Electrical Safe Work Practices 2024 NFPA 70E Online Training


Leverage Asset Reliability to Achieve Operational Excellence

Most organizations rely on critical electrical equipment to reach mission-critical operational and financial goals. The reliability of your energized assets, ranging from HVAC systems to intricate production line machinery, has a direct and measurable impact on your ability to serve customers and provide a safe work environment for your employees.

When your key electrical assets perform at their best, they enable cost-effective product delivery and a safer work environment. The risk posed by unreliable assets can significantly impact an organization’s physical safety, service quality, and long-term viability.

Operational excellence is more than a buzzword — it’s a comprehensive strategy to elevate your organization’s performance. However, it’s often a strategy that many companies struggle with or haven’t fully integrated into their practices. Despite greater flexibility, smaller organizations often lack the resources or focus to implement operational excellence effectively. On the other hand, larger enterprises require assistance in standardizing processes and maintaining collaboration among their various departments and sites.

No matter your size, developing a robust reliability and maintenance program is a catalyst for overall organizational safety, asset optimization, and operational performance.

The Consequences of Unreliable Assets

As a maintenance and reliability professional, you may have experienced the pressures of asset failures. Stress and frustration can escalate when troubleshooting unplanned failures becomes complex, requiring time to isolate and rectify the issue during critical and costly downtime.

Faulty assets are more than an inconvenience; they can halt your entire production line, jeopardizing safety, quality, and productivity. The failure of essential equipment disrupts the entire production cycle, leading to increased costs and causing further delays downstream in the process.

Efficiency Impacts

Your business is the most profitable when everything works according to plan. For this to happen, you must execute many factors correctly to ensure optimized performance from your people and assets. Even one unreliable asset can disown an entire system or process.

Increased Maintenance Costs

Developing and implementing a reliability and maintenance program always comes with inherent costs, but failing to have an optimized maintenance plan can cost you far more. Unexpected equipment breakdowns require emergency repairs with little to no notice or preparation, forcing maintenance workers to work inefficiently and delay other scheduled maintenance activities.

In facilities that operate around the clock, urgent repairs often include call-ins and overtime expenses for the maintenance teams. Emergency work also increases the risk of additional unplanned downtime as the repairs could require out-of-stock parts, unexpected verification and testing, and outside contractor or vendor support to return the asset to production.

Decreased Workplace Safety

Another impact of unreliable asset performance is creating an unsafe work environment that increases the risk to your personnel and the environment. When your maintenance plan does not include the routine inspection of electrical assets, they can become dangerous. Many components of assets shift, degrade, or weaken over time.

For example, small vibrations in energized assets may gradually loosen connections, leading to potential arc flashes endangering operators. Other equipment guarding, operating tolerances, and protection mechanisms may become loose or physically damaged with regular operation, creating unpredictable hazards and increasing the possibility of injuries.

Reputational Damage

While a poor reliability and maintenance program contributes to the factors above, they contribute to multiple issues and can damage your brand’s reputation. In addition to the direct impact on personnel, serious accidents or a poor safety history can require government intervention and may be publicized to a broad audience.

Downstream, your customers can see the results of frequent breakdowns and poor asset performance, often leading to poor experiences, delayed shipments, or canceled orders. Customers will pursue industry competitors for a more reliable business partner.

Maintenance Strategies

Several maintenance methodologies, international standards, professional certifications, and strategies exist in the industrial era. Most of these approaches are similar, with some unique approaches to process and analysis.

The most significant component of any methodology is establishing standards, operating procedures, and governance to ensure your team executes, manages, and monitors key performance indicators to allow continuous improvement. Technological advances for monitoring progress and communication tools empower innovative approaches to facilitate adequate reliability and maintenance programs.

When determining the best maintenance plan for an asset or system, you must assess the asset’s role, requirements, impact, and the level of reliability required for the asset to serve its purpose in your facility. You must determine the asset’s criticality and implement the appropriate maintenance strategy to meet your facility’s and production needs.

Let’s explore sample maintenance strategies for assets based on criticality!

