As new technology emerges, asset downtime is falling

As new technology emerges, asset downtime is falling

All too often, plant asset managers take an outdated, risky and inefficient approach to facilities management that fails to include some of the best breakthroughs in plant maintenance technology, advancements that have trimmed downtime significantly and driven profits higher. 

According to the International Society of Automation, many facilities still take a run-to-fail approach that require workers to monitor human machine interfaces (HMI) to determine when maintenance is needed while other managers focus on calendar-based maintenance management programs. However, this method is no longer seen as an acceptable strategy by many plant managers, who are now embarking on a journey to increased uptime, despite the many challenges that come with that. 

Facilities can now benefit from huge amounts of new data that can provide transparency into operations and the real-time health of a production assets. Still, the workforce may be lagging when it comes to operating these systems and taking advantage of this deluge of data.

“Although the shift to predictive maintenance provides a meaningful improvement in the manner by which plants maintain normal operation, there remains a strong element of reactive behavior that manufacturers are looking to overcome,” wrote Robert Rice, vice president of engineering at Control Station Inc. and Richard Bontatibus, vice president of global sales for the company. “Existing predictive maintenance tools do not fully equip a downsized staff to take advantage of the volume of data that is now being generated.”

However, according to the news source, new advancements in asset reliability and condition-based monitoring have emerged that are expected to marry the demand for more order diagnostics with the challenges that come along with a skills gap in the workforce. The new technologies can provide plant managers with huge amounts of data, but also have unique interpolation capabilities that can draw conclusions from the data the same as an experienced plant manager could, the media outlet stated.

All of the new technologies are a part of the “predictive analytics” strategies that firms are increasingly adopting to boost asset uptime. Many manufacturing companies have noted, however, that without the right technologies in place, the scores of data that can now be derived could actually hinder productivity. Fortunately, “significant advances in data analysis have been achieved specifically within the manufacturing realm,” the authors wrote.

“For this big data problem we now have big analytic capabilities that address manufacturing’s needs,” they concluded.

According to the Southwest Research Institute, corrective or reactive maintenance, as opposed to condition based maintenance management, can have serious cost implications, while scheduled maintenance may shorten the life cycle of an asset. Condition-based maintenance, on the other hand, ensures repairs are made as necessary, but gets the most use out of assets. 


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