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[Case history] Zero-failure objective for your PdM program

April 16, 2019
Predictive maintenance: Pedal to the metal

Run-to-failure is increasingly reserved for rare and unique circumstances. This trend started when increasingly capable condition inspection and monitoring tools shifted the asset management focus from “fix what’s broken” to “keep it from breaking down.” Today, unprecedented opportunities afforded by the industrial internet of things (IIoT) have further changed the playing field, and there are potential benefits yet to be realized.

For example, predictive maintenance (PdM), originally based on selected asset condition data, has grown to accommodate online, real-time streams of multiple types of condition data received via sensors and even drones. Some companies are applying machine learning (ML) to further refine their predictive analytics and prognostics.

The newest opportunity, prescriptive maintenance (RxM), is a multivariate approach that merges asset condition data with any combination of operating, environmental, process safety, engineering, supplier, or other related data to better diagnose conditions and prescribe specific options for corrective action. The advanced analytics, pattern recognition, modeling, ML, and artificial intelligence (AI) that empower RxM may help companies finally greatly curtail, if not eliminate, the need for reactive maintenance on critical equipment.

Mercer Celgar, a modern pulp mill located in British Columbia, Canada, is targeting zero unpredictable failures on all rotating equipment in its PdM program (2,381 total), and has plans to transition from the existing automated diagnostic system to ML in 2021.

Currently, Mercer Celgar uses automated online monitoring for critical and less accessible equipment. Automatic fault notifications bring attention to the issues, and analytics performed on the condition data generate corrective action recommendations. The plant also has certified vibration analysts and Noria-certified lubrication mechanics who perform route-based condition data collection, as well as operators equipped to perform operator-driven reliability (ODR) inspections.

According to Dragan Trivanovic, reliability manager at Mercer Celgar, major benefits of the PdM program to-date include:

  • Fewer catastrophic failures (from 50 to 4-5 per year)
  • Fewer pump replacements (117 in 2007 vs. 28 in 2018)
  • Fewer electro motor replacements (123 in 2007 vs. 15 in 2018)

To those considering adopting new PdM technologies and strategies, Trivanovic says: “Highly trained technicians supported with great technology could accomplish results like these.”

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.

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