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“Breakdown maintenance” destructive, says expert

Processing plants should make control loops maintenance a higher priority to eliminate the “breakdown maintenance culture” in Australia, according to an expert.

A senior chemical engineer said Australia’s process industries should make the maintenance of control loops, especially basic PID controls, a higher priority to achieve world best practice levels in process control.

During an industry webinar in Victoria this week, Monash University chemical engineering professor, Mike Brisk, introduced the outcomes of a recent survey conducted by the National Committee on Automation Control and Instrumentation of the Electrical College of Engineers Australia, called Australian Process Industries Process Control 2005 Survey.

Speaking at the IChemE Process Management and Control Subject Group Webinar, Brisk said the survey showed that Australia’s minerals processing industries in particular are achieving significant economic benefits from the application of process control, however plant operators aren’t recognising the potential of maintenance.

According to Brisk, the industry does not appear to be showing sufficient awareness of the need to ensure the continuing health of their installed control systems.

“There may be a role (for the subject group) for increasing the knowledge and awareness of management and engineering support personnel alike to these issues,” he said.

“The process industries in Australia need to place a high priority on the need to maintain all types of control loops, and basic PID controls in particular, at peak performance. Appropriate process control health monitoring and early proactive corrective action should become the norms and a breakdown maintenance culture should not be tolerated.”

Chemical engineers from Australia, the UK and Malaysia all attend the webinar.

For more information about the IChemE Process Management and Control Subject Group, visit or contact Tanya Graham at

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