Fluke - The Basics Of Predictive/Preventive Maintenance White Paper: Thermography

Our thanks to Fluke Corporation for allowing us to reprint the following white paper.

Maintenance costs, as defined by normal plant accounting procedures, are normally a major portion of the total operating costs in most plants. Traditional maintenance costs (i.e. labor and material) in the U. S. have escalated at a tremendous rate over the past 10 years. In 1981, domestic plants spent more than $600 Billion to maintain their critical plant systems. By 1991, the costs had increased to more than $800 Billion and topped $1.2 Trillion in 2000. These evaluations indicate that between one third and one half of these maintenance dollars are wasted through ineffective maintenance management methods. American industry can no longer absorb this incredible level of inefficiency and hope to compete in the world market. Similar data for other countries is scarce, but we believe the situation is pretty much the same.

The dominant reason for this ineffective use of maintenance expenditures is the lack of factual data that quantifies when and what kind of maintenance is needed to maintain, repair or replace critical machinery, equipment and systems within a plant or facility. Typically, maintenance organizations do not track equipment performance, maintenance tasks performed, failure history or any of the other data that could, and should, be used to plan and schedule tasks that would prevent premature failures, extend the useful life of critical plant assets and reduce their life cycle cost. Instead, maintenance scheduling has been, and in many instances, still is determined by equipment failures or on the perceptions of maintenance personnel who arbitrarily determine the type and frequency of routine maintenance. For example, most facilities that employ thermographic inspections have it done once a year or every 6 months. This is a purely arbitrary decision, not support by any kind of factual data.

In addition, middle and corporate level management has ignored the impact of the maintenance operation on product quality, overall operating costs and more importantly on bottom-line profit. The general opinion has been "Maintenance is a necessary evil" or "Nothing can be done to improve maintenance costs". Perhaps these were true statements 10 or 20 years ago. However, the development of microprocessor or computer-based instrumentation and maintenance management systems provide the means to optimize maintenance effectiveness...

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