'Tis the season to get planning — for a festive season shutdown
Meeting production requirements can often make it tough to schedule downtime for essential compressed air system maintenance. Following the OEM’s prescribed maintenance schedule is essential, however, to ensure that a compressed air system continues to reliably produce high-quality compressed air. Failure to do so could lead to costly and unplanned downtime as well as premature wear of components and consumables. And, together, this could also have a negative impact on the expected life of the compressed air equipment.
However, even if the prescribed maintenance schedule is followed, there will, of course, be larger maintenance jobs that need to be completed which take longer to do. The festive season often presents the ideal time.
The festive season is one of the longest periods of time in the year when most manufacturers will shut down. Usually between Christmas and New Year, this period presents the perfect opportunity to schedule in larger maintenance tasks.
Some common compressed air system maintenance tasks that require a longer shutdown period include: replacing motor bearings, removing and cleaning coolers as well as oil/water separator cleaning and replacement.
As the festive period falls towards the beginning of summer, the shutdown period is also the ideal time to perform a number of routine maintenance tasks which will ensure the system is ready for the hot weather ahead.
Hot weather can put a lot of stress on a compressed air system, and as the temperature starts to rise so can a number of maintenance issues. Maintenance tasks such as changing the oil and the inlet filter or checking the fluid system, belts and couplings are just a few that are beneficial to undertake at the start of summer in order to prepare the system for the hotter months.
Keeping coolers clean is actually one of the most important things that can be done during the summer months. Dirty coolers can cause a number of problems, not least of which is contributing to the compressor running hot. Elevated running temperatures increase oil carry-over from the compressor, which will eventually lead to a low oil level and ultimately a compressor shutdown. Depending on the state of the coolers, high-pressure cleaning or ultrasonic cleaning may be advised. Again, an extended shutdown period presents the ideal time to have the coolers cleaned.
The festive shutdown period could also be used to implement any system upgrades or improvements that have been considered. Some examples may be getting on top of compressed air leak detection and repairs to installing new line filtration, if required, to improve air quality.
It could also be the perfect opportunity to install a bypass line if one isn’t already installed. A bypass line allows the compressed air user to be able to continue to transport compressed air through the system while (for example) line filtration is maintained. However, a bypass line can often be overlooked when a compressed air system is installed. Installing a bypass line would therefore mean that any future work required on line filtration will not have to wait until longer shutdown periods.
The key to success
Maintenance planning is the key to success. Consulting a compressed air service provider in advance of the shutdown period will allow you to discuss together what maintenance jobs need to be conducted. Not only can the service visit get booked in, an order can be placed for the required consumables, spare parts etc that will be required, ensuring they are all available and ready to go.
It would also be worth looking over the oil sample analysis results with the service provider that have been taken as part of routine preventive maintenance visits over the past 12 months. This will identify any trends and if anything else needs corrective action. If any issues are detected, recommendations can be made and actions planned, preventing potential future costly repairs, breakdowns or shutdowns. If recommendations are made, it may well be the case that some, if not all, of them can be scheduled in to be actioned over the shutdown period.
The festive shutdown can be a very productive period for a business in terms of undergoing required compressed air system service and maintenance work as well as making system improvements or upgrades. To get the optimum outcomes, however, maintenance planning in the run-up to the festive season is essential.
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