Plant Inspections and Lubrication Schedule
Plant Inspections are regular inspections of the plant or factory machinery usually carried out by maintenance staff but increasingly the responsibility for this task is being shifted to plant operators together with simple maintenance tasks such as lubrication. It is common practice that the plant inspections are carried out at the same time as the regular lubrication of the plant and equipment.
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The objective of these inspections is to detect as early as possible any components or machinery that is worn, needs maintenance or replacing before it fails. The success on detecting potential plant failures or plant breakdowns before they happen is in keeping discipline in performing regular plant inspections and lubrication.
The frequency of plant inspections is an important factor in eliminating unforseen plant breakdowns, but they can be limited by several issues such as access to plant and equipment as well as availability of man power to perform these checks. Some inspections can only be done while the plant is not in operation such as inside ovens and dangerous areas where moving components could cause injury. In these situations sensors or cameras may be useful in detecting the conditions of the machinery and equipment and be a useful indicator of potential plant failures.
Plant Inspections in Autonomous maintenance
Plant inspections by operating and production teams are an integral part of autonomous maintenance and Total productive Maintenance (TPM) which together with improved housekeeping standards and the application of the 5s principles can significantly improve the performance of the plant, extend useful life of equipment and lower operating and maintenance costs
Operators and maintenance technicians must also be correctly trained as some components if over lubricated can experience other issues which can also lead to plant failures or pose a fire danger if close to ignition sources.
Regular or daily plant inspections are well suited to be carried out by plant and production operators, but should not be relied upon continuously for this task, the maintenance technicians in the production plant should also perform the same checks and work closely with the operating staff to identify and schedule maintenance work appropriately.
Implementing a routine Inspection and Lubrication schedule
Implementing a routine Inspection and Lubrication schedule is not a complex task, but as stated before its success depends on the discipline, management and knowledge of the team members performing the checks. The following steps can be followed to implement a successful Inspection and Lubrication schedule:
- Define the area or scope of responsibility. The scope of responsibility should be allocated accordingly depending on the team member's skills and time availability to complete these inspections.
- Allocate a responsible team member and provide the correct training to carry out Inspections and lubrication
- Create the correct documentation to record inspections and any problems detected
- Ensure issues detected and plant maintenance is scheduled appropriately in the maintenance schedule for the plant.
An example of a plant inspection and Lubrication schedule can be found below:
Fig1. Plant Inspection and lubrication sheet
For the file of the template above please click here: Plant Inspection template
As can be seen from above the actual technical work and knowledge is not the lion's share of implementing the plant inspection and lubrication schedule, but the culture of care and discipline to follow through identified issues or potential problems with the plant through the correct reporting, documentation and integration with a preventive maintenance system.