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The 3 Ps of Oilfield Equipment Maintenance: Predictive, Preventative and Proactive

Imagine a beautiful classic car, say a 1966 Mustang that was once the pride of its owner.  Now, imagine the car has been sitting in an open field, subject to the elements, unused for years.  That beautiful machine that ruled the streets is now a rusting, dust-covered slab of metal, unable to start, corroding away the gaskets, belts, gears and power train that back in its day made it so proud.

You wouldn’t expect to hop in, turn the key, and have it run as it did before.  And you wouldn’t be able to take it apart and use its parts to fit into a new 2016 Mustang either.

A similar scenario is taking place in the oil and gas industry today.  Motors and generators once powering rigs are now cold stacked and fighting harsh sandy, hot and wet weather conditions, putting their future usability and safety in jeopardy when the market eventually turns up again. And if history is our guide, it will turn quickly and that equipment will be needed immediately.

Additionally, many stacked rig motors and generators are being poached for use on working rigs. When equipment goes down, it is left unattended in equipment boneyards—broken, soon to be at the mercy of the elements, and in serious need of maintenance and repair.

This points to the critical importance of the 3 Ps of maintenance: preventative, predictive and proactive.

Ward Leonard, a 120 year old industrial technology and service solutions company, offers a range of equipment maintenance programs that can prevent legacy oil patch equipment from ending up like a rusting Mustang.

While the price of oil is still lower than a couple of years ago, it’s been on the rise this year, allowing some companies to return to their fields. As of Wednesday, July 20, the active rig count was up 10% in the last 5 weeks to 447—and that means people and equipment are getting back to work–and putting equipment back to work can pose real challenges when it has been sitting stagnant.

“We’ve seen quite a few occasions where unused, stacked equipment is being stripped for parts to keep other existing equipment running,” said Roy Corbitt, Operations Manager for Ward Leonard.  “This can create huge safety issues if the parts weren’t the exact specification as the original, or if they have been run to failure.  Fortunately, our customers don’t have that problem if they’re using our preventive and predictive maintenance programs.

Two programs offered by Ward Leonard are recognized within the industry as among the most comprehensive maintenance programs available:  Ward Leonard MotorCare ™ and Ward Leonard GeneratorCare ™. Each provides the all-inclusive maintenance and repair processes necessary to keep equipment and rigs up and running at peak efficiency and capacity.

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Ward Leonard MotorCare ™ and Ward Leonard GeneratorCare ™ are maintenance programs designed to lower equipment lifecycle costs and avoid unnecessary problems before they happen– or even eliminate them from happening at all.

Maintenance can be very complex if not addressed from the get-go.  But what are the real differences between predictive, preventative and reactive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance involves testing the critical parts of the machinery on a regular basis.  Think of predictive maintenance as having a “check engine” light.  It is designed to help determine the condition of in-service equipment in order to predict when maintenance should be performed. The “predictive” component stems from the goal of predicting the future trend of the oilfield equipment’s condition. This approach uses principles of statistical process control to determine at what point in the future maintenance activities will be appropriate.  Vintage 1966 Mustangs didn’t have the technology that today’s cars have to alert the driver when things need attention.

Preventative maintenance, just like on the Mustang, prevents problems from happening in the first place by taking action before things happen.  Just as you would change the oil and fluids regularly on a classic car, oilfield equipment needs the same TLC.  Ward Leonard knows from its many years of experience what parts are most likely to be subject to failure, and which ones need attention on a regular basis.  The operative part of “preventative” maintenance is focusing on the word “prevent.”

Proactive maintenance is the umbrella under which the other two categories fall.  It is a maintenance strategy for stabilizing the reliability of your oilfield equipment and takes place before anything happens, as opposed to reactive maintenance, which would be similar to trying to figure out why that big puddle of oil suddenly appeared under your Mustang.

Reactive maintenance is just what it sounds like—you wait until something big happens, and react after the fact—a move that usually comes with a hefty price tag. Predictive and preventative maintenance, on the other hand, are tied to three things that operators care a lot about: safety, cost and reliability.

“In oil and gas, two things are paramount to operations: safety before anything else, and keeping costs in line,” said Corbitt. “We’re different than most service-related companies because we focus on both of these items.  Safety is and always has been part of our mission and values from day one.  Our predictive and preventative maintenance programs are designed to lower equipment lifecycle costs and avoid unnecessary problems before they happen– or even eliminate them from happening at all.  Downtime is extremely expensive and can cost operators well above $50,000 a day.  Should an event happen, our ability to respond to customers anywhere in the world keeps downtime to a minimum and reduces their total operating expense (OPEX) costs to levels they hadn’t imagined.”

One critical factor that helps companies with their bottom line is the fact that Ward Leonard offers single source motor and generator maintenance, repair and service capabilities, eliminating the need for customers to have multiple companies involved, and the inherent invoicing, paperwork and time that goes with it.  By using one vendor for all things motor and generator related, the savings to the customer can be immense.  And if all those people working for that vendor are equally trained in safety as well as in maintenance operations as they are at Ward Leonard, the chance of incidents are greatly reduced, if not eliminated completely.

“Another service we offer, and one which has come in very handy as producers ramp up operations again, is our asset storage and maintenance program,” said Corbitt.  “We have climate-controlled state-of-the-art warehouse facilities where customers can store their equipment when it is not being used.  Everything from simple spare parts to full generator sets.  And we provide maintenance for the equipment while it is being housed so when it is ultimately needed in the field, it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.  For example, shafts needs to be rotated once a month to prevent flattening of rolling elements in bearings. We do that and much more.”

Ward Leonard MotorCare and GeneratorCare are the oil industry’s only fully comprehensive programs that are customized to match each customer’s specific requirements. From strategic analysis and planning to rewinds, reconditions, balancing, alignments, load testing and 24/7 on call field service, Ward Leonard customers utilize only what they need. Whether it’s for one or over a hundred motors and generators at one or many locations, Ward Leonard has the solution.

“Generators and motors that are broken mean lost revenue for our customers,” continued Corbitt.  “By utilizing our maintenance programs, equipment is less likely to fail, giving it a much longer lifespan and of course, saving the customer money on the front and back end. Better maintained equipment means less new equipment to purchase, which is a capital expense (CAPEX) cost… and the longer equipment lasts between service, the less OPEX costs there are as well.  I can’t think of any other company that offers a maintenance programs that are as responsive, thorough and as focused on bottom line costs and safety as ours.”

When you call Ward Leonard, you can rest assured they’ll be there quickly, safely, and ready to provide solutions to whatever problem you may have.

Just don’t expect them to show up in a 1966 Mustang.

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