What is an inspection?
As a key component of a maintenance program, inspections include tasks that check the condition of equipment and determine what tools, materials, and labor are required to service them.
Just about every plant or facility must conduct regular inspections as part of its overall maintenance program. Electrical systems, mechanical systems, and instrumentation components must be checked and subsequently serviced.
Ideally, inspections are scheduled, completed on time, and documented with a CMMS or similar maintenance software. With the advanced technology available today, mobile devices can make the inspection process simple and efficient. Handheld tools can provide step-by-step instructions as well as an easy way to record sensory observations and test results.
Many inspections must be conducted while a production line is running or equipment is operating. Inspections cannot interrupt manufacturing or production processes, and many pieces of machinery cannot be checked adequately without seeing them in action.
- The best maintenance inspection programs include the following best practices:
- Condition-monitoring routes cover all needed inspections
- Simple inspection tools including a stroboscope, bright flashlight, infrared thermometer, vibration pen, mirrors, and industrial stethoscope are readily available
- Guards or other protective gear can be removed in order to check belts, couplings, and chains in action
- Oil containers and other clear gauges and base bolts are clean and facilitate accurate inspections
- Maintenance staff is educated and trained in basic inspection processes
Types of maintenance inspections
- Safety inspections: Safety inspections can include everything from checking and restocking first aid kids to inspecting fall protection and harness equipment. It can also include checking those components of machinery and equipment that are critical for safe operation.
- Failure finding inspections: These inspections check the operation of back-up or protective devices that cannot be readily checked unless a primary system fails. Failure instances must be simulated to test these components of equipment or machinery.
- Lighting inspections: Bulbs should be checked regularly and replaced in a group when they begin to fail for efficiency. In addition, a technician should examine controls, filters, and baffles on transformer systems as well as cables, hardware, and gaskets on exterior lights.
- Electrical inspections: Begin with simple battery replacement in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as flashlights and testing equipment. Timers and photocells should be inspected and exhaust fans should be cleaned regularly.
- HVAC Inspections: Air intake, filers, motors, and ductwork should be inspected and cleaned regularly. Technicians should check drainage functioning of condensation pans and secure loose panels, guards, and hardware. Safety equipment and controls should also be checked.
- Building interior inspections: Check walls, ceilings, and floors for damage, leaks, or other deterioration. Be sure to remove hazards and ensure proper operation of doors and locks. Restroom areas should be inspected for problems, and alarms should be tested.
- Building exterior inspections: Check paint, walls, windows, and doors for damage regularly as well as any foliage that may damage the walls or foundation. Inspect the roof, drains, and gutters. Inspect sidewalks, driveways, and railings for hazards and damage. The overall campus should be inspected for debris as well as outdoor hazards like fallen branches.
- Plumbing inspection: This system should be checked at least once a year for leaks, noises, and damage. Water boosters, water chillers, condenser fans, and circulation pumps must be lubricated, and water boilers and heaters should be fire-tested. Sewage and sump pumps should be inspected regularly and replaced as needed.
Example of a maintenance inspection
During the warmest months of the year, cooling systems must work overtime. Before the mercury rises, technicians conduct a thorough inspection of a facility’s cooling system.
They begin by checking the bearings of the condenser motor for noise and vibrations. They also inspect the air intake and discharge components, as well as the condition of insulation and refrigerant piping. Guards and access panels are inspected for security, too.
Maintenance inspections should also include an inspection of compressed air lines to ensure there are no leaks in tubing or around fittings. Technicians should check and change or clean filters as needed.
Inspections are often supplemented with maintenance checklists that are provided to technicians in paper form or within a CMMS. If the latter option is used, work orders can be automatically triggered when a checklist item is marked as “flagged” or “failed.”