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Better to be safe than sorry?

"If it ain't broke - don't fix it:"So the truism goes. Why spend time and money monitoring and maintaining equipment or machinery when it is operating perfectly well and any short-term remedial work can be reacted to 'on the fly'?

Under pressure to hit ever-more demanding cost-saving targets, those responsible for water treatment assets may well be tempted to take the short-term view to repair and replace as required.  After all, luck and a fair wind could see healthy budgets protected.


But short-term planning could be false economy where equipment is mission critical.  What if a plant failure resulted in discharge consents being breached and hefty fines incurred?  What if sewage sludge had to be tankered off site because treatment works stopped being able to process it?  The additional costs could be crippling.


As we approach AMP6, water companies are looking for new and better ways to maintain and optimise existing plant before investing large capital sums in new equipment.


Agreed, there are some items of equipment where ‘use once and throw away’ is expedient, or where the direct labour force is best qualified to carry out running repairs.


However, where there are priority processes, legislative or health and safety considerations, asset managers are well-advised to take out service and maintenance agreements with manufacturers to protect specific items of plant


In my experience, the results can be decisive and performance can be seen to improve when service agreements have been running for several years. 


For filtration systems like DynaSand® from Hydro International, for example, ensuring that operators maintain water quality within consent limits is critical.  Effective preventative maintenance also has the potential to improve efficiency, reduce energy usage and extend operating life.


A combination of robust inspection routines, good communication, clear, transparent reporting and documentation all aid the efficient working relationships between the service provider and the operator.


By reducing unplanned visits, a service contract reduces downtime and increases plant availability – particularly important on mission-critical processes.    


Furthermore, by optimising operating efficiency, preventative maintenance programmes can extend the life of the equipment, reduce through-life costs and reduce energy usage.


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