In early June a wind turbine caught fire in Iowa. The fire caused the blades to disconnect and fall to the ground. While the cause of the fire was still unknown at the time of this post, it looks like mechanical failure is to blame. The fire started in the nacelle of the turbine, which is where the generator and equipment is housed.

While we don’t know for sure what caused the fire, if the turbine had undergone recent repairs, or what its inspection schedule looked like, the incident is a stark reminder that routine machinery inspections are a necessary part of doing business.

Head Off Problems Before They Start

Routine inspections and regular maintenance can help prevent large-scale disasters, but just as importantly, they help prevent small problems from becoming big problems. Not only are smaller problems faster and easier to resolve, they’re often cheaper too.

A routine maintenance program will keep you informed of the overall health and performance of your machinery. You will be able to track which pieces are racking up more and more downtime or requiring repairs more frequently. Use this information to help plan out a replacement timeframe and develop your capital equipment budgets.

As you begin to invest more and more time and money into maintaining old equipment, eventually the costs will outweigh the benefits and you will have a solid case for selling old equipment and purchasing new.

Is It Time To Revisit Your Maintenance Plan?

When was the last time your maintenance program was revised? Do you even have a plan in place? Developing an equipment maintenance plan (EMP) takes work at the outset, but once the plan has been developed, it simplifies processes and procedures and reduces your business’ risk exposure.

EMPs don’t have to be complex. At their most basic, EMPs are simple tables that list the piece of equipment and its’ routine maintenance tasks. You’ll also want to include the frequency of each task and if any special tools or considerations are required to perform the task. Special considerations might be whether the unit must be shut down or if it remains running during the task. More complex EMPs include the amount of time spent on each task so you can track how much time you are devoting to maintenance.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation where a piece of equipment catches fire and is destroyed like the wind turbine in Iowa, but if you do, a look back at your maintenance plan can help prove to insurance adjusters that you were doing everything possible to avoid such a catastrophe.