With improved software and data management, plant maintenance doesnt have to be a headache

With improved software and data management, plant maintenance doesn't have to be a headache

Manufacturing facilities often report serious issues when it comes to balancing strong production schedules with needed maintenance, but by implementing new technologies that have been developed, plant maintenance engineers can significantly improve the relationship between the two. 

According to Plant Engineering, these advancements include improved communication tools that can help companies align their goals with each maintenance process, as well as human capital improvements that may require a change in company culture. 

At a recent ARC Advisory Group meeting in Orlando, a presentation titled "Synchronizing Operations and Management" discussed how high productivity and useful maintenance could be married. The presentation features a number of demonstrations from companies that have already successfully brought the two together. 

The media outlet noted that many attendees stated issues that arise in plant maintenance can often be traced back to poor data communication between platforms. Ralph Rio of ARC Advisory Group, the session's moderator, added that ARC's Asset Lifecycle Management tool combats this by focusing on asset improvement during the lifecycle.

"We feel there is opportunity for further optimization if there is synchronization across groups so when maintenance schedules downtime, it appears in the production schedule," he said.

Robert Scampton of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group said that as companies grow in size, they become more sectioned off, making widespread quality harder to ensure. 

"We live in a world that's very regimented, with lots of rules we have to follow," he said. "We had trouble getting everyone in line. They didn't talk very well with each other. They needed to be aligned as a fleet."

When Constellation first went about changing its operations, it found that it needed to identify what each facility needed, such as alarm events, monitoring asset performance, when maintenance could safely be conducted and equipment licensing requirements. Once these were understood, the firm could then consolidate everything and choose an asset maintenance software that suited it best. 

"It was Change Management 101," Scampton added. "The keys are to create a cross-disciplined team include representatives from all departments affected by the change. You have to demonstrate the importance of the changes, communicate about the change frequently and celebrate the change frequently."

According to the news source, adding new tools has also allowed the results of maintenance to be compared against data from every day operations. Eric Winterberg of APM Terminals stated that with the right software, the company was able to switch over from reactive to preventative maintenance, which has led to enormous savings. 

According to the University of South Carolina, new maintenance strategies, such as condition-based maintenance, have become critical components of manufacturing facilities, and have huge effects on the ability to derive cost effectiveness from available data. 

Keeping track of all maintenance that is performed can also help ensure compliance with federal regulations set by groups like OSHA and the EPA.

To learn more about eRPortal, visit www.erportalsoftware.com.

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