Electrical distribution equipment maintenance is crucial to safe, cost-effective operations.
There are five major benefits to properly maintaining equipment:
- Protect personnel, assets, and your business
- Maximize uptime through preventive maintenance
- Improve energy efficiency
- Improve spare parts management by moving from a reactive to a preventive approach to reduce faults in complex systems
- Keep electrical distribution equipment operational, extend its useful service life, and minimize emergency downtime, for an overall reduced total cost of ownership
Let’s take a closer look at the four strategies that can accomplish this.
Reactive maintenance is the most straightforward of these four approaches – equipment is allowed to operate until it fails (without performing planned or preventive maintenance) and then it is restored either to its original condition or permitted to perform its function for a limited time until a repair can be carried out.
Two advantages to this strategy are that it is straightforward and involves minimal planning. It is only applicable to non-critical assets that do not pose risks to safety or the reliable operation of the network.
This strategy depends upon planned maintenance through regular inspections, equipment maintenance, and part replacement in electrical distribution equipment. It is designed to minimize breakdowns, extend equipment life, and prevent unplanned activity. Preventive maintenance is scheduled, so it minimizes its impact on operations and is carried out depending on one or more of the following: a fixed time schedule, operational statistics, manufacturer/industry best practice recommendations, or the number of units in use, without any previous equipment investigation.
The preventive approach can be broken into three categories of maintenance activity based on complexity: basic, advanced, or exclusive depending on factors such as who is permitted to conduct the services (e.g., the equipment manufacturer, certified partners, or trained personnel) and what the activity is (e.g., examining the equipment’s visual state or cleaning/checking/greasing the operating mechanism).
It’s a good approach for assets where the likelihood of failure increases with either time or use or it has a known failure that can be prevented with regular maintenance.
On-site condition maintenance
This is a diagnostic-based, preventive strategy. It includes preventive maintenance, but in addition uses on-site diagnostic interventions, when available, to assess the physical condition of the asset and how it is operating. This is effective for situations in which a measurable parameter is a reliable gauge of imminent problems.
On-site diagnostic interventions, depending of the criticality of the equipment in the process, will determine several types of recommendations: correct the detected drift, anticipate future interventions, or revisit stocks of genuine parts. Conducted on a regular basis, it can be considered the entry level of condition-based maintenance.
This is also known condition-based maintenance, is the capstone of a fully integrated maintenance program in any utility asset management strategy. It minimizes unscheduled downtime, which reduces the overall cost and ensures a reliable, smoothly running power distribution infrastructure.
It does this in several ways. It allows for better management of resources and spare parts and detects equipment degradation by continuously monitoring equipment’s performance using sensor data and prediction engines that provide early warnings of problems and failures. It is appropriate for situations in which a potential equipment failure could cause significant damage, unplanned downtime, safety issues, or unnecessary expenditures.
Predictive asset analytics, advanced IT platforms, and other technology play an important role in predictive maintenance because they provide real-time insights into performance and equipment health. Analytics are an integral piece of a comprehensive maintenance program because they can use each piece of equipment’s historical operational signature and compare it to real-time operating data, allowing the identification of slight changes in equipment behavior long before the deviating variables reach alarm level.
Plant managers should select the strategy that is most appropriate for their specific equipment maintenance situation to get the most out of their resources.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of electrical distribution maintenance and other factors to consider when designing your maintenance program, such as intervention frequency and environmental conditions, read the white paper Electrical distribution maintenance fundamentals and learn more about our smart panels offer.