Managing Machinery Leaks - Cleaning and Prevention (Information provided by Envirosmart)
Machinery leaks can happen at any time on any given day. The majority of leaks often stem from parts such as hoses, hydraulics or pipes. This can range from an annoying drip to a disastrous flow of messy liquid resulting in loss of productivity with machinery down time.
Cleaning up a machinery leak:
1. Stop the leak from the source
Turn the machine off. If fitted turn off the isolation valve to isolate the upstream flow heading to the damaged area. Other measures may be tightening a camlock, a screw or taping around a seal. A temporary solution to stop the leak will do for now until the spill can be cleaned up and permanent repairs can take place.
2. Prevent the spill from spreading
With the machine now isolated an absorbent material or similar may be required if residual liquid needs to drain. However, preventing the liquid from spreading further is next on the list. Create a perimeter using absorbent socks or booms. You can choose to move them cautiously toward the middle of the spill reducing the amount of loose particulate absorbent or absorbent pads to take up the remaining fluid. Subsequently, the absorbent socks can remain in place until enough liquid has been taken up in the next step and are able to be removed.
3. Taking up the spill
If a larger amount of liquid remains, you may require a spill kit of some variety, depending on the spill and the location. For smaller spills. absorbent socks or booms can take up a spill quickly and are easy to retrieve. They can reach hard to get places, and may be the preferable option.
Please ensue that all spill products used are disposed of in accordance with local authority guidelines.
How to Reduce the Risk of Potential Machinery Leaks Occurring
Gone are the days when machines could be used until they broke, and then replaced. The unfortunate reality is that if time isn’t invested into training machinery operators and having consistent inspections and maintenance routines, the cost of machinery malfunctions can heavily impact the bottom line of a business in competitive markets.
Below are a few tips that will potentially reduce the risk of a machinery spill.
1. Train your machinery operators
Although training will happen when a machine is purchased or a new staff member is employed, this should be seen as the start of training - not the completion! Invest in scheduled refresh training over the course of every year or so, covering everything from operation, inspections, maintenance, cleaning and breakdowns. Operators can come and go, skills can get rusty and complacency can settle in. Staff that are encouraged with quality refresh training can often develop the ability to detect faults before they become an expensive breakdown and are more likely to perform at a higher consistent level.
2. Check lubricants frequently
Lubricants play an important roll to ensure a machine operates safely and at optimum level. For example:
- Is the right lubricant being used?
- Is there enough lubricant being used or signs of too much?
- Look for build-up of oil or grease
- Check for leaks or moisture arounds seals.
- Always refer to the manufacturer's manual if you are uncertain for specific recommendations
3. Clean the Machinery
A routine cleaning schedule should be mandatory and allows an operator an opportunity to inspect the machine. Depending on the sensitivity of the machine it may be able to be blown with compressed air, vacuumed, washed or wiped down. Cleaning ensures working parts can operate efficiently and for some machinery can lower the risk of fire.
4. Periodical scheduled maintenance, repair and record keeping
A thorough checklist ensuring key components throughout the machinery are inspected routinely is all part of a preventive maintenance plan in between scheduled servicing. Identifying worn parts before they break can potentially save thousands of dollars in downtime with an inoperable machine and ensures the machinery can operate at the safest level. All inspections should be recorded for historical records as with fault reporting and documentation of breakdowns.
Consistent machinery inspections, maintenance and training will certainly extend the life of machinery and reduce the risk of breakdowns and leaks. However, there is an old saying that says “Expect the best and plan for the worst”. We all know spills happen anytime and anywhere, so you should still endeavour to prepare for if there is a spill.