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Maintenance across borders

29 October 2018

Planning the ongoing maintenance of a project is important, particularly when working on overseas projects where the management of the facility is handed over to a local team

According to American consultant Edwin K Jones, writing in the US magazine Efficient Plant, a badly maintained 10-year-old plant can cost more to maintain than a properly maintained 25-year-old facility. So, developing a comprehensive maintenance plan can help save both time and money. It is essential for the plant’s construction team to ensure that maintenance is considered as a significant element of the project from the outset.

Whether that is providing familiarisation training for on-site staff to learn how to use, maintain and install replacement parts, or by simply offering user manuals, the more information on-site teams have the more likely they can keep everything running smoothly. This can keep maintenance needs at the forefront of the plant management team’s attention when they begin work. On-site teams also should receive both physical and digital copies of equipment manuals to have on hand should any equipment need emergency upkeep.

Remote support

Many providers offer wireless transmitters for key components. These then connect to both the plant’s own monitoring system as well as the supplier’s trackers to remotely supervise the system.

Being aware not only from the beginning of the project, but also reminded of the need for regular maintenance and replacement through remote monitoring can help in-country management teams predict maintenance needs before components unexpectedly break.

remote monitoring can help in-country management teams predict maintenance needs before components unexpectedly break

Key elements like generators and switchgears can be assessed from across the globe for cost and energy saving opportunities. This can be key for some specific parts, which have much shorter lifespans due to climate and the level in which the plant is operating.

Switchgear is typically tested to EU standards, where circuit breakers are designed to able to meet 10,000 operations. As climate and altitude conditions vary from country to country, it is impossible to test equipment for all eventualities. Working in extreme conditions can greatly impact the operational life expectancy of equipment.

Efficiency ideas

Travelling across the globe just to change a switch is not only costly but also wastes a lot of downtime in the facility. However, should in-country teams request maintenance assistance, this provides an ideal opportunity to scope out the entire plant and offer suggestions or efficiency ideas for future preservation and will cement the ongoing relationship, which may bring new business opportunities too.

Based on information supplied by Dave Friar, international operations director at Boulting, a company which provides a wide scope of project services including commissioning and ongoing maintenance services.