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Understanding plant maintenance

Power plant maintenance is one of the important topics to consider since most advanced countries harness most energy consumed from renewable energy. Power plants are farms or sources where the energy is created before distribution.  Both renewables such as (thermal, wind, solar, hydroelectric energy, biomass) and non-renewable such as fossil fuels have their own proper method of plant maintenance. Power plants require thorough, well-kept maintenance techniques in order to keep them running and to stay safe. Today you’ll get to know the definition, importance, requirement, types, and how to perform power plant maintenance.

power plant maintenance

Read more: Understanding overall equipment effectiveness

What is plant maintenance?

Plant maintenance is the application of best practices to increase equipment uptime in manufacturing facilities. It is crucial for the safety and preserving the longevity of plant assets. It also helps avoid unplanned downtime and ensures production stays on schedule. Power plant maintenance is vital for operations at all power plants, both to ensure the safety of personnel at the plant and to keep all of the assets and infrastructure in good working order.

Failure to employ the right plant maintenance procedures will cause the equipment and machinery to fall into disrepair. This could lead to potentially dangerous situations on-site and also to the premature failure of expensive equipment used in generating power. Furthermore, understanding plant maintenance will help ensure employees are protected from injury and products are safe for the consumers.

In power plants, there is always an engineer assign for the maintenance, such person is called Power Plant Maintenance Engineer. They are not responsible for doing every single maintenance-related job at the plant because it will be too much for one person to perform. Plant maintenance engineers are meant to supervise these jobs and make sure they have performed accordingly to relevant industry standards.

Maintenance at power plants involves the inspection, adjustment, repair, and replacement of items in the industry. It also includes scheduled preventive maintenance of varieties of assets, equipment, and electrical machinery. Plant maintenance is also responsible for installation, repair, and preventive maintenance for other electronic and pneumatic equipment used in the generation of electrical power.

Finally, on the definition of plant maintenance, it can be defined as the set of activities that are necessary to keep machinery, parts, and types of equipment in good working conditions and to avoid production stoppage and loss.

Importance of implementing plant maintenance

Apart from the above listed, below are the essential importance of plant maintenance.

  • To reduce the loss caused by downtime.
  • Minimizing the loss of production time due to equipment failure.
  • To reduce the total maintenance cost of repair.
  • It helps to keep all productive assets in good working conditions.
  • To improve the quality of the product and to improve productivity.

Read more: Different types of maintenance culture for industrial purposes

Requirement for power plant maintenance

There are some complex systems for power plant maintenance, although plant maintaining can be incredibly complex and challenging. But it is crucial for safety. These plant maintenance requirements are crucial because if a problem is not quickly addressed it could develop into a life-threatening issue. Personnel onsite can’t keep track of the status of each component and asset the plant uses from time to time. This is why power plants use computerized systems to track the real-time status of their equipment, down to small details. With this, nothing slips between the cracks.

Below are two primary systems used in power plant maintenance:

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

SCADA is a complex industrial control system that uses computers and network data communications to monitor plant equipment and machinery conditions. SCADA is used in most industrial processes, including power plant maintenance, refining, fabrication, manufacturing.

CMMS (Computerized Maintenance System)

CMMS help to keep track, share, and archive maintenance schedules and reporting of the plant data since there is so much to keep on the record.

Plant’s CMMS can be integrated with its SCADA systems so that certain dates or events. This will result in automatic work order creation for recurring items such as preventive maintenance or inspections. This integration can be used for sharing information about security-related issues like fault detection, alarms, and abnormal conditions detected within the plant.

Read more: Maintenance in technical aspects

Using drones to improve power plant maintenance

Inspections are an important part of maintenance at any power plant and it can be dangerous when it is performed manually. This is why plants should consider using drones instead of endangering personnel. Routine inspections ensure all assets used in the plant’s processes are in good working order and uncover possible problems.

One of the most difficult inspections done regularly in power plants are inspections of the inside of a tank or a boiler. Performing this task will require inspectors to stand on scaffolding and use flashlights in confined, cramped spaces, exposing themselves to potential harm. Conducting these indoor inspections can be costly and prolong downtimes.

Using drones will help eliminates the need for scaffolding and remove the need for a person to enter the confined space. The potability of drones can help inspect complex parts of the system. Furthermore, drones in power plant maintenance help to improve safety, ROI, and improve asset longevity. Elios 1 and Elios 2 are the common types of drones used in plant maintenance.

Below are the operations of power plant maintenance engineers:

  • CMMS and SCADA coordination and integration
  • Maintaining documentation about the plant’s maintenance procedures
  • Technical support in anything maintenance-related at the plant
  • Developing and making sure personnel adhere to preventive maintenance schedules
  • Ensuring that inspections and maintenance are being conducted in compliance with relevant industry standards
  • Being the connector at the plant between those doing the work (i.e., engineers and other plant workers), management, and outside parties like regulators who require insight into the plant’s maintenance procedures
  • Preparing to report and sharing it with stakeholders at the plant

Read more: Understanding Total productive maintenance (TPM)

Types of plant maintenance

Below are the various types of maintenance carried in power plants.

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Breakdown maintenance:

Breakdown maintenance is also known as corrective maintenance, performed when work gets stopped due to machine breakdown. The maintenance becomes repair work. That is, the repair is made after the equipment is out of order. For instance, a burnt electric motor of a machine will hinder the complete operation until it is put to order.

Preventive maintenance:

Preventive maintenance is carried out before the need arises and aims to minimize the possibility of unanticipated production interruptions or a major breakdown. Preventive maintenance can be performed in different ways, which include proper design and installation of equipment, repetitive servicing of types of machinery, periodic inspection of plant and equipment, and adequate lubrication, cleaning.

Predictive maintenance:

Predictive maintenance is a new type of maintenance that uses a sensitive device to predict trouble conditions that can be measured on a continuous basis. This enables the maintenance of people to plan for an overhaul.

Routine maintenance:

The routine maintenance includes periodic inspection cleaning, lubrication, and repair of production equipment. It can be classified into; running maintenance and shutdown maintenance. The maintenance is carried out while the equipment is in operating conditions in routine maintenance. In shutdown, the maintenance work is carried out when the machine or equipment is out of service.

Planned maintenance:

The maintenance work is planned well in advance, not until the machine breakdown. Planned maintenance is also known as scheduled maintenance, it involves inspection of all plants and equipment, machinery, building according to a predetermined schedule.

Conclusion

Power plant maintenance is vital for operations at all power plants, both to ensure the safety of personnel at the plant and to keep all of the assets and infrastructure in good working order. That is all for this article, where the definition, importance, requirement, types, and how to perform power plant maintenance were discussed.

I hope you get a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

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