The Right Maintenance Strategy is Essential for Achieving Optimal Performance of Pneumatic Actuators

In the next couple of blogs, Jeremy King from Bimba Manufacturing addresses the most difficult challenges facing manufacturers and OEMs as they compete to reach their production targets. With their equipment running at maximum loads, how can they avoid breakdowns in pneumatic components? What are the smartest and most economical approaches available to assure optimal performance? Recent advances in sensor technology make it possible to obtain performance-related data from which more informed decisions can be made about the need to replace failing components. This blog series analyzes the different maintenance strategies for pneumatic actuators and the role sensors can play in each.

As new sensor technologies emerge to monitor the performance of pneumatic actuators, the right maintenance strategy is essential for achieving optimal performance from the equipment. There are three kinds of maintenance strategies to evaluate: corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. Pressure sensing technology can enhance any one of the three maintenance strategy options.

Corrective Maintenance
Corrective maintenance is the practice of diagnosing and replacing components after they have failed.

Advantages:
• Easy to implement
• Minimal startup costs

Drawbacks:
• Greater long term costs
• Unexpected downtime
• Multiple steps: one to diagnose the problem, a second to repair the equipment
• Difficulties managing repair part inventory

When to use:
A corrective maintenance strategy is effective when the cost of component failure is lower than the cost required to replace the component. To justify the application of a corrective maintenance strategy, all costs must be reviewed. These include: cost of component, value of downtime, labor hours, equipment location, availability of components, and cost of inventory.

Role of sensors:
Corrective maintenance strategies rarely include sensors. Their addition increases the initial cost of the equipment. But, there are two ways that sensors can support a corrective maintenance strategy: as a diagnostic tool and as an indicator of a failure. The most economical way to use diagnostic sensors is by installing them after a component fails. Once the sensor discovers the error, the sensor can be removed. This approach reduces startup costs because one set of sensors can work in multiple places, such as complex pneumatic circuits where symptoms of failure can go unnoticed.

A corrective maintenance strategy can also be enhanced with “intelligent” sensors capable of remote monitoring and alarming. A sensor that sounds an alarm when the system is not working can simplify maintenance, especially for difficult-to-reach locations. Without visiting the machine, the technician will know in advance what parts are required for repair, thus reducing service time.

In next week’s blog Mr. King will continue his discussion with the advantages/drawbacks in preventive maintenance.

 

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