Maintenance and reliability for rotating equipment closing the loop

Maintenance of rotating equipment is a vast subject that could fill volumes.

Cezary Goch
RLG International

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Article Summary

Maintenance and reliability are intertwined, each essential for the success of the other. It’s crucial to recognise that these are distinct functions that mutually support one another.

The synergy between maintenance and reliability is pivotal for achieving favorable outcomes (Figure 1). During visits to various sites, it has been observed that many have small reliability departments comprising only 1-5 employees, often facing challenges.

There exists both a blue-collar and a white-collar aspect to reliability. Mature organisations incorporate both, whereas emerging organisations may have only one or neither. Reliability holds a unique position in the maintenance realm, involving technicians collecting and analysing data, engineers collaborating with maintenance, operations, and capital projects teams, and individuals striving to achieve over 95% equipment availability. A recent visit to a client in North America revealed an exceptional reliability department boasting 30 personnel and possessing a comprehensive setup:
· A functioning bad actors committee
· Operator rounds analysts
· Asset coordinators
· Vibration analysis team
· Rotating equipment engineers
· Electrical and instrument engineers
· Mechanical shop coordinators
· A plethora of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor.

Despite this robust setup and acknowledgment of the department’s importance, they still grapple with similar challenges seen elsewhere, specifically, issues with closing the loops.

Typically, all the necessary components are in place: correct processes, forms, and an understanding within maintenance of what needs to be done. However, in this case:
· 19% of Work Orders (WOs) lack failure codes
· 21% of all WOs have incorrect failure codes
· On top of that about 20% of asset tags were incorrect.

This significantly complicates equipment analysis. Achieving an ideal split between preventive maintenance orders (60%) and corrective (40%) requires a deep understanding of this data (Figure 2).  Additionally, the effectiveness of preventive maintenance (PM) must be assessed.

While technicians leave notes after each PM, these are seldom scrutinised or analysed, leading to PMs being performed too frequently or not often enough. Moreover, changes in PM methodology are rarely considered unless prompted by a bad actor. Across the industry, a lack, or poor quality, of some important definitions like what consists of bad actors is noticeable.

To address these issues effectively, the following steps are proposed:
υ Establish an ongoing, routine process for reviewing all aspects of PMs, including frequency, accuracy, and necessity.
ϖ Analyse results and adjust predictive maintenace (PdM) routes based on equipment performance history and findings.
ω Enhance opportunities for reliability engineers to prioritise reliability work orders with maintenance teams.
ξ Increase PM program visibility by generating monthly reports on PM findings and recommended actions by area.
ψ Encourage feedback on forms by recognising and sharing findings, engaging workers in teams to tackle major obstacles.
ζ Evaluate the operations driven reliability program for potential enhancements or adjustments.
{ Expand the use of remote monitoring for critical equipment checks.
| Designing a program to ensure everyone on-site understands their responsibilities and behaviors necessary to contribute to the refinery’s reliability, just as they do with safety, is paramount.

The relationship and trust between Operations (OPS) and maintenance/reliability often experience strain. Consequently, cooperation between these departments frequently suffers from poor communication and collaboration. There are often doubts about whether unit operators can genuinely contribute to maintenance and reliability efforts. However, OPS has the potential to contribute significantly, making it imperative to strive for alignment.

At a BP plant in California, OPS successfully managed a model lube oil program. Similarly, at TNK-BP in Russia, operators excelled in identifying potential problems, participating in planned preventive maintenance (PM), and effectively communicating issues to maintenance, demonstrating an almost perfect process. Conversely, in other instances, OPS has been relegated to the traditional role of merely writing tickets.

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