PUB hoping to predict equipment failure

SINGAPORE - Singapore's water supply system is getting an upgrade in its maintenance regime.

National water agency PUB is relooking the way it looks after equipment for the network such as electric pumps and motors, hoping to predict and tackle problems even before they happen.

Currently, its officers carry out monthly inspections. They also remotely monitor the equipment by tracking various measurements such as temperature and water flow. A maintenance crew is sent out when readings are abnormal or faults are detected.

The PUB wants to move towards a predictive computer system that triggers alerts when potential faults are flagged, for instance when the equipment runs for more than a pre-determined number of hours.

This maintenance regime, called "reliability-centred maintenance", is widely used in other industries such as the airline and automotive businesses, where equipment failure can have disastrous results. The system is expected to be implemented next year, according to a document the PUB posted on government website Gebiz.

When asked, a PUB spokesman said the new regime will improve the reliability and productivity of its maintenance work.

A key component of the new system is a process called "failure mode analysis".

This sets out the potential ways a piece of equipment can fail, either through age, random events or other causes.

The safety, environmental and financial consequences of failures are also defined, including the time and cost needed to fix them.

"Through the failure mode analysis, we are able to pre-empt equipment failure, and can tailor our maintenance regime to mitigate the different failure modes," said the PUB spokesman.

"Through these actions, major equipment failures can be avoided, downtime of the equipment is reduced and high cost for emergency repairs can be averted."

The new system will not require any additional hardware except for servers and tablets to access it.

According to the Gebiz document, the agency will use the system for the maintenance of all mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, control and automation equipment in the water supply network at first.

Other assets in the network will be included in future.

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