Industrial servicing reaches new levels of accountability
By Chris Williams, Industrial Service Manager, Flender UK...
Predictive maintenance has become an essential weapon in the armoury of industrial processes and manufacturing by helping avoid breakdowns and plant failures as well as enabling scheduled maintenance through forward planning.
Flender, a Siemens company, has seen huge growth in condition monitoring and products and servicing including spares. It works with many companies taking up the benefits of condition monitoring, enabling them to have more information than ever on how their equipment and plants are performing. When combined with service contracts to ensure 24/7 support along with regular maintenance and other site support, it is proving highly valuable to them.
In industry areas like aggregates, one component failure can create unexpected halts in production equating to losses of thousands of pounds per hour. These severely impact the bottom line, so monitoring essential items of equipment makes financial sense. But getting started is a concern to some as it requires the right supplier, one providing the highest servicing standards along with quality procedures and valuable on-site advice about the best choices to make. The industries many of these companies exist in can be fast-moving and need flexibility as well as reliable options. Existing equipment is often from various manufacturers, so finding a supplier capable of carrying out monitoring and full multi-brand servicing is important.
With the general growth in monitoring many smaller operators have sprung up, and although they may identify potential faults, such as excessive vibration on a gear unit, they are often unable to carry out repairs. This is where there is no substitute for knowledge and experience, and where Flender service engineers provide immediate and valuable support on site to minimise downtime, also being able to service other manufacturers’ units to the highest standards using genuine parts and high quality components. It does not matter at which point on the monitoring journey a company is; help is available every step of the way.
For example, by attending sites to inspect and service equipment, these service engineers can identify potential problems and discuss a range of solutions to maintain plants at peak performance as well as build in ongoing flexibility for the expansion and contraction of operating processes. Refurbishment and retrofitting can also be carried out; quite often Flender engineers are called out subsequent to looking at one aspect of a site – which may just be routine maintenance – to look at and advise on other areas of a site’s production or manufacturing. The key is to take a holistic approach to every site and help the customer maximise the efficiency of all their processes and the performance of their equipment. Specialist engineers often get asked to help develop what they have initially advised on as customers start to see the real benefits of this type of approach in maintaining uptime and being able to plan ahead.
The human element of the service complements the growth of automated condition monitoring systems, with experienced engineers able to see well beyond simple monitoring. Bespoke customer reports along with energy saving solutions and record keeping are another trend Flender is seeing at companies keen to maximise their existing and future potential.
There are many options for machinery operators to take, from online to offline monitoring through regular site visits with hand-held monitoring units where integrating with the customers’ existing systems may be difficult, or where for example extra cabling could be an issue.
Condition monitoring benefits are already appreciated across industry: with better plant availability, the early detection of gear unit failures, the ability to forward plan scheduled maintenance and a reduction in maintenance costs, significant savings can be made.
UK examples range from cement works to cooling towers, materials handling to wind turbines and it is vital that support teams provide round-the-clock multi-brand repair and maintenance. Ironically, most breakdowns seem to occur on a Friday afternoon, but units such as the Flender DX500 monitoring system can be fitted to any gear unit, and provide advance warning of a potential issue.