Long-Term Strategies for Lowering Equipment Maintenance Costs

Process facilities such as refineries and chemical plants are constantly under pressure to minimize costs. Unfortunately, maintenance is an ongoing, large expense item on the P&L statement. An effective end-to-end strategy is necessary, starting with carefully planning your systems to regular maintenance. Below are some long-term strategies for lowering equipment maintenance costs that your plant can use to improve efficiency and reduce the chance of breakdowns.

  1. Plan for the Capital Project group’s output for ongoing maintenance needs – This tip is essential for reducing life cycle costs. It is crucial to regularly access the location, design, and purchasing information on your assets during their entire operating life. This data must be gathered regularly to be at the ready before commissioning starts and is vital during operating years. There isn’t time to procure the data once the plant is in operation, due to the lack of time and resources needed to do the job correctly. This vital information can be lost forever as personnel are then forced to guess. No matter how educated the estimates are, errors are bound to happen. We suggest ensuring all your asset and instrument tag numbers have procurement and design data outlined in individual files, as well as combining them with drawings and numbered manuals for easier access.
  2. Reduce costs through engineering – Your engineering team can play a critical role in designing systems with equipment that require fewer or low-cost spare parts through continuous innovation. Under normal circumstances, the engineering team works with plant operations to plan for and deal with issues concerning current equipment. They then may be put in charge of working with vendors in the design of modular parts. These sort of work around initiatives can result in up to a 30% cost reduction for many plants.
  3. Do what leaders do – Show your corporate and senior managers what practices and methods are being used by leaders in your industry so they can understand the kind of results that are possible in costs versus benefits. This involves more than just a simple explanation on the values of pro-active maintenance practices and asset management. It may involve test trials on your own equipment using improved reliability methods and more advanced tech than you currently use. These practices can improve your performance by delivering the necessary information to achieve better work quality and accurate control of operations. You must prove the value of these new methods to senior managers in terms of financial gain so they support the introduction. It is also important to train personnel in the new tactics to make sure they are applied correctly.
  4. Use the best suppliers and vendors for your operation – It is important to choose the best in your business in order to form long-term partnerships. The practice can save you time, give you access to better pricing reserved for long-term alliances, utilize expertise for problem solving, all while letting you focus on your operation. It may not be the first party you select, but in time you will know who you can count on to cultivate the people who bring the right answers to your problems. Your chosen partners will also be motivated to do their best in the hope it will lead to future business. You should also consider entering into a long-term exclusive partnership to give them further justification to invest their efforts in your plant.
  5. Get the extended insurance or warranties – This is an essential strategy when purchasing new equipment. The strategy costs more up front but reduces the cost of maintenance and repairs in the long term, given that breakdowns do not happen right away. Research potential threats that may arise with the equipment and analyze which components or machines need to be insured while deciding which coverage to purchase.

AMACS is a trusted supplier to the processing industries including: refining, petrochemical, gas, and chemical. Our team designs and manufactures separation and mass transfer equipment solutions. We have the ability to advise the correct “replacement in-kind equipment” of trays, hardware, packing, and mist eliminators for towers. Our team is available 24/7 to quickly service planned or unplanned shutdowns and turnarounds. Contact us today so we can discuss your process tower internal needs.