Last time, we discussed how to prepare to implement an effective condition-based monitoring system for your operations.
In this month’s post, we’ll show you how to choose the right technology.
Choosing the Right Tool
With the operating parameters and failure modes defined, you can now add effective monitoring to your operations. Many companies currently employ humans to monitor the conditions manually. Maintenance rounds are a common part of maintenance staff duties. The employee will walk around with a clipboard, take measurements from the equipment, and then log the data into some log format. Ideally, they compare those data points to required operating conditions, and if they see some operating value out of bounds, identify impending issues.
Technology can help a lot here. A system such as an IoT software platform, can easily pull data from multiple pieces of equipment and automatically deliver warnings of potential issues.
There are two major components of success when implementing a technology-driven solution.
The Right Platform
The first key to success in a technology-driven monitoring solution is choosing an IoT software platform that is flexible enough to handle nearly any piece of equipment for configuring how the equipment operates, as well as the multiple ways the equipment could fail, and what automated notifications to send. Additionally, the software should be able to read the data from nearly any piece of equipment. Some software tools are proprietary to a specific hardware product and won’t work for all equipment, so you will want to avoid those.
A tool like ThingWorx from PTC has the flexibility to handle any piece of equipment and read data from nearly any data source. It can also be set up to provide warnings of any type, and it can integrate with a company’s CMMS. And it’s scalable. When installed, the reliability team can start small, tackling one component of a single piece of equipment for testing purposes. If that works, then they can easily add other components and equipment. The tools for setup and configuration allow for fast setup and long-term solutions.
Choosing the Right Factors to Monitor
The second key to a successful monitoring solution is understanding what the most impactful components, operating conditions, and failure modes of the component are. That information can be configured into your IoT software platform. Once an abnormal condition or failure mode is noticed by the automated system, it can throw an alarm, send a text message, or put in an automatic request for service from the maintenance team, etc.
Let’s put all of this info into a short example. For a high-pressure air compressor, one of the components is a pump. The pump’s purpose is to pump oil to the compressor lubrication system at a target pressure of 25 psi. The machine can continue operating without affecting the larger equipment even if the pressure is maintained above 20 psi. So if the pressure drops below the optimal 25 psi but hasn’t gone lower than 20 psi ThingWorx could throw a “yellow flag”. Then, if a maintenance person has the time they can look at it while it is still operating effectively. However, when the pressure drops below 20 psi, the system delivers a red flag that warrants immediate action.
Condition-based monitoring is important because 50% of manufacturers become aware of a problem only after a breakdown has occurred, which results in downtime, lost revenue, and high repair bills When an issue is caught and fixed before it breaks down, a company can expect a significant decrease in maintenance and repair costs as the equipment is protected from a more significant or catastrophic failure.