Equipment alarms and IIoT systems are really valuable, when used well

Did anyone every tell you it’s better to “work smart” than it is to “work hard”? That idea applies in many contexts including running manufacturing equipment and the alarms on that equipment.

My good friend Jay Kriner, CMRP, wrote this article on when to act based on alarms from the equipment, and the value of it.

He discusses the three types of alarms (information, passive, and active), what they’re for, and how to use them to your advantage. He also tells some interesting stories on what happens when operators continually push the “ignore” button or reset thresholds, so they don’t get the alarms anymore.

The alarms are good examples of the equipment essentially raising its hand to say, “Hey, I need some help here…a little attention please.” Those warnings should be heeded, within the context of appropriate procedures that focus on safety, quality, and production.

Ignoring the alarms is the completely wrong mindset not only for the health of the equipment but also for production. In every story Jay tells the complete failure of the machine cost significantly more in time, money, and production downtime than if the equipment had been taking down for the maintenance the machine was asking for.

Another important point is IIoT systems can add a lot more value to alarms. IIoT systems can:

  • Record the alarms from the equipment for visibility and analysis;
  • Be configured to throw its own alarms where the machine can’t be configured to throw an alarm;
  • Analyze the alarms across all the connected equipment;
  • Provide better visibility across the plant to alarms and related equipment health; and
  • Drive more proactive action on the part of the Maintenance and Reliability team by integrating the IIoT solution with a CMMS (i.e., maintenance software system) to create and assign work orders for machines that need attention.

Providing more visibility, better information for decisions, and most importantly driving valuable action is where the alarms become most valuable.