In the previous post titled “Best Asset Management Practice — Improving Preventive Maintenance“, Ross shared his insights from his consulting experiences in New Zealand. Heather continued the discussion.
I would just mention that one of the things to think about with your system when you get into preventative maintenance is you can start watching over time how preventative maintenance impacts your system.
So for example if you start doing preventative maintenance on a pump, you could look and see , well, I never used to do it before and the pump would last, say you know 15 years and now, I started doing it and if I watch it for the next 20 years it’ll last longer.
You can start to make decisions on your own about how important preventive maintenance is for different pieces of equipment by watching what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, what it costs. And it will take you some time to do that but that’s okay.
I mean, it’s okay if it takes a while to really get good at this as Ross has mentioned before it has taken 15 years or more for some of the really good things to start happening in New Zealand and Australia.
Well, it can take us a while too as long as we’re moving in the right direction, we’re doing well.
I’ve seen many, many utilities that did not have a preventative maintenance program, were completely in reactive mode, say – we will not going to do any maintenance until something breaks.
That’s a really expensive way to be. That would be kind of like driving your car and saying I’m not going to do anything, I’m not going to change oil, I’m not going to you know change the fuel filter, I’m not going to rotate the tires, I’m not going to do……
One of my uncles does that with his cars and he blows his engine up on a fairly regular basis, and it costs him a fortune…..
Exactly, exactly! So that’s the whole point. The whole point is like you can do that. You can choose to be in completely reactive mode but if you are, you will pay a very high price.
So the fact that maybe for 5 years or in my car I did absolutely nothing, I will still get maybe 5 years out of my car. But in some point I am going to do something like blow a head gasket, burn up the engine or the car’s going to crash because the brakes fail and that’s a really bad way to operate.
I mean, we would never want to do that with our car, and besides your uncle, most of us would rather put in the money. As much as we don’t like to pay for car maintenance, we understand the value of it because it keeps the, you know the 20,000 dollar investment or whatever it is, able for us to continue to drive it.
So the same is true for water utilities. They’re not different. If we don’t put in the preventative maintenance upfront and we don’t do those routine things that we should, it is not going to last as long.
We will get away with it for a while just like with your car or anything else, but you will pay the price in the end and the price will be so much higher than if we did the preventive maintenance at the beginning.
And initially, it’s hard to make that switch between being very reactive and being proactive, but after you get going and you start doing some preventative maintenance you will start to see a benefit from having done it.
But initially you’re still going to be in reactive mode and you have to do preventative maintenance. So you will for a little while have to bite the bullet and do a little bit of both but as you do the preventative maintenance your corrective work will start to drop off.
Because it’s more time consuming and more expensive, you will start to reap the benefit and then you can do more preventative maintenance. And the more preventative maintenance you do again the less corrective that you do. So it starts the cycle that has you in the right direction.
Even just starting a little bit at a time you can start to see benefits. I would encourage anybody to start looking at what kind of preventative maintenance can we do and how can we really make a difference out of our system.
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