If intermittent problems go unnoticed or cannot be measured and investigated, small issues can become failures.
by Frederic Baudart
May 17, 2017

Getting Started

It is important to focus on equipment failure modes. The most expensive equipment does not always have the greatest impact. Think of how second tier equipment like pumps, compressors and valves can impact uptime and worker safety. It is more sensible for maintenance managers to prioritize plant systems based on the impact on plant capacity and availability.

Maintenance managers can then persuade company leaders to buy into condition monitoring. Equipment failures carry risks that leaders understand, such as quality issues, lowered overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) scores and potential unplanned capital expenditures. Smart technologies can also result in quick return on investment (ROI) because maintenance teams can better track equipment health without interrupting duty cycle.

Teams should infuse available maintenance technologies with wireless capabilities and monitoring. If creating a proactive, condition-based maintenance (CBM) program were simple, many plants would have implemented PM programs long ago. Most plants use a hodgepodge of test tools, software platforms and sensors. In addition, condition monitoring is often design incompatible with assets that underpin older plants.

More recent test tools have embedded Bluetooth radios, which empower the user to instantaneously save measurements to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, via a smart device.

Portable wireless sensors (for temperature, voltage or current) or modules allow technicians and engineers to leave monitoring instruments in place for extended periods of time, typically up to a month.

Teams use these sensors for both condition monitoring and troubleshooting complex system failures.

A cloud-connected software platform emphasizes both types of data-gathering practices. Teams and managers can learn from the comprehensive and meaningfully organized data sets produced by these processes. Engineers, managers and technicians can see actual equipment data to baseline, trend and analyze through the dashboards accessible on any device.

Boosting the skills and knowledge base of the entire maintenance team can add flexibility to a plant operation. Many plants are creating maintenance-specific PM programs in which each department (electrical, mechanical) has its own specific PM programs and activities, using specific inspection and monitoring technologies, such as thermal, vibration and data logging.

A centralized reliability team may stay focused on the most mission-critical assets, but the data-gathering practice has democratized, and with that, the benefits have spread to more areas of the plant.

The bottom line is that equipment data availability helps everyone.

See other Maintenance Minders articles here.