When it comes to preventative maintenance for industrial rectifiers, there are three levels that we most often see. By understanding these three levels of preventative maintenance and determining what category you fall into, you can begin thinking about how you can adopt new a higher-tiered strategy to save money and become more active rather than reactive.
Level I: Reactive Maintenance
The reactive form of preventive maintenance is akin to going in for an oil change every 3000 miles. You do it because that’s what you’re told to do. You don’t perform any checks or maintenance on your vehicle other than changing whatever the manufacturer tells you to change.
The reactive maintenance approach basically involves taking action only when a problem has arisen. “When your equipment is down and there’s flames and smoke and downtime, you call us to fix it,” says Dynapower’s Repairs Supervisor Remington Schieffer.
So, in this case, it is typically downtime itself that is the actual trigger of maintenance actions. This isn’t a bad approach if you’ve got the extra time and it doesn’t hurt you from progressing as a business but it’s also incredibly rare to be this kind of customer. Most customers need as much uptime as they can possible muster–which is where the next two levels of preventive maintenance come in.
Level II: Preventive Maintenance
Most customers–roughly 80 percent of them–fall into our second level of power systems maintenance, which we call preventive maintenance. This is akin to changing a part every two years and seven months (a length of time you decided on) because you know that it breaks every three years (a length of time you observed).
For instance, you know the bulbs in your shop will run for a certain amount of time, so you make a note to change them before that time runs out. In order to be prepared for unplanned breakdowns in between, you have accumulated a fair number of spare parts – some you may never need. Depending on the spare parts, they may have a shelf life, and they may not be good when you go to use them. You will have to manage critical spare parts blind and stay on the conservative end of parts if you want to be prepared.
“This is what everybody feels like is the pinnacle of maintenance work,” Schieffer says. “Because few people understand the equipment well enough to go to the next step.”
As you can see, basic preventive maintenance is primarily based on time and anticipating failures and updates based on manufacturer recommendations. Typically, electrical maintenance personnel will be the ones carrying out this work. Or, in some cases, a younger generation of workers are taking over and unsure of what to do with that “big hunk of metal in the corner of the shop.”
Level III: Predictive Maintenance
Although less common than preventive maintenance, Level III is a much more comprehensive and cost-saving approach when stretched out over the lifetime of your equipment. The downside is the initial investment into the program. This approach involves having a highly skilled worker either in-house or from outside your facility to make determinations for your equipment based on actual data analysis.
“You can test every component inside the rectifier for its performance based on its engineering criteria,” says Schieffer.
This can include diode testing, circuit board testing, transformer measurements and much, much more. Basically, you want to be sure that if you’re supplying a certain amount of energy into your unit, that you are getting the right amount back out.
“In such a case, we would take the time analyze and test the critical control points of your process to create objective evidence on where in the arc of the life cycle each component of your rectifier is in. We are letting data drive decisions on working equipment to predict and show the customer where their problems lie,” Schieffer points out.
Most customers who are reading this–such as our metal finishing customers–are already used to testing their chemistry every day. This includes measurements around conductivity, pH, total dissolved solids, viscosity, specific gravity, and total vs free acidity. This new level of predictive maintenance is very similar.
“It’s interesting to see customers taking the testing of their chemistry so seriously but taking minimal testing of their electrical process,” Schieffer says.
For instance, if the rectifier doesn’t spit out the right amount of electricity now you have a critical point of your process that’s out of your control. Level III is all about dialing in your machines, so you are achieving the maximum lifetime value out of them and your process–giving you the highest process efficiency and most importantly, the greatest product possible.
“If you’re anybody servicing high precision industries such aerospace, automotive, or military, this is the type of reporting and process control your end customer requires.” Schieffer says.
As a bonus to this style of maintenance, spare parts are not such a burden on your equipment. You can order spare parts slightly ahead of needing them to keep cash in your business, and you need less critical spare parts in your inventory. You may only need long lead time parts in your possession or negotiate your parts provider to stock them for you.
Dynapower can accommodate any of these particular approaches. Please contact us at (802) 860-7200 to help decide which approach is right for you!