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Most organizations have gaps in their electrical infrastructure maintenance practices. Since the purpose of maintenance is to prevent faults from occurring, these gaps could endanger building occupants and can cause downtime, which may increase the total cost of ownership (TCO) of equipment and systems. A structured, planned maintenance program can help organizations optimize equipment lifespan, control the TCO, and safeguard human life.
Why do electrical infrastructure components fail?
Table 1: Common causes of up to 67% of electrical equipment breakdowns in business facilities
For most businesses, an electrical network is the lifeblood that drives operations. Network operators and plant managers must maintain their networks and ensure uninterrupted power while addressing issues such as budget cuts, problematic environments, and safety concerns. The pressure to decrease costs often leads to reducing in-house maintenance teams and following an “on-demand” repairs approach – which can result in risky maintenance planning.
In fact, the principal reason for electrical system failure is lack of maintenance. All electrical equipment requires regular maintenance to optimize operations, avoid breakdowns, and ensure safety. To further complicate matters, the design of many existing electrical infrastructures simply can’t support ever-increasing workload demands. With the added factors of faulty components and heavy equipment usage, an inconsistent maintenance program can hinder the performance and life expectancy of electrical systems.
The question is not if a failure will occur, but when. Electrical equipment failure rates are three times higher for components not covered by a scheduled maintenance program, as compared to equipment under a service plan, according to a study published by the Hartford Steam Boiler insurance company.
A comparison of on-demand maintenance and service plans
Table 2: Comparison points of on-demand maintenance vs. the service plan approach
When developing an effective maintenance program, plant managers should consider the following:
• On-demand maintenance only occurs at the request of business owners or managers. It does not constitute a long-term service provider agreement, and rarely factors in equipment lifecycle issues. An on-demand customer isn’t likely to receive priority response from the service provider. In this scenario, costs are low, but risk of losses that can impact the business is high.
• Service plans cover standard maintenance and offer “predictive maintenance,” which can help keep costly issues from occurring. Providers can also customize service plans according to unique requirements. For example, emergency on-site intervention along with priority access to spare parts can resolve issues in critical environments such as hospitals, where downtime can be a matter of life and death.
An organization that wishes to convert from an on-demand service practice to a service plan approach should take these steps:
• Step 1: Record the number of electrical breakdowns and their impact over the past 5-10 years. Quantify the amount of money spent on correcting electrical faults through on-demand maintenance.
• Step 2: Contact the electrical equipment manufacturer and request a service plan customized to the nature of the business. The plan should guarantee emergency on-site intervention and delivery of spare parts for immediate corrective action in case of a breakdown.
Investing in a service plan enables an organization to avoid up to 67% of potential electrical breakdowns and any associated financial losses. In addition, service plans can reduce overall maintenance expenses and prolong the lifespan of electrical equipment.