Run to Failure

A ‘run to failure’ approach in asset management refers to a strategy where you operate equipment or assets continuously without performing any proactive maintenance or intervention until they break down or fail. Instead of regularly scheduling maintenance or inspections, this approach involves running the asset until it can no longer function properly and then repairing or replacing it.

While this method might seem cost-effective in the short term by avoiding regular maintenance expenses, it can lead to significant drawbacks. Running assets to failure often results in increased downtime, unexpected interruptions in operations, higher repair or replacement costs, and potentially compromised safety. It’s a reactive rather than proactive approach to asset management that can ultimately be more costly and disruptive in the long run.

Preventive Maintenance (PM)

If your organization has a robust asset management program, you have processes to review the PM effectiveness of your operations periodically. You can modify some PM schedules based on the utilization of the asset from time-based PMs to meter-based PMs, as opposed to a traditional calendar-based approach.

Integrating procedures into the performance and analysis of PMs will help you track additional work identified during the performance of PM activities.

How does your electrical maintenance program (EMP) stack up against the NFPA 70B standard for electrical equipment maintenance?

Predictive Maintenance (PdM)

A sign that your maintenance program is well-developed is that it incorporates predictive technology to reduce the amount of downtime and intrusive maintenance on critical assets. Assets can often be damaged when performing maintenance as settings, tolerances, fluids, and other attributes can be disturbed during activities.

Manufacturers typically calculate service recommendations based on average performance data. Chapter 9 of the NFPA 70B standard for electrical equipment maintenance also provides clear guidance on continuous monitoring and predictive techniques, including infrared thermography.

Individual assets may differ from the norm based on their application in your facility. Properly applied sensors allow maintenance workers to monitor real-time changes in performance and identify trends toward asset failure. This specific data provides a more accurate view of the operational condition of a machine. Your reliability and maintenance program should have criteria that define which assets are ideal targets for PdM activities.

From process to program: Transform your electrical infrared inspection approach.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)

A reliability-centered maintenance strategy for an asset applies a much more significant management approach. This is a strategy you would typically apply to your most critical assets, requiring more analysis, planning, and time to implement effectively.

When applying a true RCM approach for an asset, your technicians focus on maintenance optimization and developing an advanced individualized care plan that carefully assesses and either eliminates or minimizes the risks of failure and unplanned downtime.

A good RCM approach incorporates tools such as Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA), predictive maintenance, PM optimization, prescriptive maintenance, continuous improvement initiatives, and artificial intelligence (AI) modeling when applicable and available.

Benefits of Maintaining Asset Reliability

Optimize your asset reliability, and you’ll experience lifts in your uptime and maintenance efficiency, as well as more predictable asset performance and costs.

It is easy to overlook more subtle benefits of a well-maintained asset portfolio, such as asset lifecycle extension, improved wrench time, cost reductions due to accidental damage, improved safety, and significant opportunities to boost energy and emissions savings.

Operational Excellence

If your organization doesn’t have an efficient asset management strategy and program, it is practically impossible to evolve beyond traditional preventive maintenance.

Developing a formal strategy with dedicated governance and focusing on maintaining assets in a good state of repair will help you drive cultural behavior and lead to operational excellence. Over time, maintenance approaches become embedded in the culture and lead to collaborative engagement to increase efficiency and asset performance.

Regulatory Compliance

In addition to asset performance, insurance providers, and regulatory agencies like Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have strict rules about facility safety. An excellent regulatory compliance maintenance regimen will involve regular asset and safety inspections. A good asset management program should always focus equally on aligning Safety, Reliability, and Maintenance, which we at SEAM Group call optimized performance.

Increased Productivity

An optimized asset maintenance schedule avoids shutting down machines at times when it will interrupt production. Your well-managed facilities can carry out their mission without distraction by avoiding emergency downtime. From a people’s perspective, this increased reliability can also lower employee stress levels, minimize costs and keep all aspects of your organization more productive.

Advanced Asset Monitoring

If reputation management is a high priority for your brand, you will benefit from working with an experienced partner in the field to avoid any reputational damage caused by unreliable assets. SEAM Group is a global leader in asset performance management and maintenance planning and execution. We can help your business develop and implement plans to keep your energized assets online and efficient.

Contact our team to learn more about the benefits of maintaining asset reliability.

Call 866.772.6770 for more information.

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