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Maintenance is the practice of protecting or restoring equipment in order to maintain function and integrity. As a critical component of an asset integrity management (AIM) program, maintenance engineers and technicians dedicate time to developing and implementing maintenance strategies that optimize production and use cost-effective maintenance techniques.

Typical maintenance techniques include cleaning, inspection, lubrication, testing, replacing, and/or repairing components. Furthermore, the responsibilities of a maintenance engineer may be predictive or preventive. The fundamental difference between predictive and preventive maintenance is that predictive maintenance is a continuous process based on the current condition of equipment whereas preventive maintenance is performed in scheduled intervals based on the age and remaining life of a piece of equipment.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance depends on the probability of failure and the consequences of a potential failure. The frequency of inspection and maintenance is based on the probability and consequences of failure.

Typically, preventive maintenance is planned and requires engineers and technicians to review past and current inspection and maintenance data in order to predict damage that may result in failure. The purpose is to eliminate unnecessary inspection and repair tasks and reduce maintenance costs. Examples of preventive maintenance may include simple tasks such as cleaning, tightening bolts, changing oil, or lubricating equipment or added parts such as filters to separate dirt and other impurities from contaminating products.

Predictive Maintenance

The purpose of predictive maintenance is to prevent unscheduled shutdowns by predicting damage and failures before they occur. This can be done through inspection methods or utilizing sensors to collect data and measure the current condition of equipment during operation. For this reason, predictive maintenance is sometimes called condition-based monitoring. Although installing predictive maintenance measures can be costly, the result of such an investment shows an overall reduction in maintenance costs and facility downtime.

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is performed on equipment in order to restore a failing piece of equipment back to its operating conditions. Here, it’s important that if maintenance technicians need to replace a component, that they follow specifications and if possible, replace components with original equipment manufacturers. Example of corrective maintenance repairs include welding, sealing, adjusting fixtures, etc.

Reliability Centered Maintenance

Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is a framework that ensures that preventive, predictive, and corrective maintenance tasks are practiced in an efficient, reliable, and safe manner. The benefits of a well organized RCM framework include maintaining the integrity of components, extending the life of equipment, and eliminating unplanned shutdowns.

RCM programs are unique to every company. However, there are several critical factors to consider.

  • Maintenance programs should follow a cradle-to-grave approach and evolve as the facility incorporates new equipment and decommissions aging infrastructure.
  • It’s also important to document all equipment, data, procedures, and facility objectives. All maintenance procedures should be documented in a detailed manner so that successive tasks can be performed efficiently.
  • Establishing clear objectives also helps engineers and inspectors align their decisions to meet facility goals.

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