As an end-user, how do you know your critical power system is operating optimally? Unified Power, a mission critical power service provider, performs routine preventive maintenance procedures for these systems so that BOTH the end-user and our service organization can become familiarized with the operational health of those systems on a routine basis.
Have you ever wondered why a routine oil and filter replacement for your vehicle typically includes a 15-30 point inspection, as well? These additional inspection points are performed for the very same reason your UPS or DC power system requires routine inspections—to identify and notate operational parameters and to make proactive suggestions for remediation should those inspection points reveal deficient operations.
In the critical power industry, what specifically is inferred by the term preventive maintenance? By its literal definition, preventive maintenance is performed simply to ensure the mitigation of risk. In the most rudimentary context, preventive maintenance is simply risk management. The physical examinations your primary care providers administer are preventive maintenance procedures performed for the human body—same concept…risk management.
Furthermore, how do you know your preventive maintenance is effective? Preventive maintenance prognoses may reveal nothing or alternatively, they may reveal everything. Optimistically, an end-user can always hope for a clean bill of health afterwards. More times than not however, critical power systems are subject to real world scenarios in which normal wear and tear can be anticipated routinely. Aged or worn components can and should be replaced, and identifying these “risks” is again, the primary mission of an effective preventive maintenance evolution.
Make no mistake—preventive maintenance isn’t simply a fact-finding mission either. Part of risk mitigation is proactivity, as well. Recommending additional heat rejection in a warm room, even through an appropriately staged fan directed at a UPS battery cabinet, can have lasting effects and minimize system degradation until an adequate permanent solution can be implemented. Consolidating faulty batteries to a single string in a multiple string platform can create a manageable situation from an otherwise critical one. These value-added practices, identified and performed during routine preventive maintenance evolutions, are the difference between proactivity and reactivity. In a customer’s eyes, this equates simply to the difference between uptime and downtime—a metric by which all business practices can be measured.
The collection and recordation of data is not to be discounted, but what we do with this data is far superior to the collection and recordation of the data alone. As field service engineers, we serve as the first level of interpretation of that data. Using industry knowledge and trending statistics, we can make educated, informed recommendations and decisions while onsite that result in a better operating system upon departure than prior to arrival. In the circumstances where remedial action is required, recommendations based upon data analysis are paramount.
So, how effective was your last preventive maintenance visit? Outlined below are nine fundamental guidelines that, if executed, will surely lead to a successful outcome:
1. Be Punctual, Prepared & Professional. To begin, we should be on time and fully equipped. Our workspace should remain neat and organized while engaged. A sloppy workspace gives the perception of nonchalance and lackadaisicalness. Good housekeeping practices are never underappreciated and are directly attributable to our level of professionalism.
2. Clearly Explain Your Purpose. The entire evolution should begin with an introduction and overview of the purpose for the visit with the customer or end-user. Knowledge is concern alleviating. Chances are your customer is aware that you are visiting, but knowing specifically why you are visiting tends to be more comforting. Remember, we have to assume the customer’s business operations are in our hands during these procedures.
3. Follow Procedures And Document Results. Procedures performed should be uniform and documented. Elaboration is imperative for findings that are outside normally expected results. If output current is imbalanced across the three phases of a UPS system, a recommendation should be made to the customer to balance the system’s loading, as well as an explanation of the importance of this recommendation. This is proactive. Always explain why. Remember, our job is to be the subject matter expert so our customers can focus on their core business practices.
4. Go The Extra Mile. Value-added steps are not only typically risk-mitigating, but also key drivers of a customer’s trust and comfort level. These steps, although not typically required during a routine preventive maintenance, are the foundations for a lasting fruitful relationship. These are the bullet points our customers will remember when contract renewal times approach. Furthermore, mitigating risk while onsite during a routine preventive maintenance evolution is proactive while doing the same during a 3 AM emergency service request dispatch is reactive.
5. Data Analysis, Not Data Logging. Capture, record and most importantly, analyze your data. The results of a preventive maintenance should be determined by the field service engineer prior to departure and not by a manager reviewing the report. The manager’s job is to concur and elaborate, if necessary, but not to make initial deductions.
6. Customer Engagement. Offer to teach the customers something about the critical power systems they own. This concept corroborates the knowledge theory. Most customers may not be interested, but the ones that are will always remember you took the time to show them something that may prove invaluable in the future.
7. Explain Your Results And Offer Proactive Recommendations. Upon completion, synopsize your results with the customer. Explain anomalies and make proactive recommendations. Answer questions and offer solutions. Our level of service doesn’t end when we walk offsite. Our customers NEED to know we have their backs even after we have concluded our preventive maintenance procedures onsite.
8. Leave A Business Card. This is your post-service direct personal connection to your customers. Don’t leave one ONLY with the customer; leave one with the system. Tape your business card conspicuously to the system’s outer panel so that it may continuously serve as a “Unified Power Was Here” reminder to all who pass by the system on a daily basis. Additionally, attaching a business card to the system will help ensure it does not get lost.
9. Follow Up. If (and when) you offer recommendations for additional services, follow up with your customers to ensure they have everything needed to make an informed decision. Don’t be overly aggressive, but don’t be utterly passive either. Preventive maintenance is important, but so is our post-service support.
By following (and exceeding) these guidelines as a field service engineer and anticipating and insisting upon them as our customer, we can ensure a positive, proactive experience that is results-driven. When was the last time your system received preventive maintenance?