As we all know to purchase, install, and even start any equipment (i.e. diesel engine, various type of turbines, propulsion systems, pumps, boilers, and so on) is not enough for a successful realization of your project and it is only the beginning of an exciting journey into your equipment efficient performance process. What is lacking in this equation – is a well thought and clearly defined maintenance plan. Preferably the duration of such plan should be designed for the expected lifetime of the entire project.
Ignoring such planning and budgeting of the maintenance expenses into the total project cost, no matter whether it is related to the power plant or a vessel or any other type of equipment service and maintenance, would be an inexcusable mistake which is hardly to image to be made by any experience project manager or a project owner. Such maintenance services in the industry slang are often called “aftermarket services” or simply “aftermarket”. It could probably be an exaggeration to call aftermarket a standalone science, but it could also be a wrong approach to underestimate its importance and complexity.
Very often aftermarket results in hiring additional engineers and specialists, either on a temporary, service by service arrangements or even on a permanent basis. Take, for example a power plant which is comprised of several large diesel engines, and which produces power for a city grid. Usually, to maximize the plant efficiency, the engines run a maximum number of hours per year to produce a maximum amount of electricity for the city needs. The city and the owner of the plant are interested to stop the engines for the shortest possible time for maintenance and service and put them back again into the production as soon as service is completed. The absence of a well thought in advance maintenance schedule could lead to longer maintenances and accordingly, lower power output, fines, and other penalties for delays, which ultimately could result in the power supply contract termination between the city and plant owner. Nobody wants this! To avoid all such negative situations, aftermarket services should be organized and run as efficiently and smoothly as an engine itself. We all understand that equipment, to be maintained, is different for each specific project, sometimes the differences could be huge. However, there are several general rules and principals which might be applicable to many projects where such maintenance is required.
Let us look at how aftermarket can function in principle and let us take a diesel engine-based power plant as an example for our analysis. The assumption is that such power plant has its own engineers who are capable to take care about basic maintenance of the engines and balance of plant equipment and for the major and most complicated overhauls of the equipment they request the equipment manufacturer to send a team of their specialists to supervise and manage the maintenance process.
First, to start with, the plant itself should be completed, engines and any other maintainable equipment installed and the whole project commissioned. That is the border line where usually (unless there are no other specific terms and conditions) where Aftermarket steps in. Service Contract starts after all EPC tests are performed and test protocols for further maintenance period are established. Second, maintenance schedule should be set, all spare parts and scope of service jobs for all service intervals should be identified and pre-agreed. Third, well before the scheduled service starts and the specialists of engine/equipment manufacturer arrive on site, all spare parts should be shipped and delivered on site, checked and be ready for installation. Fourth, before the manufacturer maintenance team arrives on site, make sure that all necessary tools and consumable are ready and the equipment is prepared for the maintenance (like, engine is stopped and cooled down, oil and other media are drained, all special and hand tools are ready, local service team is available, etc.) Fifth, once the planned maintenance is performed and completed, the service report should be ready within a reasonable time, so that maintenance supervisor’s company is paid on time.
Such service reports should be studied carefully by the equipment owner, all recommendations should usually be followed and in case certain unscheduled situations occur or some extra work is required, the owner and the contractor should discuss and agree on some extra work to take care about additional technical issues.
The modern equipment we are talking about is a complex set of mechanical and electronical parts and devices and any error and negligence in performing a proper maintenance according to equipment manuals or follow the recommendation of the equipment specialists could ultimately be very costly!Those above are the basic steps and requirements and of course each step has a few smaller sub-steps and actions. For example, if the power plant owner decides to transfer the plant full operation and maintenance to the third party, usually to the engine manufacturer, then the whole plant operation and maintenance procedure becomes a full responsibility of the service provider and an even more complicated process.