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2016 PdM survey results - Part 3: Data collection and management

Readers willing to invest more in PdM than 18 months ago, but appear less satisfied with program performance.

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

Are you as happy as you could be with your organization's predictive maintenance program?

According to a significant majority of respondents to the 2016 Plant Services PdM survey, the answer is a resounding "no," despite the fact that respondents' planned investments are growing, especially in the areas of control systems, predictive analytics, and mobility.

This year's Plant Services PdM survey is our third such effort, designed to assess the state of (and market for) predictive maintenance technologies and solutions. It was conducted in January and February, and the vast majority of questions were kept identical from year to year to year in order to help benchmark key industry trends.

When it comes to data collection tools, the top two choices from 2014 – pen and paper, and handheld data collectors – remained the top two choices in 2016 (see Figure 1). In particular, for readers who were surprised to see how many respondents admitted two years ago that pen and paper was still a part of their collection system, you’ll be happy to see that the share has dropped from a high of 71.7%. (And for those who still consider pen and paper an indispensable part of the data collection routine, you’ll be relieved to note that 65% of you are still in this together!)

The fact is that both of these methods are giving way to mobile technologies, especially consumer-grade smartphones and tablets, as well as wireless and Internet-enabled sensors. Given the number of mobile apps and mobile plug-in devices available to monitor plant equipment, it’s surprising that these numbers are not higher.

Also, nearly one-third of respondents (31.9%) indicated that they are engaged with OEMs that are providing remote monitoring services, with 24.2% looking to engage within the next three years. (At this time, 38.5% had no plans to go this route, and 77.9% of respondents indicated that they would never share PdM data with OEMs.)

A new question for 2016 assessed the extent to which readers are using Internet-enabled systems and sensors (i.e., IIoT technologies) to monitor their assets. As Figure 2 shows, respondents are still more comfortable using internal control systems to monitor assets than they are using Internet-enabled technologies. However, it is clear that the IIoT has gained a toehold in many plants – a change that respondents recognize might shake up their teams. When asked whether PdM and automation would change the size and makeup of their M&R staff, the share indicating “significant change within 3 years (remote cloud-based analytics will replace higher-level functions)” jumped from 13.1% in 2014 to 21.2% now.

Finally, when it comes to the business drivers for deploying PdM solutions, while none of the options experienced a drop in importance from 2014 to 2016, respondents indicated on the new survey that four specific strategic points were significantly elevated in importance from just 18 months ago: knowledge capture; energy management; increased visibility into troubled assets; and environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) issues.

The number of respondents who rated knowledge capture as “high” moved from 18.8% to 26.7%, which may reflect a concern that, in an era of a workforce in transition, plant teams want to capture as much tribal knowledge as possible. Energy management grew from 28.6% to 34.1%, a reflection of the importance of energy-efficient operations to wider business strategy.

The largest increases were in the categories of increased visibility into assets (from 30.5% to 40.7%) and EH&S issues (from 35.7% to 46.5%), with double-digit increases in the percentage of respondents ranking both drivers as “high” in importance.

There is an interesting disconnect regarding how readers responded to questions on PdM and safety systems. When asked to rate which plantwide investments were most important in relation to other initiatives, the only three to be ranked at “very” or “most” important by more than 50% of respondents were safety (70.2%), reliability solutions (54.6%), and PdM technologies (50.7%).

However, when asked whether their PdM systems were integrated with EH&S systems, only 5.2% indicated that they planned to do this within the year, and 74% indicated that they have no plans to do this. This disconnect may speak to the larger issue of whether M&R teams are able to articulate the value of such integration approaches, as improved safety is often an important and measurable component of the payback that can be achieved with PdM programs.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the story

2016 PdM survey results - Part 1: Plant consolidation and the rise of the reliability engineer

2016 PdM survey results - Part 2: Program investment and satisfaction