The swift reaction of a PEME on-site maintenance team, to a critical asset failure, avoided production loss and a follow-up reliability investigation ensured the root cause of the failure was found and a permanent solution put in-place.
This incident demonstrates the value of PEME’s holistic approach to Reliability Maintenance services. The Plant Operations Manager passed the following message to the PEME engineers involved; “Please can I thank your team for the great support we were given yesterday. To determine, acquire and change the motor gearbox and have the plant up and running in the time taken was excellent service. I also note the old unit was removed from my plant and the area left safe and tidy”.
- A run fault alarm was activated on a cleaning process elevator gearbox which feeds the second stage.
- The cleaning plant was unable to transfer product to downstream business units until it was rectified.
- A 10-hour window exists where buffer stock can be used to supply the downstream business units but after that time significant production loss is suffered (squeaky bum time).
- PEME received a reactive maintenance request and an initial investigation suspected it was a mechanical fault as the motor was starting momentarily.
- Fault diagnosis identified that the gearbox drive shaft had sheared, so the gearbox was replaced and the cleaning plant returned to operations. This work was conducted by Neil Martin who is shown in the picture. Neil knew he had resolved the immediate problem but could not determine what had caused the shaft to shear, so he initiated a full Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to be carried out by the PEME Reliability department.
- The subsequent RCA identified that this was the second failure in an 18 month period and the root cause was fatigue failure due to the way the asset had been operated, under immediate load on start-up, over an extended period.
- Consideration was given to improvements to the Preventive Maintenance Task Lists and the PEME Continuous Monitoring regime but no truly effective changes could be identified in this case.
- A Continuous Improvement (CI) modification was recommended to install an inverter to reduce the load on start-up and therefore, prevent future failures.
- Plant operational again without any detriment to downstream production.
- PEME on-site maintenance team recognises the need for fuller follow-up investigation and has access to the PEME in-house Reliability department who provide specialist support at no extra cost to the client.
- RCA identified a permanent solution that once implemented will prevent re-occurrence.