AEMT - Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

29 March 2019
The role of rotating equipment repairers is changing
(excerpt from Drives and Controls March issue) All those involved in the repair of rotating equipment have seen considerable change in the industrial landscape over recent years. Operators have become more demanding and machinery has become more complex. All the while, maintenance and repairs need to be completed to ensure continued reliability and performance, and our members approach this challenge from both sides. Thomas Marks, Secretary to the AEMT, looks at the changing role of rotating equipment repairers.

The task of repairing rotating equipment has certainly evolved in recent years. As with any industry, we have taken on board new technology and adapted it to make improvements to our way of working. Lean manufacturing processes have improved efficiency and enabled us to reduce lead times for repairs.

In addition, there has also been much more of a focus on prevention, using proactive maintenance to minimise downtime. Data collection and analysis has become much simpler, enabling machine operators to look at long term trends in machine performance and make better judgements in terms of planned maintenance.

Minimising downtime has always been important, but the need to extract the best performance from the minimum of resources has reached new heights. Operators are less able to have redundant machinery that can be used while duty equipment is offline or being repaired. Fixed assets need to be operational 24/7, with the only downtime being for planned maintenance.

For this reason, repairers have had to become more responsive in the event of a machine failure. No matter how old it is, customers expect new parts to be manufactured almost overnight. The latest technology is both a blessing and a curse – it enables repairers to create identical new parts quickly, even improve the design for better performance. However, the end users are equally aware of these new abilities and therefore expect a much faster service.

At the same time, there is also a focus on the circular economy, reducing energy inputs, minimising the use of raw materials and increasing the amount of recycling. This has recently been formalised in the international standard IEC 60034-23:2019, which sets out the need to reduce material consumption and improve energy efficiency. 

Ultimately, the role of repairers has become more demanding and more complex. New technology has delivered greater insight and the ability to repair machinery much quicker. However, at the same time, there is an expectation to improve performance, efficiency and reliability almost overnight; a goal to which we all aspire.

 
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