A blast from the past: Fire up the maintenance management wayback machine

Thomas Wilk delves into Plant Services' history to learn how we got here.

By Thomas Wilk, chief editor

Several articles in this month’s issue discuss how advances in mobility, MES, and the industrial internet can streamline maintenance workflows and help plant teams communicate efficiently. But how did we get here?

Time for a summer detour into Plant Services’ past, where, to quote Billy Joel, tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems...

September 2006: From “Behind The Dashboard” by Chief Editor Paul Studebaker: “Only a few years ago, the concept of displaying in detail the condition of a single complex plant, let alone the many facilities of a global enterprise, was as far-fetched as Spock’s ears. ... Today, thanks to developments ranging from Y2K updates of ERP software through MIMOSA, OPC-UA, and S95 to HTML and Web Services, effective dashboard systems can be relatively straightforward to plumb.”

February 1986: From “Computerized Preventive Maintenance Reduces Downtime, Saves Money” by John Molnar, PE: “In the past, preventative maintenance scheduling was at best a mechanical system that depended on some sort of card file, or relied on someone’s memory to determine what was to be done, and when. ... Currently, personal computers operate as single-user systems. The next innovation is to tie together several PCs for large installations that need to exchange information. These PCs could be used for computerized preventive maintenance (CPM), inventory control, scheduling, purchasing, and maintenance management. ... Turnkey installations that include software and hardware could range from $15,000 to $25,000.”

May/June 1966: From “Preventive Maintenance Reminder System,” by Editor Kenneth Rhodie: “There are 1,600 compressors scattered throughout the Union Carbide buildings in Institute, W. Va. Naturally the devices are of different sizes and come from a number of manufacturers. Keeping track of this potpourri of needs is beyond the capability of the clearest-thinking foreman or the most proficient mechanic. ... The basic unit of the (maintenance reminder system) is a water and fire-proof metal writing plate with nine lines on which can be embossed all information needed concerning a specific piece of equipment. Fixed data on the top line of the plate (define asset type, location, and department). The second line describes the equipment to be worked on. The next seven lines give maintenance instructions. When printing is completed, decks of cards containing a week of work are distributed to various foremen who pass them on to workmen.”

September/October 1960: From our very first issue, when we were titled Plant Engineering Equipment: “Two-Way Radio Fits in Pocket: Broadcasts and receives at distances up to 1 mile. Actually fitting into your pocket, (this) miniature two-way radio is finding many uses as a paging system in factories. Microphone and speaker are built in, and a retractable antenna may be extended for broadcasting. Good for paging.”