Case Study by: Ernesto Gayle, Panama Ports Company


Panama Ports Company administers two ports in the Panama Canal.  Their mission is to become a leading port in the Americas for services and logistics.   As part of the goal leading towards system-wide efficiencies there was a need to reduce maintenance costs for bearings by improving lubrication methods and reducing premature bearing failure.


New technologies for Predictive Maintenance were introduced into their ports and auxiliary services.   They included trained personnel to provide professional customer service and continued researching efficient practices throughout the company.  The engineering department incorporated  oil analysis, thermography, vibration and ultrasound.

They conducted a thorough study analyzing each component of the crane to determine the most effective maintenance methods.  They looked at types of failures, maintenance methods and other factors to identify the strengths and limitations of each technology which lead to a comprehensive approach assigning specific methods and technologies to specific areas of the equipment.  This produced a totally integrated system.  Ultrasound was used for bearing inspection and for lubrication practices. The Predictive Specialist performed inspections throughout the crane at 90-day intervals.


Using Ultrasound technology for bearing inspection on the port cranes of Balboa ports in one year demonstrated a savings of $95,000.00. In addition, targeted goals were met: maintenance costs were reduced by 50%, unexpected failures were reduced by 55%, spare inventory was reduced by 30%, MTBF was increased by 30% and machine availability was increased by 30%.