Seventy percent of manufacturing equipment ‘loss of usefulness’ is caused by either mechanical wear or corrosion, as observed by Dr. E Rabinowicz at M.I.T. In other words, most equipment fails because of small, invisible-to-the-naked-eye factors like abrasion, fatigue, corrosion, and erosion that wear out parts, degrade lubricants, and eventually cause performance issues.
But in the connected age of advanced automation, you no longer have to wait for a failure that shuts your system down. Taking advantage of data feeds from instrumentation, sensors, and machine operating chips, predictive maintenance uses automation to flag falling performance and identify problem areas much sooner.
What is Predictive Maintenance?
Predictive maintenance is the method of evaluating the system via continuous online monitoring to identify areas of falling performance and predict areas in need of maintenance before failure. Like the ‘check oil’ light on your car, predictive maintenance systems notify and schedule various maintenance tasks based on these problem areas.
This approach does more than simply prevent equipment failures. Changing the oil and rotating your tires are activities that help your car to run at peak performance longer. Predictive maintenance extends manufacturing equipment life the same way. Although adding the appropriate hardware for predictive maintenance requires an upfront cost, cost savings are achieved in the long run by:
- Reducing internals wear and tear by removing microscopic contaminants through timely fluids changeovers and cleaning activities
- Accurately reports specific equipment issues as soon as they arise
- Prevents equipment failures and unnecessary maintenance waste through data-driven maintenance schedules, not rote-guesswork.
- Identifies bacterial growth and other hard to detect issues through periodic analysis
- Minimizes system shutdowns through continuous system performance monitoring and alerts
Specific Examples of Predictive Maintenance Benefits for Process Systems:
Is this just theoretically how data can be used? No. We have seen predictive maintenance do wonders for extending equipment life and helping operators eliminate the guesswork of identifying problem sources. To explain how this works, we have three in-depth examples of how predictive maintenance has benefited other plants:
1. Saves Money with Controlled System Shutdown
Unscheduled system shutdown is every plant manager’s worst nightmare. When an unplanned shutdown occurs production immediately stops, and every second money is being lost. During the scramble to get the system back up and running, there is an elevated risk of the system being repaired incorrectly or incompletely, potentially causing there to be a need for further future repairs.
With predictive maintenance, you will know ahead of time that your system is at risk of failing, and you will be able to schedule a system shutdown to allow for repairs. In doing this, repair crews can be more productive with a pre-determined agenda; production can be planned around the maintenance to allow for minimal loss, and plant managers can also use this time to complete any other upgrades or maintenance that may be needed. All of this allows for cost savings during system shutdown.
2. Know Exactly What is Wrong with Equipment
Predictive maintenance hardware/software, properly installed by process automation integrators, will notify the plant operations team exactly what is going wrong with the process system. By knowing which component(s) is bound for failure, the repair team can work without any guesswork.
Being able to purchase the correct parts and contracting the appropriate team allows for the work to be completed in the most efficient manner possible. By eliminating the guesswork and investigation of determining the cause of failure, plants will save money by fixing the system quickly and on the first try.
3. Prevents Other Costs by Addressing Problems Before they Become Catastrophes
Imagine this scenario: your 15-year-old batch mixing system, the one that is integral to your production, breaks down. And not only has it stopped working, but the small issue with one of the pumps caused a failure that sent large pieces of metal shrapnel through the piping and ruined your mixing tank. The tank ruptured and the system is now rendered useless.
If you had predictive maintenance, then the smaller issue could have been caught ahead of time. You wouldn’t be purchasing a new tank and paying for essentially a system overhaul, because the tank never would have been affected.
Extending the life of your systems and preventing major system failures is well worth the cost of a predictive maintenance system. If you have any questions regarding predictive maintenance, process automation integration, or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), please contact 314-714-1580 EPIC Automation Services today.
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