Maintenance: It’s not just Fault Finding! Part 1

What Exactly Is My Role

For this manual, I have focused on a generic type role description for the position of Maintenance Electrician.

Take Ownership of What you do!

Most companies will tell you that your role is to ensure equipment functions  to the specifications and to conduct fault finding  in the case of a breakdown. In short, they are saying they don’t want breakdowns but should that happen, you need to get it fixed in the shortest possible time. The real issue here is that they expect you to know what to do in order to maintain maximum up-time of equipment. This is easy enough if you have been working in the maintenance environment for some years so as to gain experience, but what do you do when this is all new to you?

Let’s take a look at the requirements first.

  • You need to perform Preventative Maintenance to prevent downtime
  • You need to perform reactive maintenance to repair breakdowns
  • You must maintain Safety Circuitry to ensure machines are safe to operate
  • You need to report back on equipment status, cost of repairs and efficiency
  • You need to perform alterations to improve machine efficiency

In a nutshell, that will be your primary task. The only thing you have not been shown is the How? So let’s take a closer look at the things that would show you What needs to be done on a typical plant.

  • Prevent motor failure due to bearing failure
  • Prevent equipment shutdown due to faulty switchgear
  • Ensure all connections on equipment are tight
  • Prevent water from entering electrical equipment in wet environment
  • Prevent nuisance tripping by safety devices

Sound easy enough right? Well this is just a basic description on the things that would form part of your task and the next step is to start going into the detail of how to do it and also the things that would make you stand out from the rest of the Electricians that stick to doing exactly what the foreman/supervisor tells them to.

As you will see, a lot of companies will employ a Maintenance Planner. The role of the planner is to schedule tasks for the maintenance crew in terms of preventative maintenance to ensure breakdowns are kept to a minimum. What you need to remember here is that the success of the Maintenance Planner is determined by the efficiency of the plant. That is the best way to measure his/her success but is it the best method in terms of being cost effective. Think about this, if you are the planner and you are going to be measured in this way, what would you do? Pull schedules forward so as to make sure you don’t have downtime? That is what it is all about right? In a sense yes, but what you need to be mindful of is that this could lead to equipment being replace way ahead of the expected lifecycle which leads to the maintenance not being done cost effective. I am in no way saying this is what every maintenance planner will do, but it is a risk. So how does this affect your position? Have a look at the next sections and decide for yourself

The Administration Side

We will start with the most important task in the role of the Maintenance Electrician. You must know what you have to maintain. Even though everything may be listed in the maintenance software, my recommendation is to make sure you do the following:

  • Set up a Journal for every machine you are responsible for
  • Break the equipment down into sections to show every part on the machine
  • Record circuit breaker sizes and, if possible, date of installation
  • Record detail of contactors and date of installation
  • Record detail of overload protection devices, setting of device, maximum rating of motor and again date of installation if known
  • Set up a Journal for every switchboard/control board. Record every component in the board as with the units above

Up to this point we have not done anything out of the ordinary. We have merely created a record of the equipment you are responsible for. With this information, we can now move to the next step where we start using this information in a sensible way

Make the Journal part of your Toolkit!

Example of  Journal

To better explain what I mean, have a look at a sample page of a typical Journal for this action. You can alter the configuration to what style you prefer, add or remove columns and possibly even include a photo of the equipment. This is your document and you need to feel comfortable using it

Waste Water Pump 1
Power   Supply From Distribution Board X1, Circuit Breaker 13, 15, 17 63A 3 Phase + Neutral
Cable   size 25mm² 4Core + Earth
Motor
Size Rating Speed Bearings Drive End Bearing Non Drive Mounting Date Installed
15Kw 34A 1440 63092Z 63092Z Foot Unknown
Service History
Date Work Performed Technician Signature

 

The above list gives you a starting point only!

Use this example to create a full list of each machine/installation and capture all the data of the unit. You will note on the list that I have shortened it in terms of the number of rows to give you an idea of how to structure the document. Make it your own, this is a very useful tool in your role

In the next post we will look at some of the actual tasks you need to perform so till then, Stay Safe and strive to be the best at what you do!

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