The application of condition monitoring tools to look for signs of failure can result in cost increases if we are not careful.
Whilst we fully support CM, PdM and CBM this investment only creates a return when we can do something useful as a result of this new insight.
The failure modes that cause failures in our equipment must be managed and this can be via a mix of strategies, dependant upon the criticality of each functioning asset.
Simply buying in new CM technology will not improve the reliability of your asset population.
Our view, for what its worth, is that every company has a different aversion to risk, it has different missions and objectives. We have been taught this as a means to differentiate and to create a space for our organisations to flourish.
We must really understand what it is we can do to ensure that poor reliability does not impact in a negative way upon our business operation.
In the spirit that prevention is better than cure, intelligence gathered from our assets that we can use to inform how we maintain them is a good thing.
Whether we use this to derive either a predictive element or an early reactive capability, will be down to the strategy that each company develops.
“If we only react to assets that reveal their deterioration, then we aren’t back in the days of firefighting again?”
It is true that for facilities that enable truly predictive technologies to “protect” their assets, that the dilemma will be how to ensure that the right skills and resource are available to react to the call for action when it comes. Like buses, you may wait all day and then find that they all come at once, how do we manage this?
The potential problem is that companies may see IIoT as a means to design out the need for maintenance skills resources to reduce costs. Clearly operating on a minimal resource when there are fluctuating demand cycles will leave you wanting at times when you are in the most desperate need for available resource. So this must not be a driver in the evolution of maintenance management strategies.
However if you take a look at the value structure of maintenance management the real return on investment is elimination of failures and not the ability to react to them when they present themselves. Yes we need to know early so we can plan and so we avoid secondary and tertiary effects of faults, but our goal is 100% up time no failures, no down time, lowest cost.
So how to we do this?
Well, its like all the best strategies, there is a mix of resource and deployment strategies that will be right for each entity.
Starting with the human resource there will be an optimal number of permanently employed and correctly skilled engineers and technicians however, they must be capable of both reacting to unplanned events such as a need to intervene and restore function but they must also be gainfully employed in the elimination of failures at times when no intervention is required.
We must remember that the majority of maintenance jobs, some of which can be handled by machinery operators ( TPM model) are not high technology jobs but more about maintaining standards, cleanliness, oil levels, noting and reporting performance changes and changes form the norm.
There are tasks such as retrospective analysis of machinery performance and reliability data in order to uncover, understand, and manage issues that lead to opportunities for improvement or elimination of failure.
There are knowledge transfer activities to ensure that we do not lose valuable insight as we move forward.
So the answer to resourcing is to take a wide and pragmatic view to the need to properly resource our maintenance needs, to not see reductions in the labour resource as where the cost savings are.