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Enjoying the benefits of planned maintenance

Published:  25 October, 2008

maintenance
Planned maintenance ensures minimal disruption to business activities cause by system breakdown.

Reduced cost, reduced risk and compliance with legislation are just some of the benefits of planned maintenance — as Greg Markham explains.

The benefits to an organisation of using a planned maintenance programme can be easily explained by using a car maintenance analogy. Planned maintenance is like getting your car serviced every 10 000 miles to ensure it’s working optimally and is less likely to malfunction. Reactive maintenance, on the other hand, is like not getting regular services and then calling out the AA when your poor old car breaks down.

According to the Institute of Asset Management, a good planned maintenance programme will ‘ensure that a company’s assets deliver their required function and level of performance in a sustainable manner at an optimum whole life cost’. It will also minimise any reactive maintenance activities as properly maintained assets are much less likely to break down or fail.

Planned-maintenance clients can be assured of maintaining statutory compliance standards to meet their legal requirements. They will also ensure minimal disruption to their business activities caused by system breakdowns. By using an external provider whose core business is planned maintenance, the client gets the benefits of new technologies, techniques and systems, allowing them to focus on their own business. They will also reap the benefits of lower costs, reduced risk and improved service standards, while protecting the value of their property assets.

Planned maintenance contracts can be calendar-based or hours-run based. They involve a programmed schedule to check on the condition of assets, ensuring they are working optimally and not about to fail. All organisations have a legal obligation to carry out a certain amount of planned maintenance activities, including insurance inspections and life-safety systems such as fire alarms, extinguisher systems, emergency lighting and so on.

Carillion Planned Maintenance for example, the building maintenance and facilities services arm of Carillion Plc, provides a full range of planned maintenance services, complemented by reactive maintenance activities in accordance with clients’ service level agreements. We also invest heavily in whole-life costing so that when an asset needs replacing we can do it cost effectively, by ensuring the most energy-efficient replacement is found and disposing of the old asset sustainably, re-using and recycling where possible.

We use some interesting predictive maintenance techniques such as thermal imaging and vibration analysis, which provide ways of examining equipment without needing to take it out of commission.

Thermal imaging is used to see if there are any hot spots, and vibration analysis can predict potential equipment failures before they occur. We are now implementing the next phase of this type of predictive maintenance using ultrasonic analysis, where the noise (which lies outside the normal human hearing range) emitted from components can be analysed and used to diagnose early signs of electrical or mechanical failure. All these techniques are used to detect the early stages of potential malfunction, allowing equipment to be fixed before it fails.

Maintenance contracts are delivered to all types of organisation, from single commercial offices to the critical asset management of financial-services data centres. Depending on the size of the contract, we can provide mobile teams to look after small diverse sites, such as shops or banks, or we can provide an on-site static team working either Monday to Friday, split-shifts or 24/7, depending on the client’s needs.

imaging
Sophisticated techniques such as thermal imaging can show ‘hot spots’ of potential failure that are not otherwise visible to the naked eye.

In recent years Carillion has introduced the use of PDAs for its engineers, to enable more efficient work planning and scheduling. They obviate the need for paper-based work requests and also mean we can give our clients a more accurate time of arrival. As service level agreements (SLAs) become increasingly challenging, the use of mobile technology has allowed us to focus on the response our clients require.

The type of contract and the requirements of the SLA need to be tailored to the facility being maintained. For example, if a data centre of a large financial institution goes down even for less than a minute, potentially millions of pounds can be lost.

Planned maintenance can also help our clients’ sustainability credentials, because correctly maintained equipment minimises energy use and optimises its life-cycle.

Carillion is a market leader in sustainability, and our knowledge and experience in this area can help clients achieve their environmental objectives. As an example, we recently helped the Royal Courts of Justice achieve an energy-efficiency accreditation from the Carbon Trust. This award is the first of its kind within Her Majesty’s Court Services and a great recognition that the Royal Courts are being managed and operated to optimum energy performance.

Any organisation that relies on its assets or infrastructure to provide continuous service will be particularly suited to using planned maintenance services. Most organisations now operate a planned maintenance programme. Some do it in-house, but most outsource at least some of it to the experts, allowing them to focus on their core business. Planned maintenance is all about helping organisations maintain their brand reputation and ensuring their uninterrupted business continuity.

Greg Markham is Carillion Planned Maintenance’s chief engineer.



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