Maintenance program to increase efficiency
By Lisa Campbell, 81st Force Support Squadron
/ Published July 24, 2014
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Civil Engineering's Operations and Maintenance team begins a major initiative to save money and minimize equipment downtime across Keesler Air Force Base with the launch of a Reliability Centered Maintenance Program.
What is Reliability Centered Maintenance?
RCM is a program that evaluates equipment performance, piece by piece, to determine wear and lifecycle of each item. Furthermore, it helps establish which parts or systems are most critical when it comes to routine scheduled maintenance. Overall, the goal of any RCM program is to institute the most cost effective plan for maintaining complex systems and minimize equipment failure or downtime.
Keesler's RCM program launched this past January and is headed up by PAE's Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning personnel, since HVAC maintenance is one of the most frequent challenges and expenses for the base. The process began with the purchase of some cutting edge evaluation equipment including a Thermal Imaging System used for detecting mechanical hot-spots, a Laser Coupling Alignment Kit for precise equipment alignment, and Ultrasonic Inspection System and Flow Meter that improve system monitoring and calibration.
In the field, this equipment provides HVAC technicians the ability to see what is happening inside machinery or electrical panels before turning a screwdriver. Also, the precise digital readings enable technicians to better understand and troubleshoot the issue, saving the government a significant amount of time and money.
As use of the new equipment increases and baseline readings are established for all the mechanical components across Keesler, a comprehensive scheduled maintenance plan, also referred to as Preventative Testing and Inspection, will be established.
"Right now, we're only in the infancy stage of developing this program," said John Grant, PAE Assistant Mechanical Supervisor and RCM Project Leader." It will take a couple years to get through the volume of facilities and mechanical equipment we have at Keesler, but we're getting started
As the database of facility evaluations grows, Civil Engineering and Wing leadership will be able to take a more strategic approach to facility maintenance. Together they can identify critical systems as well as low priority areas that can be permitted to "run to failure." The other benefit to the program is that it will provide more time to plan for the necessary outages or procurement of funding.
While establishing the RCM program is a primary initiative, the equipment is also being used on regular service calls and already is paying off in dividends. CE was frequently being called for lack of cooling in various buildings. HVAC technicians used the laser alignment tool to realign the rubber coupling inserts in more than 30 problem pumps that failed everyone to two months. Each failure required replacing the rubber insert at $75-300 (based on size). Since realignment, over the past six months, there have been zero failures.
Another success story involved the central energy plant in the Triangle. This facility, housing six secondary chill water pumps, pushes out approximately 6,000 gallons per minute to 19 facilities. Thermal imagery identified areas of excessive heating in the motors, drastically shortening their lifespan. Four of the six faulty motors were replaced with marathon motors, saving time and money that would have been spent on repetitious rebuilds and temporary fixes. More importantly, identifying the issue early on eliminated any unscheduled service interruptions.
"That's really our goal," said Grant, "to minimize or eliminate the impact on the mission. This RCM program is an opportunity to improve quality, value and mission readiness. We now have the technology to get ahead of the problems and save equipment and money."