Good preventive maintenance keeps terminals running

A WELL-DESIGNED maintenance program plays a critical role in ensuring that a storage terminal runs safely and efficiently. Two speakers addressed terminal maintenance issues during the International Liquid Terminals Association’s 2014 International Operating Conference June 2-3 in Houston, Texas.

Lori Pavlish, who is responsible for Dow Chemical’s global supply chain environmental, health, safety, and security program, delivered a presentation on “Evaluating your terminal’s preventive maintenance program.” Brad Wood, executive vice-president Juran Global discussed “Trends in terminal maintenance efficiency and effectiveness.”

Pavlish explained that Dow Chemical has a strong interest in storage terminal maintenance programs. “We must be able to evaluate a facility’s ability to store and handle all stored products safely and security whether the facility operates one tank or hundreds,” she said. “A comprehensive preventive maintenance program is one of the critical components to each facility’s success in the storage and handling of products without causing harm to personnel or the environment.”

Well-designed and executed preventive maintenance programs pay multiple dividends. Terminals will see increased reliability of equipment and operations. Downtime is reduced and shipment efficiency can be increased. Preventive maintenance better assures that maintenance is done consistently and can be a critical layer of protection against major process events. Critical equipment is identified and prioritized for inspection and repair.

Procedures should be in place to enable a comprehensive test and inspection of the entire terminal system, as well as individual subcomponents. It is also important to make sure that replacement systems and parts are readily available, especially critical items.

Tank overfill protection systems should be a focal point for the preventive maintenance program. Overfill protection should be tested periodically to identify and correct faults Periodic testing should include provisions to demonstrate that failure of storage tank overfill protection will not result in loss of containment.

Preventive maintenance programs must include equipment and controls which ensure that the receiving tank has ultimate control of filling operations. Communications systems should be checked regularly to ensure that they are operating properly.

Periodic inspections are needed for manual isolation valves and headers on tanks. Dikes should be included in every preventive maintenance program. Facility drainage needs to be inspected regularly.

Pump seals and filter housings need more preventive maintenance attention, according to Pavlish. “Could product backflow from a storage tank due to failure of an improperly installed gasket or seal on a pump or filter housing?” she asked.

Periodic internal audits are needed to ensure that preventive maintenance is performed according to plan. In addition, PM program inspections should be reviewed to identify equipment and system failure trends and to prevent repetitive events.

Wood said that benchmarking is an effective way to evaluate a terminal maintenance program. He described a Juran Global study of terminal maintenance trends over the past 10 years.

It shows that average terminal maintenance costs plateaued until 2008 but are now increasing. At the same time, average maintenance manpower time dropped from 2004 to 2007 but has now leveled out. Average maintenance manpower costs per hour have been rising steadily since 2010.

“We believe this is an indication that storage terminal operators are realizing the need to invest more in maintenance,” Wood says. “The manpower reduction in the maintenance sector is actually lower than the manpower reduction in operations.”

The study also showed that experienced maintenance personnel are becoming harder to find even as there is more demand for these people. Maintenance manpower outsourcing has increased 30% since 2007.

With maintenance getting more attention, unplanned downtime has fallen for storage terminals. However, the cost of the preventive maintenance that helps avoid terminal downtime has increased 50% over the time the Juran Global study was done.   ♦

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