According to a recent maintenance study published by Plant Engineering, more than 50% of respondents said their plants are still heavily relying on reactive maintenance. However, organizations and industries (including the power industry) have slowly started to move toward a more proactive maintenance approach because of the numerous benefits its implementation provides. This article addresses what proactive maintenance is and how it can help increase sustainability in the power industry.

What Is Proactive Maintenance?

The kind of maintenance done to forestall a problem or breakdown in a piece of equipment is called proactive maintenance. It includes tasks such as oil level checks and top-ups, servicing, replacement of small malfunctioning parts, and many more, all with one goal in mind—keeping the machine in good condition and avoiding unexpected failures. This is the opposite of reactive maintenance, which schedules work only after an asset experiences some kind of failure.

Over the years, many different approaches to proactive maintenance have been developed. The two most commonly used proactive strategies today are preventive and predictive maintenance, with more-ambitious organizations implementing reliability-centered maintenance or total productive maintenance.

Power Generation and Maintenance

Human beings have evolved to such a level that one can barely live comfortably without a good supply of electricity. All institutions and industries today depend on it for even the simplest of tasks. Power outages (even if for a short time) can significantly affect the production and profit of industries and companies, and by extension, the economy of whole nations.

As a result of this, maintenance in the power industry must be taken very seriously as it is the best way to minimize the chance for any potential power outages.

How Proactive Maintenance Improves Sustainability

Some of the ways proactive maintenance helps improve sustainability in this industry include the following:

  • One of the challenges for power generators is ensuring plants keep running efficiently even with limited resources. Pairing a proactive maintenance strategy with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a great way to accomplish this. The software provides users with real-time data that helps predict problems and make better maintenance plans, while a proactive strategy ensures that data is put to good use and that all of the necessary preventive maintenance operations are efficiently scheduled and conducted.
  • Damage to a machine reduces its lifespan and makes it prone to more failures. Detecting and preventing future malfunctions ensures machines last longer, which minimizes the need for new assets.
  • Proactive maintenance significantly reduces the tendency of power generation systems to suffer a breakdown and makes the plant more reliable in its supply of electricity to industries and people that depend on it.
  • The overall costs of emergency, reactive maintenance measures are quite expensive, especially if specially trained technicians are needed from outside the organization. Simple preventive tasks and regular checks are much cheaper in the long run as the combined cost of a CMMS and work hours technicians spend on preventive tasks is often significantly less than the profit lost when a plant experiences a production shutdown because a critical component fails.
  • By following a good proactive maintenance schedule, all machines can be kept in good operating condition. Healthy assets, in turn, produce less waste, which reduces the overall rate of waste production at power plants.

Some Proactive Maintenance Measures in the Power Industry

Some ways to carry out proactive maintenance on power generation systems include the following:

  • Carrying out regular inspections and analytics to identify small problems or subtle signs of imminent danger. Ancillary facilities should be inspected too.
  • Using a CMMS software program to establish a monitoring and preventive maintenance plan.
  • Collecting measurements and data to determine the lifespan of some gas turbine components.
  • Repairing or replacing parts when they begin to malfunction or when they are too old to function properly.
  • Performing regular general checks on the whole plant at convenient intervals.

As is the case with most industries, the power industry can benefit greatly from an increased use of proactive maintenance methods. While some problems may still occur (some due to accidents), putting in place efficient proactive maintenance measures is an excellent step toward creating a more sustainable environment.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.