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When evaluating the business gains and risks associated with an increasingly critical power infrastructure, decision makers often need to quantify the value of maintenance services, just as they would any major business purchase. A regularly-scheduled electrical system preventive maintenance program is intended to detect, repair, or replace affected electrical components, parts, or equipment before they lead to catastrophic damages, significant power interruptions, and loss of business functions. In fact, lack of routine preventive maintenance places a facility in a “run to failure” mode. IEEE Standard 902 cites that “a lack of maintenance eventually results in failures and a high cost to a plant.”
A comprehensive and routine preventive maintenance and testing program should incorporate all electrical power distribution equipment, regardless of the manufacturer, to ensure that all electrical equipment and components operate as originally designed and intended during their entire expected operational use life. The ultimate goal is to minimize equipment malfunction, power outages, or service interruptions to business operations or services. All studies of electrical maintenance programs show a direct correlation between levels of routine maintenance and the reliability of electrical equipment and the power distribution system.
Very few electrical maintenance or contracting companies can perform all of the required maintenance activities for an electrical distribution system. It is important that the maintenance protocol follow rigorous process steps as is defined by the leading maintenance standards bodies and the manufacturer. The selection of a qualified electrical maintenance contractor will ensure that the electrical distribution equipment is properly rated, set and labeled.
Quality reports should be an outcome of the maintenance, providing valuable information concerning the “present state” of an electrical power distribution system and its associated equipment, its functionality, and reliability relative to the present needs of a facility’s operations.
The risk to the facility operations by deferring maintenance should not be ignored. A multi-year stable fixed-rate maintenance agreement could be a helpful tool to streamline approval of the budget to carry-out ongoing maintenance activities. Qualifications of those performing the maintenance, of course, cannot be ignored. A quick assessment of what might be paid in ad hoc maintenance and emergency break/fix services fees often reveals some troubling results compared to the term of a fixed-rate maintenance agreement.