Supporting Maintenance and Mandatory Inspections Through Digital Technologies on Lifting Equipment

Supporting Maintenance and Mandatory Inspections Through Digital Technologies on Lifting Equipment

Maria Grazia Gnoni (University of Salento, Italy), Valerio Elia (University of Salento, Italy), Sara Anastasi (Department of Technological Innovation and Safety Equipment, Products and Anthropic Settlements, Italian Workers' Compensation Authority (INAIL), Rome, Italy) and Luigi Monica (Department of Technological Innovation and Safety Equipment, Products and Anthropic Settlements, Italian Workers' Compensation Authority (INAIL), Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3904-0.ch015

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors present a critical analysis about the current maintenance and inspection process carried out on hazardous lifting equipment. In Italy, a mandatory audit schema is working requesting a periodic interaction between owners of the lifting equipment and inspectors. The current condition has been analyzed aiming to evaluate potential points of criticalities. A smart platform integrating physical devices—based on internet of things technologies, mobile, and cloud applications—has been developed in order to provide companies and inspectors with a reliable and modular tool to organize, certify, and trace maintenance activities developed on the specific equipment. The final purpose is to guarantee a high level of safety for this type of hazardous equipment.
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Background

Maintenance of hazardous equipment represents a complex task as this process is strictly connected to the overall safety level of this component. By adopting a preventive maintenance policy, equipment is maintained on a schedule over time using inspections, calibrations, repairs and other regular service checks to reduce the chances of failure in the future. Otherwise, predictive maintenance relies on installed or embedded devices to monitor a machine’s actual condition. Regular (preventive and/or predictive) maintenance of equipment – especially hazardous ones - is an essential activity to both provide company productivity as well as machine and worker safety. Insufficient/inadequate maintenance can cause serious (and potentially deadly) accidents or health problems. Among several typologies of equipment normally used in a company, one category is currently characterized by a high level of risk (Jannadi and Bu-Khamsin, 2002): lifting equipment. Lifting equipment includes a wide range of equipment – which are characterized by several different components- from loader cranes, mobile cranes, forklifts, mobile elevating platforms, to winches and, hoists. First of all, this equipment is wide spread in several sectors as they are flexible and adaptable tools for handling products as well as moving workers: thus, they are used in different workplaces from construction sites to industrial facilities. As they are easily transferable based on their specific feature, they could move from one workplace to another one as they are rented by different companies or they are used in different locations of the same companies. This condition determines an uncertainty in the actual level of use of the equipment as they could work under different organizational and environmental conditions. Furthermore, based on injuries data, these types of equipment represent nowadays a relevant source of hazard at workplace (Aneziris et al, 2008, Raviv et al, 2017). Historical data (Shepperd et al., 2000; Anastasi et al., 2018) often describe how the improper use of heavy equipment has been the cause of fatal or serious accidents.

Finally, the number of components and accessories in a lifting equipment is usually high and a standardization is not often applied. Thus, evaluating the actual condition of a lifting equipment is usually a complex task involving both maintenance and safety issues. In order to reduce hazards due to the use of this equipment, several national legislations have defined a mandatory audit schemes aiming that all work equipment be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient order and in good repair. The Italian scheme is based on the integration of preventive and predictive maintenance policies for evaluating the actual condition of the equipment: fixed frequencies of controls, visual inspections, tests and an examination of the documentation certifying the developed activities are the basic pillars of this schema. The type and frequencies of the checks to be performed are indicated in the instructions provided by the equipment manufacturer. The mandatory schema requires that all these interventions are reported in a special register (the so called control registry) aiming to provide a reliable evidence of the check developed during the use phase as well as providing the actual “picture” of the equipment status. Therefore, employer must organize internal maintenance activities in order to guarantee the safety of their equipment and at the same time provide information on this process to public/private inspectors during periodic checks. Currently, the audit process is developed through a paper-based system. Several criticalities could be outlined by analyzing historical experience in inspection and maintenance of hazardous lifting equipment which falls under a mandatory audit schema.

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