Keeping production lines operational when they are needed most

April 14, 2020 10:28 am Published by

Routine plant shutdowns are commonly used to allow time for preventative maintenance projects, in-depth housekeeping, upgrades and other time-consuming tasks that are not easily manageable within a facility’s daily operating schedule. Shutdown events sometimes are scheduled months or even years in advance, and the list of things that need to be accomplished can be quite lengthy. What happens when planned maintenance is not possible, especially when as now food, medical and other production lines may be critical to the fight against Coronavirus. How do you keep things running when it is inadvisable for a large maintenance team to be present on site?

PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. According to the HSE website it requires that “all work equipment be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient order and in good repair; where any machinery has a maintenance log, the log is kept up to date; and that maintenance operations on work equipment can be carried out safely”. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) published guidance on the 17th March about the cancellation of maintenance visits and assessing the risk of having people coming to the facility to check and maintain equipment with that of suffering a breakdown.

There will come a point where maintaining or repairing a production line will become essential. The BHTA guidance document says “If establishments are in lock-down, consideration should be given to whether the equipment can be brought to an outside location for testing and maintenance, such as a garage area.  If it is not possible to do this, a risk assessment should be carried out, balancing the risk of allowing access to the equipment in situ and then cleaning and disinfecting, against the risk of the item failing if it is not taken out of use until inspection and testing can be carried out.”

Another possible answer to keeping track of equipment performance is condition monitoring. This is the process of collecting operating information from a machine while it’s running to detect changes in the machine’s condition that may lead to a failure. When changes are detected the data collected can be analysed to determine the cause of the problem, pinpoint the fault and predict when it may fail. The installation of the monitoring equipment will as with everything else at the moment will be subject to a risk assessment.

Harrier Pneumatic engineers have many years of experience in providing a comprehensive planned and emergency cover maintenance service. At this difficult time, we can liaise with your maintenance teams to work within social distancing guidelines while carrying out essential inspections and repairs on your vital production machinery. It may well be preferable to have one experienced engineer on site for a brief period to work on equipment they thoroughly understand than two or more general maintenance operatives for a longer time. Please get in touch to discuss how we can work with you to keep your factory functioning efficiently.

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This post was written by Yafit Davis