Focus on predictive maintenance success

Industry leaders share advice on building the right PdM program for your plant

By Sheila Kennedy, Contributing Editor

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Transitioning from reactive or run-to-failure maintenance modes to more efficient, predictive maintenance (PdM) necessitates often hard fought strategic investments. Fortunately, lower condition monitoring technology costs and affordable implementation alternatives are taking the edge off of this debate and encouraging more rapid and widespread adoption.

PdM is a proven, proactive approach to preventing failures, eliminating machinery defects, and improving reliability while minimizing unproductive maintenance and costs. Successfully implementing a PdM program requires balancing budgets, goals, and existing resources against business priorities and technical requirements.

When 11 industry professionals were asked to share their advice on navigating this course, there was one recurring theme: “It depends.” The valuable counsel offered by these reliability consultants, educators, service providers, and technology vendors provides a strong starting point for choosing where to focus limited PdM dollars, who can best perform the tasks, how to use the data properly, and what new trends are boosting PdM success.

Which assets benefit most from PdM?

On the question of asset prioritization, there was no disagreement: PdM efforts should be focused on vital assets that pose the greatest risk of failure.

“Criticality of the assets to the production output and safety of the facility should play a big part in the initial PdM application,” suggests Shon Isenhour, a partner at Eruditio.

“A criticality analysis ranks the assets based on the risk they present to your company in the areas of safety, health, environment, business impact, quality, and other factors,” explains Bill Barto, director of the Reliability Solutions Group at Life Cycle Engineering (LCE). “For example, I would target a pump whose failure causes an immediate process disruption (high business impact) over a pump that has a backup on standby (low business impact).”

Jason Tranter, founder of Mobius Institute, takes that concept further. “Without an understanding of the failures modes, including an appreciation of the P-F interval (the time from first symptom to functional failure), it is not possible to determine which PdM technology can detect the fault or how frequently tests must be performed,” says Tranter.

“We look for low hanging fruit as well as the top 40 list of worst actors–the most expensive to maintain and least reliable–because if you don’t get early successes, the program will lose favor when the novelty wears off,” advises Timothy Dunton, director, instructor, and developer of Reliable Manufacturing at Reliability Solutions Training.

“Apply PdM to the top 20 percent of the critical equipment list first, and after the health of those assets improves, tackle the next 20 percent, and so on until more than 85 percent of your assets are covered,” suggests Andy Page, principal consultant for the Technical Services Group at Allied Reliability Group.

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