On August 7, 2012 I had an occasion to meet Fernando Salvador at the Beaumont Reserve Fleet Headquarters in Beaumont Texas to proceed with some training of the fleet personnel in the applications and operations of Predictive Maintenance.
The training programs offered were the Ultrasound Detection programs including bearing programs and compressed gas programs. Also offered were the Infrared Thermal Imaging programs that would include electrical and mechanical applications.
First a little bit about the reserve fleet. These are a group of ships that are very much like fire engines. There must maintain a state of readiness so that when they are called upon to supply and sea going operation they must be able to respond. Not unlike the fire department and their engines. When a house fire occurs those engines must be ready to respond and this reserve fleet is very much in that same category. When they are called to duty it is not a matter of can we go it is a matter of we must be sea worthy and going in 24 hours.
This brings into play the need for Predictive Maintenance, a situation where a failure would stop a vessel from responding to the duty call is simply not and option, They Must Be Ready To Respond on a very short notice at any time.
We completed 16 hours of class room and hands on training in Ultrasound Detection and Infrared Thermal Imaging.
The Ultrasound Training covered the following applications;
- Bearings Greasing and trending to predict failure, Listening to them as they are to determine their condition
- Trouble shooting and Machine Diagnostics ( Big diesel engine)
- Compressed Gas Leaks. ( Air leaks on deck and in wheel house)
This was a very quick over view of just a few applications that this technology can be used for.
The Infrared Thermal Imaging Training was Concentrated on the two following applications;
- Electrical Switch gear. Looking at all transformers and switch gear trying to find the heat from loose connections and corrosion.
- Mechanical Problems. Hot motors and or hot bearings or misalignment.
As with the und we have on scratched the surface of the applications that these two technologies can be used for.
There were several findings that we feel would have cost several thousands of dollars had we not been able to find or isolate the location of the problem.
One of these was the Drive Diesel Engine.
The Barbara Lois was on the way in and we were advised that they had one engine down and were coming into port. We were asked if we could listen to the engine to see if we could determine where the noise was coming from. I talked with the mechanic and he told me it was a knocking sound that was very loud but hard to figure exactly where it was. We used the Ultrasound to locate and Isolate the noise to the location.
We took reading all along the side of this engine at the head level. As we neared the front end of this engine the noise got louder and louder the would indicate where the problem was because it would be louder at that point.
We checked all the heads and found the one that was making the most noise. This would indicate that the problem was right here.
The head cover was pulled and there was a broken valve spring lying in the oil reservoir under that exact head cover.
It is the opinion of the operators and the techs that this would have been a lot more time consuming and expensive had we not been able to isolate the area of the problem. Another finding on the Barbara Lois was several locations of air leaks on the entire vessel. The main one that was found was under the shifter in the wheel house. I believe this could be causing some problems with the shifting of the gears and drives on this vessel. The air pressure needs to do this shifting as it should be is escaping through leaks in connections and they could never be heard with the ship in operation. We found these leaks while the vessel was in operation and compressors were running.
This is exactly the value of Predictive Maintenance. I only wish we could run all the equipment while it was in full operation.
From here I believe the next step is to acquire the equipment and then use it for a few weeks after which I should return and train your people on the aspects and advantages of setting up routes and trending bearings and equipment.
It is very very important that we build this program with the structure that will allow it to develop and grow as your people become more acquainted with the equipment and more skilled with using it.
The most important thing is consistency with out that you can not trend or base any educated decisions on the data that you are collecting. You must use the equipment and trust what it is telling you. It is sometimes easier to ignore the problem hoping that it will go away, IT WILL NOT. Therefore the consistency and the trusting of the equipment is very important.