Best of 2023: Top 10 maintenance and reliability articles

Best of 2023: Top 10 maintenance and reliability articles

Jan. 11, 2024
Here’s what your peers were reading in 2023.

2023 was a year of advancement and disruption in the manufacturing industry. New technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning were helping companies improve productivity while looming threats like cyberattacks and workforce issues kept many executives up at night. Through it all, plant floor workers and facility managers searched for new and better ways to keep their plants up and running. Here are the 10 most popular articles posted on Plant Services in 2023. 

Vibration spectrum analysis 101: Tips for getting started

Once the purview of technical specialists, the need to analyze machine vibration data has become commonplace for engineers, maintenance planners, facilities managers, and administrators. The reasons for this include an increasing reliance on vibration data for managing machine reliability, coupled with the sheer volume of data streaming in from the remote sensors and cloud-based monitoring systems that make data collection more practical than ever.

What hasn’t changed is the need for the knowledge and skills to turn that growing volume of data into decision-driving information. There have been advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to process vibration data. But in critical applications that impact the bottom line, professionals know decisions on machinery repair and replacement need manual confirmation of analysis results.


Motor repair business flips the maintenance model

For more than 60 years, third-generation family business HECO has been a leader in electric motor maintenance and repairs and system overhauls. Some recent acquisitions and partnerships have begun to significantly evolve HECO’s business model and ultimately, its relationship with its manufacturing customers.

Most recently, its partnership with relayr, a provider of software solutions, has started moving the business from a time-based preventive maintenance or route-based predictive maintenance solution, to one that is more outcomes-based, with hope to move toward equipment-as-a-service models. The key to this business model for industry, in the case of a motor repair company, is truly aligning the business goals with the goals of its customers.


Is your plant following the new NFPA 70B standard?

In January 2023, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) adopted the Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, NFPA 70B, which had long been developed as recommended practices. The 70B standard follows other NFPA standards that address safe electrical design and installation and worker safety. Maintenance was the last aspect of electrical safety that needed to be addressed by the code.

The code does need to be adopted state-by-state, and local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) will oversee any enforcement, including local inspectors or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It's important to understand the guidelines now and start the planning process. Many already have electrical maintenance programs and an electrical maintenance plan (EMP). If you don’t, now is the time to start.


8 future sustainability trends for industry

The increased focus on ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) policies and global commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions have narrowed in on industry and its relationship with the environment.

In some cases, sustainability practices are reaching even further than green initiatives to employee safety, ethics, and diversity and inclusion. The tie that binds sustainability practices and the future is technology and data analysis. Technology gives industry the tools to understand, measure, and improve sustainability, supporting quick scale-up measures and laying an infrastructure foundation for the future. With the right tools, sustainability might even be profitable. 


6 common design mistakes in compressed air systems

Compressed air systems are always essential parts of industrial plants, and we need to ensure they are well designed and will run efficiently. Compressed air auditing professionals frequently come across many common design mistakes made in installing this essential but inherently inefficient plant utility. This article discusses some of these nagging problems with some suggestions in how to avoid these costly design mistakes.


How thermal imaging can make preventive maintenance safer and more efficient

Preventive maintenance is intended to reduce unplanned downtime and improve safety. Most maintenance programs currently utilize thermal imaging as one of many technologies to inspect and monitor critical equipment. Using the right thermal tools and software as part of a maintenance route can catch the heat generated from degrading components. This article outlines five steps you can take to get even more impact for your program. 


15 maintenance processes to help you lay the right foundation for continuous improvement

Continuous Improvement has become a catch all of sorts in that we take what we are currently doing to try to improve upon it. There is a minor flaw in this thought process: Are we doing the right work, or are we doing work that does not net great results in the end?

If we are doing the wrong work, we can still improve upon it. However, our goal should be to set up the proper foundations or the “right work” before we worry about improving upon anything, and develop and implement a truly life changing maintenance system.


8 ways artificial intelligence and machine learning can advance predictive maintenance

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are helping manufacturers move beyond time-based maintenance practices, aiding more proactive practices and predictive maintenance. When a maintenance team detects anomalies in their measurements, vibration for example, that means there’s already equipment degradation. AI/ML can help identify those anomalies in asset data earlier, before deterioration starts.

These advanced technologies are also paramount to breaking down siloes in the manufacturing system and processes as a whole. Here, experts at Aspen Technology share eight ways these advanced technologies will impact PdM strategies in the future.


Considerations for using bypass contactors with VFDs

People in industry are continually finding applications that benefit from variable frequency drives (VFDs), which allow users to adapt or change their process to provide a more efficient outcome, usually in terms of production.

For example, take a simple conveyor that carries a product to a boxing machine or a palletizer. Without VFDs, this process will be dedicated to the predetermined base speed defined by the motor’s nameplate rpm, the gearbox ratio, and the diameter of the driven sprockets. Imagine what would happen if the speed of all of the motors could be increased by 10% or adjusted up or down to meet the limitations of the equipment downstream. In another application, a process that depends on pressure or flow may require an operator to watch gauges to start and stop a machine to prevent overspeed or underspeed conditions that negatively affect overall efficiency. A VFD wired into a transducer used for PID (proportional, integral, derivative) feedback would adjust its own speed based on predefined setpoints. 


How new vibration solutions vitalize equipment health

Industrial assets benefit from proactive condition management. Vibration monitoring and analysis are prominent predictive maintenance strategies, and vibration damping is a foundational vibration control strategy. Solutions that deliver on these strategies help plants to detect or prevent irregularities, avert costly failure and downtime, and increase reliability and efficiency.

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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