Gas conveying and compression company Aerzen sub-Saharan Africa subsidiary Airgas Compressors has noted a significant increase in the demand for maintenance and service contracts, as well as a 300% increase in it services division in the past 14 years, Airgas Compressors assistant service manager Jochen Schmidt tells Engineering News.
The company offers field service, repairs, overhauls and maintenance contracts to the entire range of Aerzener Maschinenfabrik roots blowers and screw compressors. It also has the capability to perform vibration analysis, whereby technicians capture vibration readings, which are used to undertake condition monitoring to predict any possible failures of rotating elements, such as bearings.
Further, with advancing technology, Airgas has aligned itself with bearings manufacturer Schaeffler SA to promote and implement a vibration monitoring device called ‘smart check’, which is mounted on Airgas’s equipment and has the capabilities to capture and show live readings. These can be remotely sent to anywhere in the world through any network, which opens up future possibilities, Schmidt says.
“In light of this, the Johannesburg-based subsidiary’s future plans include establishing a services footprint with satellite service stations in Cape Town, the Western Cape and in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, as well as increasing its service capacity to its clients in Steelpoort and Rustenburg,” Schmidt says.
Airgas Compressors also plans to open a new workshop at its Nigeria branch in early March 2015, to cater for all service requirements, including field service, maintenance, repairs and overhauls.
Once the workshop is fully operational, the turnaround time on repairs and service to machinery will drastically reduce, Airgas Nigeria branch manager Emmanuel Dazi says.
“A standard overhaul, for example, can take a couple of months to complete, being the current industry standard. Having the service centre in Nigeria will reduce this to almost three weeks, which is unrivalled in the local market,” he says.
Moreover, this value-added service ensures that clients experience less downtime and remain highly competitive in a rapidly developing market, Dazi explains, noting that many local companies struggle to find legitimate after-sales service agents and spares.
He believes that the new workshop will benefit customers, as they will be able to purchase reliable Aerzen blowers and compressors, as well as receive enhanced after-sales service and spare parts according to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications.
Schmidt agrees, noting that significant contract possibilities exist in Nigeria, including a contract for the servicing and repair of six Aerzen compressors next year.
While Schmidt emphasises that good maintenance practices can reduce downtime and production losses, he also stresses that maintenance planning and effective communication between the OEM and the client play a significant role.
“If industry can plan ahead, it will simplify, as well as speed up maintenance services and procurement of spares during general maintenance,” Schmidt says.
The company can also better assist clients who adhere to the maintenance levels and requirements, as their involvement and commitment impact on the turnaround time of repairs and maintenance.
Schmidt highlights that Airgas Compressors motivates and promotes maintenance and servicing regularly, stressing the imperative of clients’ adherence to the operating manual and maintenance schedule of each machine.
He adds that the company is also amenable to engaging with clients and their suggestions on improving maintenance.
Nevertheless, while several companies implement service contracts, owing to cost-cutting exercises, they often neglect their own maintenance responsibilities, Schmidt says.