Scheduling and Maintenance

Maintenance may be seen as a task required at two separate times, one during ongoing operation and the other when the operation stops. Ongoing operational maintenance includes tasks that don' t impair or require stopping of the main process equipment that significantly reduce refinery production. Some routine tasks are included in this category, like lubrication, examination, monitoring, inspection and cleaning of equipment, calibration of instruments, repairing insulation, checking and tuning electric systems, repainting, changing lightbulbs and steam traps, and fixing leaks. Leakage happens to be the single biggest area of energy wastage that can be addressed by what is normally a simple and low cost maintenance service.

But many other maintenance activities require some slowdown or stop in production. Among these it is possible to quote: procedures to repair burners and draft control equipment such as fan and blowers, for fired heaters and boilers; cleaning of heat transfer surfaces in heat exchangers, fired heaters and boilers to reduce fouling; maintenance of motors, turbines and drivers to recover optimal energy performance; maintenance of pumps, fans, compressors and blowers to restore flow rate; replacement of worn impellers, bearings and sealings, and checking and adjusting alignment. Refurbishing and replacement of expected and unexpected worn parts and some special repairs, like leaks from awkward places, electric connections, and other auxiliary equipment such as safety checks on valves. These services might be planned in a predictive or preventive manner and depending on their burden on operational costs or safety may be postponed for some time, but they have to be done at some moment.

A good maintenance program has to contemplate all planning, scheduling and monitoring for the maintenance assignments to be executed in a predictable and well organized way. The benefits of such a maintenance system are reliability, safety, availability and confidence in the operational assets that improve team work and employee morale. And it must match production planning and scheduling. Actually they must be structured together and when this planning and scheduling are well established, they can contribute to energy efficiency with substantial reduction of wasted energy and lost production by avoiding or diminishing effects of equipment breakdowns. But this effort begins well before any tools are seized or spare parts are changed.

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