In the pre-pandemic world, a customary (and ill-advised) practice for many facilities was to disregard critical spare parts lists and order replacements for failed parts only as needed. They gambled on being able to locate the parts somewhere and were willing to pay a bit extra to have them expedited if need be.
Now, it seems, the chickens are coming home to roost. With supply chain shortages that
aren’t expected to ease until at least mid-2022, and manufacturers and suppliers unable to accommodate requests for expedited shipment even for their best customers, many businesses are paying an extremely high price for neglecting to keep an inventory of critical spare parts.
Case in point: two failed rupture discs recently shut down process systems at a northern New Jersey chemical plant. No spares had been kept on hand at the facility and replacements were nowhere to be found. The manufacturer offered two options: either wait 6-8 weeks
for new discs to be produced and shipped, or pay an additional fee of $950 per part to modify a similar pair of in-stock rupture discs to work with the plant’s process system. Unable to wait, plant operators opted for the latter and wound up paying more than triple the normal cost for the parts. Stories like this are commonplace and almost entirely preventable had critical spare parts been kept on hand.
Omni’s advice to facility operators who can’t afford prolonged disruptions, exorbitant expediting fees, or dubious workarounds is this: have knowledgeable facilities personnel scrutinize systems and equipment for single points of failure, compile a list of critical spare parts if one doesn’t already exist, and order parts that are lacking now. These can include starter coils and overloads, critical VFDs, fuses, temperature and pressure sensors, floats for pumps, terminal blocks, solenoids, UPS batteries, HMIs, valve actuators for limit switches – the list goes on, and most of aren’t terribly expensive. Consider purchasing used or reconditioned from a reputable supplier.
While it’s possible you won’t need these parts any time soon, you’ll certainly find they’re worth their weight in gold if you do.
Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc., located in New Jersey and Maryland, is a premier instrumentation and electrical contractor, providing superior total care solutions since 1986. Services include instrument installation, tubing installation, instrument calibration, control loop testing, startup and commissioning, power and lighting, process control wiring, BMS wiring, telecommunications and data wiring, fire alarm wiring, security wiring, process network wiring, and control panel fabrication. Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc., is certified in Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus, DeviceNet and ASI-Bus installation.