Condition monitoring in the cloud (Part 1)

A growing number of software and service offerings leverage the cloud to extend the reach and value of predictive and condition-based maintenance (CBM).

By Sheila Kennedy

Eager to embrace condition monitoring but concerned about data storage and other practical issues? Cloud-based solutions are coming to the rescue.

Cloud-enabled software

Cloud access to CBM solutions allows for a more holistic view of asset health. GE and Meridium’s Production Asset Reliability (PAR) platform, which combines GE Measurement & Control’s System 1 condition monitoring software with Meridium’s enterprise performance management and asset strategy solutions, joins asset and production data collected from multiple plants with the alarms and events from condition monitoring solutions. The platform triggers actions based on customer work processes and preferences.

The cloud facilitates data sharing “across sites and even country boundaries,” says Erik Lindhjem, executive product manager of GE’s Bently Nevada software. He adds: “Leveraging this new deployment model enables us to engage with our clients in a more real-time model.”

“With enhanced asset management and data analysis, plant operators and executives can derive a true picture of asset health, optimize production, better understand the asset life cycle, improve safety and manage risk,” adds Sunith Roy, Meridium VP of integration and development.

The @ptitude Connect cloud service from SKF also provides plantwide or enterprise-wide access to machine condition data via the Internet. It enables secure, real-time access to subscription-based SKF condition monitoring software and avoids the time and costs required to implement and manage the software infrastructure in-house. 

“One of the strongest benefits we hear from our customers is how it eliminates their dealings with IT personnel, which can be a nightmare, and allows them to instead focus on keeping their machines running,” says Luis Econom, manager of cloud services and solutions at SKF.

With OSIsoft’s PI Cloud Connect, authorized users can subscribe to receive data from PI Systems (a real-time data and event management tool), to allow for collaboration among personnel at multiple sites as well as trusted service providers, contract manufacturers, and others who need access to the production data.

“A cloud-based approach removes technical barriers that exist in on-premise operations,” explains Michael Moore, global solutions architect at OSIsoft.

Service advantages

Online condition monitoring services provide ready access to asset experts. Azima DLI’s reliability service offerings span all CBM areas and utilize certified personnel who have diagnostic expertise. “Deploying our Watchman Services over a cloud-based infrastructure improves the ability to maintain a large distributed system,” remarks Laurent La Porte, Azima DLI director of technical services.

The transparency that cloud-based systems offer can drive better performance, adds Dave Geswein, Azima DLI product engineer. “If many stakeholders can see that an asset is overdue for data collection, then that asset is likely going to receive the attention it needs,” he says.

Siemens’ Asset Analytics Services offering aims to increase machines’ and production lines’ availability and reliability. Large volumes of physical and process data are recorded and transmitted to a Siemens operations center for analysis; customers receive results via a Web portal or report. Automatic alarms are generated for critical conditions.

“We have met with customers who decided to use their own in-house expert to develop a condition monitoring program,” says Martin Brucherseifer, Siemens’ U.S. practice lead for asset analytics. “Some programs failed for a simple reason – the expert either left the company or took another job. A cloud-based service is an improvement because it provides access to many dedicated experts who can provide continuity and sustainable results.”

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