Preventative Maintenance Overview

March 29, 2018

“Preventative shaker maintenance yearly…your company will thank you dearly.”

“A healthy shaker won’t meet its maker…for a really long time.”

A vibration shaker system represents a considerable investment and requires a certain level of preventative maintenance (PM) to ensure long lasting and satisfactory performance.

The management and implementation of a PM program can be a large burden for a testing lab. The good news is that with consistent PM practices your equipment should be shaking for decades.

The old proverb “for want of a nail…..the kingdom was lost” comes to mind. Even the smallest action (or inaction) can be the root cause of a disastrous problem. An accelerometer that is not properly calibrated can lead to under or over testing. Operating a shaker that needs PM can not only damage the shaker but also damage slip tables, fixtures, or customer products, leading to costly repairs and extended down time. The more pieces of the process that are out of tolerance, or near failure, the greater the effects on the overall results.

For labs that are concerned with measurement uncertainty it is even more essential to adhere to schedules. In these labs, finding that a test is outside of stated uncertainties initiates an investigation, which requires man hours and a significant amount of paperwork.  Test investigations can even invalidate previously run tests,  requiring a lab to contact its customers to discuss those tests, a situation that does not reflect well on the technician, the rest of the lab staff or the company as a whole.

Proper maintenance, calibration, and verification of each piece of equipment used in a test will avoid these problems. By investing a small amount of time up front,  the operator can ensure the validity of each test and prove that during each test the equipment being utilized was in proper working order, validating the results. This is easily done through before-and-after verification procedures.

Effective PM will also immediately notify the operator if there is anything wrong with any component of the testing system, or if something has been damaged in previous testing. Damaged equipment can then be removed from use, repaired or re-calibrated and returned to use in the most expedient manner possible. The end result is avoiding wasted time, eliminating the possibility of sending invalid results, and ensuring continued customer.

Certain repairs will, unfortunately, always be necessary. A shaker is a mechanical system and parts will fatigue, components will need to be replaced, and armatures will need to be re-wound. A mature PM program means a lab stays ahead of these repairs, maintaining testing quality and avoiding a range of potential problems.