Efficient Plant April 2021 - 9

feature | predictive maintenance

A PdM pilot must make an
impact on leadership by
removing any doubt of the
potential gains that will be
missed if the solution is
not embraced.

APRIL 2021

EP2104fmotion.indd 9

INDUSTRY 4.0 CONCEPTS will fundamentally change how manufacturing and
industrial businesses operate, and technology
adoption is accelerating across the world
as you read this. One of the most impactful
sectors of the movement is predictive maintenance (PdM), which is enabled through
continuous collection and analysis of machine
performance data. Most of us are familiar with
the PdM concept and have likely begun to
utilize some form of the technology already.
Are you realizing the full potential of PdM by
changing your day-to-day practices based on
the insights derived from machine data?
All new technology should be vetted thoroughly and used in parallel with existing procedures before making a large-scale change in
maintenance and reliability practices. Nobody
wins if you bet the farm on something that
doesn't work properly or isn't well-suited for
a specific application or environment. That's
why pilot programs are generally conducted in
relatively small and controlled settings before
large-scale initiatives are rolled out. Following
are questions to ask and answer before designing a pilot program:
Are you starting with the end in mind?
Before piloting a PdM solution, your team
should conduct a meticulous review of its
technical specifications. Let's assume we are
investigating a wireless vibration-monitoring
solution. Among other things, you'll need to
learn about the wireless-communication protocol and range, the number of sensors that
one gateway can support, and the battery life
expectancy of sensors/devices (if applicable).
The goal is to understand what it will take
to monitor equipment across an entire facility.
How many sensors/repeaters/gateways will
it take to cover the applicable assets? Are
communication infrastructures such as Wi-Fi
or Ethernet required? Have cybersecurity concerns been addressed? The technical functionality is the main purpose of this exercise, but
equally important is the financial projection of
a large implementation. What is the cost of

installing and commissioning the system?
What maintenance will be involved, e.g.,
changing batteries? Are there ongoing fees
associated with connectivity or support?
Is the pilot properly scoped?
As noted above, technology vetting should
be primarily completed before the pilot
begins. The overriding purpose of a pilot is to
obtain buy-in from stakeholders so you can
expand the program. To do that, you need to
document the financial impact of addressing
failing assets before they turn into catastrophic
breakdowns that interrupt production. Too
many pilots fail to accomplish this critical
goal because they were not designed with the
proper scope. A successful pilot must cover a
minimum critical mass of assets, it must last
for a reasonable amount of time, and it must
be in a high-visibility/high-value portion of
the production facility.
Monitoring one 5-hp electric motor that
powers an auxiliary function for two weeks
is an example of a pilot that doesn't stand
a chance at scaling up. Well-meaning PdM
champions who present a pilot such as this
will be met with a firm " so what? " response
from leadership when they review the pretty
graphs of neat, consistent data collected from
the sensor.
A PdM pilot must make an impact on leadership by removing any doubt of the potential
gains that will be missed if the solution is not
embraced. All applications are different, but a
loose rule of thumb for PdM pilots is 10 to 50
high-impact, high-visibility assets for three to
six months. This allows everyone involved to
see variability in performance data and direct
failure trends from sensor data. Any anomaly
in the data must be acted on swiftly, and the
financial impact of minimizing downtime
must be documented and included in the
pilot's review.
How will full implementation change your
day-to-day maintenance practices?
The most critical variable that will determine a PdM program's success or failure is
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Efficient Plant April 2021

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