Maintenance costs have been rising for years in an environment of decreasing availability of qualified personnel who are in increasing demand and with increasingly complex in house procedures for personnel safety. Maintaining and improving productivity is paramount in any manufacturing operation which is achieved by optimum use of equipment, with minimal energy use and with the least downtime all with the utmost safety. Maintenance cost has become a larger share of overall expense to be considered in any choice of equipment, and just as important as energy cost and the equipment cost along with the equipment operating cost. Over time, maintenance procedures can become more complex for equipment with upgrades and
addition so it is important to know which is the most important for both monitoring and scheduling.
Equipment should not be used beyond the purpose for which they are intended as it reduces their lifespan and negatively affects their ability to work efficiently, resulting in frequent breakdowns and costly repairs.
Preventative maintenance minimizes unscheduled breakdowns but a regular maintenance schedule that covers all essential equipment and accessories reduces overall costs. Technology is becoming more and more cost effective for monitoring key aspects of machine functions for determining a time line for when something needs to be addressed and aid planning. Maintaining and improving productivity is the only way to maintain and improve the bottom line. To do this, companies sometimes focus on only one aspect such as reducing energy costs in a particular application, and will look at alternate equipment costs but sometimes overlook the implications on maintenance expense and the cost of maintenance itself. Yet, these maintenance costs are of every increasing impact. While in some instances the impact of downtime cost and maintenance expense may not be large such as in non-critical areas of the manufacturing process,
but in others it can be quite major. These cases should have a high value put toward the use of equipment that may require less maintenance.
Advantages of a good maintenance program are as follows:
1, Equipment downtime is decreased and the number of major repairs are reduced
2. Increased life expectancy of equipment, and elimination of premature replacement of machinery
3. Reduced overtime cost with more economical use of maintenance personnel and improved technician productivity
4. Scheduled repairs mean fewer large-scale repairs
5. Improved safety and quality conditions for everyone
Compressed air operated equipment and any pneumatic system requires low maintenance and have long operating life. As energy costs go down or at least rise more slowly than the cost of maintenance, the overall cost advantage of pneumatics goes up against alternatives. This is testament to the continued strength and growth in the use of pneumatic tools over electrical for many more reasons apart from just less maintenance and ruggedness.
This is also true in many applications for cleaning and drying and even cooling. For years there has been and still is, a competition between the uses of electrically driven blowers and blower operated nozzles and air knives verses compressed air nozzles and air knives. Blower companies
consistently work to improve blowers to reduce the time between necessary maintenance but cannot battle the rising cost every time maintenance is required. Both electrical blower blow off products and compressed operated blow off products have their place.
Compressed air operated nozzles and air knives have virtually zero maintenance. The only concern is to be sure that the supply air is clean and dry. To this end Nex Flow has introduced an essentially zero maintenance point of use Super Separator to assure quality air supply. In addition progress has continually been made to reduce the cost of the energy used with on-off control such as the Nex Flow PLCFC system. Even a simple regulator to reduce the pressure to a nozzle or air knife to the point where it still does the job but at a minimum pressure level optimizes energy use.
All these pneumatic blow off products last years. Pneumatic products have almost unlimited life as long as the air supply is kept clean and dry. They all have the added advantage of low noise levels such as the Nex Flow Air Blade air knives (69 dBA at 80 PSIG operation). High noise level is an increasingly serious safety concern and could only become more important as the demand by maintenance and also production employees for higher safety standards in a factory environment increase.
Even the effect of climate change can affect the maintenance of some equipment. Air conditioning of control panels is an area where there is a gradual change to non-ozone depleting, and carbon neutral coolant. As these new products are much more costly, more reactive, and that means more maintenance which means more cost. Every maintenance that causes downtime negatively impacts productivity. The risk of having the parts available and the personnel there
when necessary is something always to be considered. Downtime on a control panel immediately impacts production.
Nex Flow Panel Coolers have been popular for use in relatively dirty, hot and humid environments as a maintenance free air conditioner and demand is not decreasing. The company is continually working on improving the energy efficiency of these products and of Vortex Tube technology itself as it still is the only simple and economical alternative, even now when maintenance costs are included. They use no filters for example which not only go up in cost,
the disposal of these filters go up in cost along with the maintenance personnel who have to change them! As with compressed air operated blow off nozzles and air knives, these vortex tube technology products have an indefinite life due to their ruggedness and as long as the air supply is clean and dry, can last the lifetime of the machine on which it is used.
The more critical the control panel that needs cooling, the more important is reliability and a pneumatically operated Panel Cooler is the most reliable as well as one of the most climate friendly technologies which uses no chemicals that can impact the planet – it uses only compressed air – the air we breathe every day
If you can minimize maintenance, you have increased safety and even greater security in your production. The worst nightmare of anyone with downtime is waiting for a part, and certainly keeping that part in stock itself is a cost. Eliminating that worry can be a huge saving in cost. In any analysis always consider the cost of maintenance and how it is increasing over time.