someone decide to skip an inspection or not to add an inspection, ask if that component should be operated to Break-Down, or if Fixed Time Maintenance should be used, and if so, on what frequency.

There are instances where it is not obvious which Maintenance method is most cost effective. A financial estimate should be performed in these instances. A three page description of the simple calculation is outlines in chapter two of our Preventive Maintenance Manual.

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