Poor preservation of critical spares can have a costly business impact, including extended downtime, reduced service life or even the replacement of damaged components before they are used.
Author: Mark O’Neill
Spares Preservation – particularly critical spares – is a critical materials management activity (we’ve written previously about it here and here). Bluefield recently created maintenance strategies for the preservation of the fixed plant critical spares of a mid-tier global mining client. Our client had identified the critical spares for their operation using their business definition, however no preservation requirements had been developed.
A survey of the critical spares revealed serious concerns, with some expensive critical spares in unserviceable condition, many that will fail prematurely in service, and others that were missing altogether.
Spares such as electric motors, gearboxes, pulleys, bearings, gearsets, transformers, engines and hydraulic cylinders all require tailored preservation strategies to ensure they are ready for service when required and in a condition to provide maximum expected life from the day they enter service.
New or refurbished spares generally arrive on site with short term preservation activities undertaken (perhaps 3 months storage), or for the transit only - neither suitable for the long-term storage critical spares normally undergo. Even where the client specifies long-term storage preservation activities be performed by the supplier, these still have a time limit of effectiveness. Scheduled inspection and re-preservation are required to ensure the spares remain protected.
As an example, gearcases are commonly transported empty, with only a coating of rust preventative lining the internal gearing. Once on site at the storage location, further actions should be undertaken such as filling the gearcase with oil and adding a vapour phase corrosion inhibiter (VCI) to prevent corrosion/oxidation from occurring as a result of the air contained within the gearcase. These gearcases also need scheduled inspections for leaks and top-up of the VCI (replacing the consumed VCI) to maintain this protection, along with other inspection requirements. Similarly, electric motors require regular attention and rotation of the shafts to prevent bearing damage that can occur from vibration in static storage.
Bluefield has learned over time that it’s critical to ask the following questions:
- Has your organisation considered the preservation of their critical spares or is the business left exposed?
- Does the supply team have the resources and capabilities to perform these tasks alone or does the maintenance team need to take responsibility or provide skilled assistance?
- Are the preservation and inspection tasks captured in the CMMS to ensure they are carried out when and as required to enable success of the program?
Poor preservation of critical and other important or expensive spares can have a costly business impact, including extended downtime, reduced service life or even the replacement of damaged components before they are used.