You regularly change your car’s oil. This inexpensive act of preventive maintenance keeps your engine running and saves you from having to buy a new replacement engine, which works out at about 20 percent of the cost of a new vehicle.
With your car, a little prevention can save thousands. With your electrical facility, preventive maintenance can save you millions.
It is a fact that poorly maintained switchboards are 62 percent more likely to fail. What’s more, experience indicates that equipment lasts longer and performs better with a preventive maintenance program. The total cost of ownership minimized when equipment upkeep is done at proper intervals, which for a typical installation means every 2 to 3 years.
Maintenance consists of a corrective component, the type of work done after something breaks, and a preventive part, which is work done before a breakdown. Corrective costs can be very high and can be brought down by preventive maintenance. But expenses rise with more prevention and eventually this increase amounts to more than the decrease in corrective costs. Thus, there is a sweet spot, a correct amount of maintenance that minimizes the overall total cost of ownership.
Finding this sweet spot can be challenging, often requiring adjustments in the frequency of maintenance. Usually this can be done by following one of three common preventive maintenance scheduling schemes, which are broken down as below:
Calendar-based – maintenance is done after a set interval of time. These recommendations are often defined by the manufacturer. This approach requires record-keeping and scheduling. Also, routine inspections must be carried out to establish whether a facility is working at an optimal level or not.
Predictive – relies on the actual condition of equipment, rather than the average life or expected life statistics, to predict when maintenance will be required.
Prescriptive – these schedules are devised by experts aided by machine learning software, again based on equipment data analysis and failure information.
Each of these maintenance scheduling methods requires data, and all are helped by a computerized approach. A calendar-method is the simplest and may be what an equipment maker, a panel builder or an electrical contractor calls for. However, a calendar, predictive- or prescriptive-based schedule may lead to a lower overall cost.
To see why, consider what happens if a calendar-based approach is strictly followed, and a facility shuts down for an extended time due to a holiday. Days with minimal activity and a largely idle panel count the same as busy ones. In this case, there may excessive and thus unnecessary maintenance, which means the total cost of maintenance will be higher than it needs to be.
Picking the right maintenance frequency and schedule can be tricky and there is no one correct answer. Fortunately, Schneider Electric has scalable solutions that address these different types of preventive maintenance schedules.
For time-based approaches, we offer EcoStruxure™ Facility Expert. With its Digital Logbook feature, facility managers can generate a maintenance plan for their critical electrical equipment, send reminders and track how much time has passed since the last maintenance. They can then arrange for work to meet the schedule, keeping in mind holidays, shutdowns and critical times when a panel or equipment cannot be taken offline.
For predictive scheduling, consider Facility Expert – Operations or EcoStruxure™ Power Monitoring Expert these solutions interpret real-time data to effectively manage maintenance. For a prescriptive based scheduling solution, consider EcoStruxure Advisor services. There are dedicated Schneider Electric experts in service centers who are on hand to provide support and service prescription interval recommendations.
As pointed out, performing maintenance before things go wrong, will minimize the cost of owning and operating an electrical facility. And that is well worth it, because, to paraphrase an old saying, “A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned”.
For more information about our EcoStruxure solutions, please visit our website.