Oil Spill Response Equipment: Is Maintenance a Challenge?


For the operators and owners of oil spill pollution equipment there are a number of factors to consider if a reliable response is to be achieved. Pollution control equipment is often stored for long periods of time without being required. Then suddenly it is required to operate continuously in all conditions for extensive periods, this is a very tall order for any item of machinery or equipment.

A number of factors must be consider to ensure that equipment will work in the field when responding to an oil spill, these range from ensuring that the equipment is well designed and tested, that it is used by trained operators and that the equipment has been well maintained.

Equipment Challenges

The conditions in which oil spill equipment is required to operate vary considerably when you take into consideration oil types, local circumstances, sea states, etc. To link these requirements together, a comprehensive planned maintenance system is necessary to ensure that the training of personnel and maintenance of the equipment is coordinated and executed in a cost effective manner.

Types of Maintenance

Assuming that emergency response equipment is fundamentally sound for its purpose. decisions need to be made on types of maintenance to be carried out. Requirements for pollution equipment are totally different from the majority of operations normally requiring maintenance. Failures tend to result from a lack of use of equipment rather that over-use, and it is important that the maintenance procedures take this into account.

There are a number of forms of maintenance to be carried out;

  • Calendar Inspections this is when equipment is inspected and certain routines are carried out on a fixed time schedule i.e weekly, monthly, yearly.

  • Equipment running hours as certain running hours are reached the equipment maintenance routines are activated.

  • Equipment Breakdown this is when equipment is repaired as defects are reported.

  • Condition Monitoring this is when measurements are made on the equipment at regular intervals to ensure that it remains within designed criteria.

Maintenance Personnel

When planning maintenance requirements it is important to consider the personnel who will be used to carry out the maintenance routines. Unlike most other items for maintenance, oil pollution control equipment will be placed back on the shelf until the next time it is due for inspection. There is not very much job satisfaction in this and after time it is likely that the potentially well designed maintenance procedures will not be carried out satisfactorily, unless good supervision is exercised.

Overcoming Maintenance Challenges

Equipment must be maintained to ensure it is in a state of readiness, this includes packaging, documentation and spares. A factor that has been firmly established is that no matter how reliable the equipment may be, it will be proven useless unless a good reliable trained operators are maintaining this equipment.

A computerized maintenance system can be of considerable help in the planning of the workload. Oils spills are anything but planned and as a consequence maintenance routines are continually having to be updated. Which is a considerable undertakin to track manually. With the use of a software solution, information on equipment can be presented in detail and analysis can be conducted on hours worked, maintenance hours, frequency of equipment failures.

We're always interested in anything that aids responders in improving your capabilities. Being able to easily manage and track your equipment maintenance is one of the reasons we created [D4H] Technologies designed especially for response team equipment.

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