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From the editor’s desk: Predictive maintenance drives asset performance

Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019 News

The modern trend in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) tactics is to deploy a combination of continuous monitoring and cloud-based predictive analytic solutions. The underlying principle is early warning of impending equipment failure, which may not be detectable using more traditional inspection-based methods. But, since every plant is different, their MRO requirements could also be different. The SA Instrumentation and Control team has compiled this Industry Guide to provide you a reference point in the confusing landscape of approaches and technologies available for equipment monitoring, and the implementation of a reliability centred maintenance strategy.

The objective remains to keep the plant running at optimal efficiency, but now secure in the knowledge that a breakdown is not about to catch you unaware, suddenly and without warning. The answer lies in the techniques of continuous data harvesting, followed by information analysis performed against a known ‘healthy’ digital signature of that equipment. Any significant difference triggers an early warning of deterioration, leaving ample time to switch over to a standby – pump for arguments sake – while the primary is taken out of service for repair.

The question that a plant maintenance manager needs to answer therefore becomes: Which plant operations would benefit the most from continuous monitoring? Or in other words, which equipment is most critical to overall business effectiveness?

Once the crucial areas have been identified, then the decision must be taken as to whether the monitoring and analysis can be achieved via the plant’s current automation platforms, or whether it has to be separate. Once this is known, it must then be decided whether the systems can be run and managed in-house, or whether it makes better business sense to outsource this to a specialist third-party service operation, which taps into the facility through a (hopefully) secure Internet connection.

The technologies of the IIoT put it all within reach

The profitability of asset-intensive manufacturing companies hinges to a large extent on maximum plant availability with minimal (zero) unplanned downtime. Even though the ideas of equipment condition monitoring have been around for many years, they were always limited by the need for plant-based specialists to analyse the data and detect the warning signs. Now, thanks to affordable smart sensors and cloud-based analytical software packages, seamlessly connected via the Industrial Internet of Things, equipment analysis has become easier with many suppliers offering to monitor their machinery remotely as a service. Some even offer to monitor overall plant performance providing regular reports and recommendations, along with guarantees of maximised productivity and reduced operating expenses.

Whatever the unique requirements of your plant, we trust the extensive list of suppliers and service providers included at the back of this publication will help you to identify the right partner for an MRO strategy that moves your organisation closer to optimum performance and the benefits that accrue to those at the top of the pile.

Steven Meyer

Editor: SA Instrumentation & Control

steven@technews.co.za



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