Water purification plants play an important role in public health and safety. Without them, water quality suffers, and disease-causing microorganisms and contaminants can enter the water supply, causing illness such as gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A single water purification plant may make use of multiple processes requiring various types of equipment with substantial overhead resulting from operating costs, repairs, and replacements. To that end, here are a few ways water purification plants can reduce equipment manufacturing overhead costs through maintenance management.
Given the tremendous impact on public health and safety, public water supplies, and the water purification plants that treat raw water, are heavily regulated. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), established in 1974, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to “establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards.”
To date, the EPA has set maximum contaminant levels and/or requirements for treatment techniques for more than 90 different contaminants present in public drinking water. The Clean Water Act (CWA), first established in 1948 but significantly expanded in 1972, sets wastewater standards for the industry, regulates the discharge of pollutants, and regulates quality standards for surface water. The EPA also provides recommendations for national water quality criteria for surface water pollutants and approves state-specific water quality standards for states and territories.
When water purification plants face equipment breakdowns, two things can happen:
Both outcomes are disastrous, with potential regulatory penalties, not to mention the risk to public health and safety. Maintenance management gives plant operators insight into how well equipment is functioning so performance issues can be addressed before contaminants enter the water supply, reducing regulatory risk.
Water quality and public safety isn’t the only safety benefit water purification plants gain from maintenance management: plant safety matters, too. Water purification plant workers face a variety of safety hazards, such as exposure to chemicals or harmful organisms. Water treatment plants rely on a variety of engineering controls, such as ventilation, proper labeling of pipes containing potable vs. non-potable water, and other design and operational features and controls to reduce health risks for workers.
These controls, however, do little in the interest of safety if they fail. Malfunctioning aeration equipment, leaking containment units, and many other risks can be mitigated through effective maintenance management, allowing plant operators to promptly address safety hazards before illness or injury occurs.
Maintenance management makes it possible to implement preventive maintenance programs, with maintenance activities such as tune-ups and quality checks planned at regular intervals, rather than waiting until a breakdown occurs before addressing issues.
Addressing operating concerns and equipment performance before breakdowns occur through preventive maintenance reduces the cost of repairs and maintenance. The use of barcode labels to monitor conditions and CMMS solutions streamlines the management of preventive maintenance programs.
When water treatment equipment is not functioning at optimal levels, regular operation results in greater wear and tear on equipment parts and components. Running under stressful conditions for extended periods can shorten the lifespan of equipment, meaning plant operators may be faced with replacing hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment that should have lasted another 10 years.
Preventive maintenance helps water purification plants keep treatment equipment functioning optimally and extends the usable lifespan of costly water purification and treatment equipment, meaning plants get more use out of their equipment investments before replacements are needed.
In addition to extending the useful lifespan of equipment assets, maintenance management also supports data-driven decision making when it comes to determining whether equipment should be repaired or replaced. With all maintenance activities recorded into a CMMS solution, equipment history and operational data, such as performance or output metrics, can be analyzed to estimate the remaining useful life of an asset.
If an asset is expected to remain operational for another two years, but the cost of repairs exceeds the equipment’s projected ROI, opting to replace the asset early instead of making repairs can reduce equipment overhead costs over time.
Water purification plants are essential for public health and safety, but equipment manufacturing overhead costs are substantial for plant operators. By implementing effective maintenance management, water treatment plants can reduce overhead costs while minimizing health risks and enhancing safety.