Harnessing New Technologies for Maintenance

In manufacturing industry, maintenance is a routine activity carried out to ensure that the plant continues to work efficiently and smoothly. This is essential to ensure planned production. Any breakdown of the plant will lead to losses in the form of loss of work in progress which were mounted and loss of time required for repairs. Also, the planned production schedule goes haywire creating problems down stream for the sales/ marketing and after sales teams. It may also impinge on customer goodwill in form of delayed deliveries and affected customer schedules.

These issues are addressed by planning the stoppage in production in the form of scheduled maintenance activity. A scheduled shut down allows a planned stoppage of production and hence all downstream activities can be planned keeping the planned shut down in mind. However, the Planned Preventive Maintenance is an expensive means of maintenance as it works more on fear than logic. The OEM of the machinery decides, based on his design limitations, when the plant has to be stopped for inspection. Also, based on the designer's confidence, it decides when various components have to be changed. The fear of failure forces the maintainer to follow the schedule and change components based on time and running hours irrespective of whether the component/ assembly needs to be changed or not. In effect, we end up maintaining and inspecting a system which does not need to be maintained/ inspected and changing components that do not need to be changed at that moment of time. Then there is the added cost of additional inspections, when not required. Hence planned maintenance leads to additional costs.

Then we moved on to condition based maintenance. Here the condition of the machinery is monitored closely and maintenance activities are planned for only those components that show a need for maintenance in the form of deteriorated performance. However, though a number of scientific techniques are used to monitor the equipment and come to a decision on whether maintenance is required or not, a lot of time the assessment is subjective. Fears of the assessors play on, though in the subconscious. We can still not predict accurately when we need to stop the plant for maintenance. Also the time period between the prediction and the actual stoppage is short and hence the advantages of a properly planned shut down are lost.

So, has the advances in technology placed us in a position where we can predict the maintenance requirement with a sufficiently large advance notice to allow a proper planned shut down? An optimised solution for maintenance. I sure think, yes. The advances in M2M communication, data analytic, sensor technology, cloud storage and Internet of Things (IoT) have thrown such opportunities at us. Can we leverage them to optimise our plant maintenance process? I think yes.

If you are interested in such maintenance related issues or if you are a maintenance professional or if you are a part of the senior management concerned with the operations, efficiency and hence the resultant effect on the balance sheet, you may like to attend a workshop on "Advanced Techniques and Technologies for Optimised Maintenance". Where do you have such a workshop? Well, Adler Technoserve Pvt Ltd is conducting such a workshop at Pune on 28 Mar 17. You can gather the details as well as register for the workshop at www.adlertechnoserve.com/events.html.