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Asset maintenance – find your trusted advisor

By Suren Naidoo, Field Services VP Anglophone at Schneider Electric

Investing in industrial equipment should go together with after-sales maintenance, service, and repair.  One can go as far as saying it’s non-negotiable as no business can realistically afford downtime or worst yet, complete, and catastrophic failure of equipment.

Which brings us to choosing the right partner for the job.  Your asset maintenance partner should be reputable, knowledgeable and understand your environment and the equipment that run it.

Investing in the right partner, backed by a robust maintenance programme must form part of business operations and resultant OPEX expenditure.  Not only do these programmes run systems efficiently and maximise equipment expectancy, but it also plays a fundamental role in mitigating downtime and system failure.

Let’s start at the very beginning

The saying “It's a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make things simple” couldn’t be more apt when choosing an asset maintenance partner.  In a nutshell, these are five attributes an organisation should look for choosing a partner:

  1. Expertise of the maintenance personnel.
  2. Quality assurance.
  3. Onsite response time.
  4. Remote monitoring capability.
  5. Comprehensive onsite inspection.

Human error can often lead to operations issues which is why it’s so important to ensure the service personnel are bona fide experts.  Your asset maintenance partner should feature a pool of system specialist who receive ongoing training which includes safety protocols and are certified by regulatory bodies such as OSHA and EPA.

The service and maintenance team must have access to the necessary vendor tools and software that allow for system diagnostics and newest field service bulletins, created by the system vendors, that alert them to trending issues.

Also, access to international support that feature technical experts from various regions as well as global case studies will provide valuable insight into particular challenges organisations might face.

Quality assurance and response time

An asset maintenance service provider should have well-documented and well-established processes and procedures.  Here, standard operations procedures (SOPs) and methods of procedures (MOPs) plus change management processes are critical tick box requirements.

Furthermore, a partner should document their training programmes and records of trained personnel. This will enable you validate whether the support and service team is in fact qualified.

In the event of a system error, ensure that the service partner can get on-site in time to meet the environment’s requirements and downtime window (if any). Getting the system back up and running as quickly as possible will depend on the technician’s effective diagnosis and the repair with the correct spare parts.

This reconfirms the importance of the having a team of experts which can get the system up and running within the shortest timeframe backed by the OEM replacement equipment and procedures.

Remote monitoring and onsite inspection

Both remote monitoring and onsite inspection play an all-important role in preventive maintenance.  Remote connectivity for example allows for quicker diagnostics of problems, which can be addressed without having to send a technician to visit the site

However, onsite visits are extremely important and can provide the following benefits:

  • A visual inspection will in a non-invasive way identify potential problems like dust or debris on a condenser, dirty condenser coils, bloated or leaky batteries, etc.
  • An environmental inspection will allow the specialist to assess how a system can be impacted by humidity, air, and water quality. This all can have a direct impact on the function and life of the system.

Lastly, technologies such as data analytics and AI now play a vital role in asset maintenance and repair.  The more connected and smarter services become, the more your service provider will become an invaluable and trusted advisor.

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