Modern continuous monitoring technologies are streamlining maintenance programs and improving plant operations.
by Jeff Sullivan
March 31, 2016

To illustrate, a doctor may check a patient's blood pressure once a year at an annual physical. These checkups will indicate if the patient's blood pressure has gone up or down since the last visit. But it cannot tell how that person's blood pressure reacts to major impactful moments, such as stress at work or personal challenges. Checking blood pressure once a year can reveal if a major problem is present, but it cannot point to the hidden damages that could be happening throughout the day or week.

Much like the personal health industry, plant managers can use smart pumping and the IoT to aid in equipment health maintenance. Typically, every four to eight weeks, a contracted vibration analyst will gather a detailed resolution reading of a plant's equipment, but this leaves a gap in equipment monitoring. These checks can generally tell when something is beginning to go wrong or is wrong at the moment, but they do not offer a continuous record of performance. With these new and innovative pump monitoring devices, plant managers can perform simple, daily equipment checks and stay informed about their machine health between checkups from a specialist.

This evolution is not measured by how many sensors a plant can package in a single device but by how intuitive, meaningful and actionable the data is. Monitoring technology can offer records of performance curves, technical data and bill of materials. If and when an equipment failure occurs, a plant manager can evaluate the data tracked through a monitoring device, look at the time of failure and determine the root cause of the problem. Using these data trends long term can enable users to prioritize pieces of equipment and call a specialist when the equipment health monitor alerts of an issue.

What Does the Future Hold?

By making operations safer, faster and more efficient, data trends taken from smart pumping systems can be used for further industry growth. As the IoT expands in every industry, a clear shift in the way businesses are transacted and services are provided will occur. From streaming music to making travel reservations online to arranging a ride through an app, many industries are shifting to a mobile user experience. As these technologies develop, the pump industry must recognize a shift in the traditional service model and rise to these technological advances.

Any successful maintenance program requires several layers of support, including top-level management, reliability, maintenance, engineering and operations.

As the industry begins to experience a large turnover of highly skilled and knowledgeable talent, the IoT can help fill the skills gap created by personnel leaving the plant.

Intuitive, actionable information from equipment health monitors can be used to help buffer the influx of workers who may not know the industry as well as seasoned professionals. The pump industry can leverage this emerging technology to ease that transition. With more time available after streamlining inspection and maintenance practices, industrial plants can incorporate more innovative pumping solutions to move the industry even further forward.

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