Machinery Lubrication / Infrared Thermography / Vibration Analysis / Shaft Alignment / Remote Monitoring / Temperature Monitoring / Ultrasound

Predictive maintenance survey reveals drivers, obstacles and the future

Financial considerations propel the use of oil analysis, infrared, and vibration testing.

By Paula Hollywood, ARC Advisory Group

In brief:

  • PdM is the practice applying condition-based monitoring techniques to collect and analyze asset data to gain an understanding of asset performance and perform appropriate maintenance as indicated by the asset.
  • In order for production to meet targets, equipment must be available and in acceptable working order.
  • Efficient management of assets is critical to improving plant performance.

The global process industries lose an estimated $20 billion annually due to unscheduled downtime and poor quality. It’s no surprise that, in a joint survey by Plant Services and ARC Advisory Group, respondents indicated "improve uptime" as the primary driver for deploying predictive maintenance (PdM) solutions (Figure 1). PdM is the practice applying condition-based monitoring techniques to collect and analyze asset data to gain an understanding of asset performance and perform appropriate maintenance as indicated by the asset. The survey polled end users regarding current status of PdM programs, as well as future plans for improvement.

Figure 1. Almost 90% of survey respondents deploy PdM solutions to improve uptime.
Figure 1. Almost 90% of survey respondents deploy PdM solutions to improve uptime.

This PdM survey provides insights on practices and maintenance management. Users should compare their operations with the survey results to gain a better understanding of best practices and obtain ideas for proven improvements.

In order for production to meet targets, equipment must be available and in acceptable working order. Ineffective maintenance accounts for $60 billion annually, according to ARC research. This PdM survey reflected that manufacturers are well aware of this, too, as "reduce operational cost” was the runner-up, followed closely by "reduce maintenance cost". A sound PdM strategy can improve workforce and financial performance. With a combined view of asset availability and other operational constraints, workers can make information-driven decisions.

PdM technology usage

PdM is frequently referred to as condition-based maintenance, but, regardless of what it’s called, these types of solutions quantitatively evaluate equipment condition relative to an established baseline or standard. The value of PdM lies in its diagnostic capabilities, which greatly aid in the maintenance decision-making process. Spending for PdM systems continues to outpace that of the automation industry in general, as manufacturers seek to leverage a deeper knowledge of equipment condition as a means of increasing asset utilization and productivity and reducing maintenance costs, according to ARC research.

The increased amount and complexity of automation equipment currently installed in plants requires a higher-order approach to maintenance provided by PdM systems. As the discipline of asset performance management (APM) matures, the process industries are exhibiting a greater understanding of its principles. As users become more familiar and proficient in condition-based monitoring techniques, they will demand more from the equipment, and suppliers must keep pace.

Figure 2. More than two-thirds of survey respondents use oil analysis, infrared, and vibration testing as part of their PdM practices.
Figure 2. More than two-thirds of survey respondents use oil analysis, infrared, and vibration testing as part of their PdM practices.

The survey results indicate that oil analysis, infrared, and vibration are widely implemented now (Figure 2). Predictive monitoring solutions continue to expand in capability, as indicated by the interest in corrosion monitoring. The effects of corrosion cost the process industries roughly $300 billion annually in lost production, failure of key equipment, and fines for environmental and safety violations. Corrosion monitoring can significantly lengthen the life of mechanical equipment and piping, as well as prevent abnormal situations from occurring. In addition to traditional PdM technologies, reliability, predictive software modeling, and condition monitoring in EAM/CMMS were included as choices for survey respondents. Responses for reliability and CM in EAM/CMMS were very similar. However, it appears that utilization of predictive modeling as a PdM technology is not yet mainstream.

Integration enhances value of PdM

Stand-alone solutions can provide excellent value for newcomers, but may not be sufficient for sustainable improvement due in part to the islands of information stand-alone solutions create. The industry has progressed far beyond proprietary one-off connectors to certified interfaces to facilitate information exchange. In organizations where increasing physical asset reliability as a means to improve asset availability is deemed the primary goal, connecting PdM applications that directly or indirectly administrate, measure, analyze, resolve, and improve asset performance in a comprehensive fashion will drive appropriate workforce actions. The good news is that, for the most part, survey respondents are integrating PdM solutions with other enterprise systems, particularly with historians and EAM/CMMS (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Almost half of survey respondents indicate they use an historian for collected data.
Figure 3. Almost half of survey respondents indicate they use an historian for collected data.

The current generation of plant equipment is far more intelligent than previous generations. These more intelligent assets require a more strategic, integrated management approach. Leveraging the rich information in these solutions can improve the effectiveness of each. Ideally, all solutions should be connected in real time. Integrating solutions based on function offers a practical approach. For example, PdM and EAM systems have embedded ready-made networks for the collection of disparate data. Combining reliability information with PdM solutions can improve the predictive capability of the PdM solution by identifying assets for critical assessment and thereby minimize the possibility of asset failure.

Survey respondents are integrating PdM with historians most frequently. However, what is not clear from the survey is if the historian is being utilized as a data archive, as has been the case traditionally, or as an improvement tool. With increased data throughput and higher data resolutions, historians have evolved to become a tool for managing plant assets, thanks to new visibility and trending tools. Today's historians also support techniques, such as complex event processing, which can analyze multiple streams of plant data in real time to identify and diagnose emerging problems before disrupting production. Remote access to historian data via the Web enables central management of assets, whether within a single plant or across multiple plants. PdM solutions are widely integrated with EAM/CMMS, according to the survey. EAM systems have also evolved to include greater functionality to accommodate the broad spectrum of features needed to effectively integrate and manage the different types of asset classes found throughout the enterprise. New EAM systems configured to support the maintenance business processes of an enterprise can integrate, consolidate and help prioritize data for a single version of the truth throughout the enterprise. Features such as real-time data collection, diagnostics, and analysis tools enable individual users to prioritize and track information in the context of their functions.

Equally important is integrating applications using standardized formats that permit the enterprise to undertake corporate-wide initiatives. Additional value is derived from the sharing of best practices among individual plants for continuous improvement throughout the organization. From a management perspective, the addition of risk and simulation functionality provides management with deeper insight into the financial implications of PdM before making a decision to adjust resources.

Recommendations

Paula Hollywood is senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group. Email her at phollywood@arcweb.com.

Efficient management of assets is critical to improving plant performance. As a component of a comprehensive asset performance management strategy, PdM solutions offer huge benefits. However, the value realized by the enterprise is dependent upon selecting solutions that fill gaps in existing practices. Companies that adopt a strategic approach to plant assets and their management will drive the enterprise to optimal performance.

  • Investigate PdM solutions and adopt those that support core objectives and goals of the enterprise. Include estimations for implementation cost and schedule, including implementation resources, regulatory requirements, the type and version of applications and systems, proprietary data sources, and types of processes that will be impacted.
  • Invest in PdM solutions with real-time analytics functionality that provides the ability to perform dynamic or real-time calculations and to compare current and historical data.
  • For beginners, consider implementing PdM solutions in a pilot project in one location. Measuring and quantifying the benefits realized will help build the case for future PdM deployments.
  • Consider PdM solutions that express information in financial terms that can be directly correlated to recommended actions or that clearly show the cost of inaction. In some organizations, it might be possible to tie actions to financial incentives. Incentivized workers have a way of being successful, provided the goal is achievable and can be accurately measured.
  • Integration remains a challenge for most enterprises, but the ability to easily integrate multiple applications is key for successful PdM implementations. Integrating allows the workforce to gain additional insight to optimize asset availability and utilization while balancing operational constraints to improve financial results.