Overcome the obstacles to move toward a smarter industry

Thomas Wilk says survey on IIoT adoption shows interesting parallels with PdM deployment.

By Thomas Wilk, chief editor

Last month's Editor's Note ended on a fairly ominous note: If you want to keep running, you need to act on the available data and be open to continuous learning, or your equipment and programs will continue to fail.

Well, enough doom and gloom–this note will be a lot more optimistic! For one thing, this issue brings you the conclusion to Sheila Kennedy's multi-part cover story on how to restart a stalled or failed PdM program, with a focus on the seven critical factors that are common to successful programs.

As outlined in her article, a key part of the challenge is recognizing that, although it often takes a combination of most or all factors to succeed, lagging in even just one area has the potential to derail your program. However, what may seem at first to be an impossible challenge may have a significant silver lining, as chances are slim that a facility would be deficient in all seven areas.

If you and your teams can narrow things down to the one or two areas which offer the most opportunity for improvement at your specific facility, then you likely have identified the path to get your program back on track.

With this in mind, it's useful to take a look at the obstacles that plant teams are identifying as most difficult to overcome. For this exercise, we have two sets of useful data to look at, the annual Plant Services survey on predictive maintenance, and a recently completed survey by our sister publication Smart Industry on IIoT adoption.

As Keith Larson writes in the Smart Industry "2016 State of Initiative" report, "while some skeptics remain on the sidelines, many more organizations have moved to identify pilot IIoT applications and to fund broader application roll-outs just in the past year." (The full IIoT report is available here)

These results match what Plant Services readers reported earlier this year on their PdM initiatives: the number of respondents who say they have no plans to deploy predictive tools dropped significantly over the past 18 months, and modest increases in budget were reported across the board. (The PdM survey data are available here.)

And what were the most common barriers to success? Two choices topped the PdM survey: "undefined financial benefits" at 36.0% (up from 26.0% in 2014) and "undefined operational benefits" at 26.7% (up from 16.9% in 2014). As if in parallel, topping the IIoT survey was "lack of business-impact understanding," identified by 46.1% of respondents.

These results correspond to two of the seven success factors identified in this month's cover story: Make reliability a shared vision, and communicate the value clearly and persistently. It's next to impossible to achieve either of those things if the benefits and impact of your initiatives is poorly defined or non-existent.

Which of the seven PdM program success factors are your teams getting right? Which one or two could use some immediate attention? It's true that every potential failure that is caught and corrected before causing unplanned downtime should be reported and celebrated. Be sure you know which successes to celebrate as well!