Improving Operations with Process Management and Maintenance
Compost facility operators often consider maintenance a necessary evil required to repair broken equipment. They understand the need to grease and oil moving parts but are often naïve about modern maintenance strategies documented to save time and money.
Maintenance programs have evolved from reactive (fix it when it breaks), to proactive (maintenance on a schedule). Some even take their programs a little further employing reliability centered maintenance (RCM) which uses some strategies to evaluate whether or not maintenance resources are needed before executing the work.
The Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility (IERCF) is the largest fully enclosed composting facility in North America. The facility’s maintenance program evolved through the differing maintenance strategies and has some good examples of each. The facility is in many ways more high-tech than most composting facilities that people are familiar with, but it’s challenged by similar problems. The major challenges include corrosion, dust, moisture, and how to sufficiently maintain equipment while meeting safety, throughput,and compliance obligations.
For example, the facility uses several small electric motors to power conveyors which use the run to fail method. Larger motors running large exhaust fans use oil samples and vibration analysis to catch problems early on before they become costly to repair. Compost can generate ammonia which mixes with moisture and dust and becomes corrosive to many steel products. Developing an inspection and field correction plan can dramatically reduce impacts from these issues.
Bottom line, identifying the appropriate maintenance strategy and action plan can reduce down time, failures and costs.