Lucite International Inc’s (LI) Fite Road site team recently introduced a vibration program designed to identify defects in rotating equipment, providing the plant with several weeks’ notice of any potential equipment failure.

Having this advanced notice is impactful for LI in two significant ways. First, it gives the Operations team an opportunity to pre-empt a possible failure by installing a spare pump immediately, or to plan for a controlled plant shutdown by designating a specific period for equipment replacement. The second major benefit is cost savings. If the plant can repair equipment before more damage is done, the ultimate cost of repair is less.

Victor Foster, Reliability Engineer at Fite Road, helped explain this valuable piece of work.

 
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Victor began: “These two scenarios are very similar to what occurs when we drive our cars. When the low tire pressure warning light comes on, the driver is given an advanced notice of the tire’s potential failure. It’s the same principle for when our vibration warning signifies that a set of bearings needs to be replaced. The driver can preemptively repair the tire to avoid being stranded on the side of the road.

The purpose of the dashboard warning light, notwithstanding the obvious safety implications, serves as a reminder that continuing to drive on a defective tire may not only result in having to buy a new tire, but also potentially having to incur other significant damage to the vehicle as a result of the tire problem.”

 

Why did the site undertake a new look at the program?

The Reliability and Maintenance department began to track metrics already present on Work Orders being filed at the site. These metrics highlighted how work requirements were identified. Some of the coding came from operators and supervisors making their rounds, oil samples, the vibration program, failure of equipment or other criteria that did not always provide the insight required to properly analyze equipment failures.

The site team was disappointed that the vibration program itself was not providing the information they hoped for. Since a significant investment was made into the program, the team decided to see what needed to be done to improve its effectiveness and added value to the Company.

 

What impact has the investment in an upgrade and training had?

Upgrades to the vibration program hardware and software, as well as training for the maintenance personnel tasked with taking the equipment readings were provided. The database was completely reprogrammed to include high-resolution readings at every point possible on all equipment stored in the database.

As a result, the team is now able to identify more defects sooner, allowing them to plan and schedule repairs around a preferred production schedule, providing greater efficiency and cost savings.

The program will also now facilitate faster data gathering so potential repairs can be anticipated which, in turn, supports overall plant reliability in meeting customers’ demands.

The team was previously unable to undertake ‘phase analysis’ to allow for troubleshooting of rotating equipment while it was running; the plant had to shut down the equipment to do such troubleshooting. This analysis can now be done without any disruption to ongoing operations. With the program now fully implemented, Victor concluded: “We believe this is another successful initiative from the Reliability and Maintenance department and one that will significantly reduce costs, minimize unscheduled down time and improve our service to customers.”