Creating a Watertight Engineering Maintenance Plan

7 October 2020 By Sam Wheaton
Maintenance plans

You’d be hard-pressed to find an engineer who hasn’t jumped from one breakdown to another, or who doesn’t prioritize “putting out fires” (so to speak) over staying on top of routine checks and inspections. Maintenance plans take the guesswork out of remembering where you left off and lets you spread your time across all equipment on board.

Manufacturers (or OEMs) provide a list of periodic tasks that should be performed in order to inspect or replace these internal components so that the lifecycle of a component can be extended. This by definition is planned maintenance. How these tasks come together and are arranged is known as a maintenance plan.

When we put together maintenance plans for engineers, consideration is always given to how many engineers are available on board, the age of the vessel, and how the yacht is ultimately used (e.g. private, charter, light use, heavy use, for sale).

A good maintenance plan will factor in the best time to access guest areas and understand when a yacht is most likely to be at the dock with access to specialized contractors. There are two philosophies we generally see when it comes to structuring a maintenance plan.

  1. Completing tasks one system at a time. Simply look at one system at a time, inspecting/servicing all components related to that system (i.e. air-conditioning system). This method is a great way to get a feel for how the system is working as a whole and to see how each component impacts the other.
  2. Completing tasks one area at a time. This method sets up tasks so that an engineer works through the vessel systematically — all areas are worked on over a period of time.

As a result, the engineer is guaranteed to be inside each area of the vessel over the duration of a maintenance cycle — which can be over a month or even two months depending on the vessel size. On the other hand, this can mean weeks pass between inspections of certain areas, which can pose the risk of not catching an issue as it is unfolding.

If you’re looking at building your own maintenance plan, here are a few tips:

  • Get an overall view of the recommended planned maintenance tasks for all equipment on board.
  • Pick a strategy: Does your program lend itself to a maintenance plan that’s based on inspecting one area at a time or one system at a time?
  • Add detail: Include specific descriptions of what needs to be done as part of each task. This means that each time an inspection or service takes place, there will be consistency.
  • Customize: A manufacturer may suggest a monthly inspection, but if you’re more comfortable with a bi-monthly inspection, change it. Likewise, if a monthly inspection isn’t practical or possible, change it. A good maintenance plan is one that is achievable.

This article originally ran in the October 2020 issue of Dockwalk.

Sam Wheaton is the director of Seahub – Yacht Maintenance Software. Seahub’s award-winning Planned Maintenance Software is designed specifically for the superyacht industry.


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