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Reliability systems bring big savings

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The introduction of reliability systems into petrochemical plants is transforming traditional operating and maintenance practices. Benefits gained by systems provided by SKF Australia have included large financial savings as well as the prevention of a catastrophic pump failure, detection of a coolant leak and a doubling of meantime between failures for critical process fans.

Operator Driven Reliability (ODR)

This is a company-wide, team-based process that optimizes the operation of an industrial production plant and augments classic operator duties. Operator Driven Reliability incorporates operational, technical, and financial metrics that are balanced to best meet the business plan of the industrial enterprise.

Because unscheduled downtime of assets is largely caused by early and random failures, these failures are best addressed by an Asset Efficiency Optimization (AEO) program.

As a pillar of AEO, Operator Driven Reliability brings plant operators into a position to assist in the asset management strategy. An ODR program leverages the unique position that operators hold in the plant, by increasing asset effectiveness and reducing unscheduled downtime.

ODR achieves this by providing strategic focus for operator responsibilities and duties and by ensuring all operator activities have technical, operational or financial basis.

The three main elements of ODR are Equipment Operating Procedures, Operator Involved Maintenance and Operator Performed Maintenance.

Equipment Operating Procedures originate from the design of the plant and the desired performance of the equipment. Plant operators are responsible for the management and optimization of these procedures.

Operator Involved Maintenance activities are meant to coordinate the operations department and the maintenance department. This includes activities such as work orders, equipment changeovers, permits, root cause analysis, and maintenance strategy reviews.

Operator Performed Maintenance activities, which are generally preventative in nature, use the operators' unique understanding of the machine to perform such tasks as inspection, cleaning, minor adjustments, and keeping a general watch on machine performance. By doing so, the operator will know when it is time to call a specialist.

SKF has extensive experience in successfully implementing ODR programs in a variety of industries. SKF provides the technology, processes, and skills needed to implement an ODR that is truly beneficial to the facility. Both individuals and management is key to the success (or failure) of an ODR program. Management change and a clear understanding of the benefits of an ODR program are necessary throughout the organization. SKF can provide guidance in understanding and addressing the cultural barriers that may exist in a plant and steer the facility through to a managed and successful implementation of an ODR program.

The benefits of ODR include providing a basis for operator duties, enabling duties to be tied to business objectives, formalising of compliance and reporting requirements, fostering operator ownership of assets, improving teamwork and communication, enhancing (or enacting) Total Productive Maintenance and Reliability Centered, maintenance philosophies, ensuring continuous improvement through an ODR program review, manageable program scope and implementation with impact, increasing asset performance, reliability and effectiveness and increasing revenue and profits.

One petrochemical plant that introduced the SKF ODR realised an immediate success with the early detection of failing bearings in a naptha pump motor. The motor would have run to failure if the operator hadn't detected the problem. The vibration department confirmed the problem and a spare pump and motor was prepared for installation. A catastrophic pump failure would have resulted in plant downtime and employee overtime with a total out-of-budget cost of $20,000.

At another petrochemical plant early life and random bearing failures were causing unscheduled downtime. After the introduction of SKF ODR a decrease in bearing temperature was detected. The temperature had dropped 15°F from normal. By having trend data readily available, the operator was able to identify a change and act. Instant inspection revealed a coolant leak that would have led to lost production.

The early detection and correction saved the plant $80,000.

Proactive Reliability Maintenance (PRM)

Proactive Reliability Maintenance(tm) is an asset efficiency process that enables continuous improvement of maintenance strategy and machine performance. Most traditional forms of predictive maintenance will form a sustained maintenance loop, whereas the SKF Proactive Reliability Maintenance (PRM) process forms a continuous improvement loop. The following four steps build one upon another to prevent repetitive failures or problems.

The first step is to design a Predictive Maintenance (PdM) system specifically for the plant, based on information provided by an SKF assessment which provides an understanding of the parameters that affect plant and equipment effectiveness. The PdM system includes activities such as, vibration analysis and bearing monitoring, Thermography and lubrication analysis. The PRM process may also highlight the need for additional activities during maintenance, such as geometric alignment, precision balancing, lubrication, filtration and sealing improvement.

SKF Reliability Systems engineers will diagnose the root cause of problems and determine corrective maintenance actions, such as machine realignment, changing the lubricant, or replacing a damaged component. Detailed machine diagnostics can be conducted on site, or at an SKF remote diagnostics facility using SKF Condition Monitoring. Physical analysis on the damaged components may also be required to determine the root cause of the failure. This information is used to prevent the same type of failure from recurring.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are performance improvement targets established jointly between SKF and the customer. They may cover a wide range of factors, from bearing performance to plant availability. Where possible, once a KPI is achieved, a new target is set to facilitate continuous improvement. Periodic review of the improvement program is important to monitor KPI achievement.

Results are documented and presented at performance review meetings. Operational review meetings are held to continually refine the PRM process to achieve the best balance of plant asset performance with the PRM process activity cost.

Implementation of a well-managed Proactive Reliability Maintenance process will ensure the best possible return on plant assets by managing potential risk. SKF Reliability Systems can guide a company in establishing its own PRM process-or design, implement and manage the process for the company.

This can apply to the entire plant or any area of it. A full management program will include all the hardware, software, and the technical resources needed to ensure measurable improvements.

At one petrochemical plant consistent fan failures in the process area resulted in a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) measured in months rather than years. The average repair cost for a fan was $7,500 and production downtime was estimated at $40,000 per hour.

Introducing the SKF fan PRM led to the doubling of the MTBF for the critical process fans. This gave increased plant productivity, and lower costs, with bottom line savings of $2,500,000.

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