Move over downtime – hello uptime

The face of maintenance management is constantly evolving. For decades we ticked the “it is functional again box” after an equipment breakdown – and we were okay with it. Today, technology makes it possible to foresee when an asset will fail and what we can do to prevent it – often in realtime.

The traditional definition of uptime is: “the percentage of time that your critical equipment is 100% operational”. Is this doable or pie in the sky? Some would say if all the stars align and you are lucky to work with new equipment, it might be the case.

Our condition monitoring experts say that it is doable. Cosmic stars aside, the condition monitoring field has several star performers that can work in tandem with an asset management strategy, maintenance tactics and proper work management processes to make reliability your reality.

To help you move from a defensive to an offensive strategy, we shed some light on condition monitoring’s value as a preventive maintenance tactic.

Condition-based maintenance is a maintenance tactic consisting of a set of tasks where an inspection or test task (condition monitoring task) is performed to verify the condition of the equipment. This leads to corrective follow-up work if the condition is approaching an unacceptable state.

Identifying potential failures with a wide range of technologies

The asset condition can be monitored using a variety of technologies, such as:

  • vibration analysis
  • oil analysis
  • ultrasound technology
  • infrared thermography
  • partial discharge detection

Simplistically, these technologies are a data gathering technique to assess asset health and identify potential failures before they develop into functional failures. Their core purpose is to attempt to create the largest possible potential to functional failure (P-F) interval in which maintenance can be scheduled and completed.

As condition monitoring technologies evolve and equipment becomes more intelligent, more technologies continue to come to the fore supporting condition-based maintenance.

What are the benefits of using condition monitoring technologies?

As we’ve discovered, condition monitoring technologies can play a crucial role in providing realtime data about the condition of assets, helping to identify potential problems before they become serious issues, helping to optimise maintenance activities, and ultimately enabling organisations to achieve their AM goals while improving the performance of their assets, such as:

  • Early detection of issues: Condition monitoring technologies can detect problems with assets before they become serious issues. This allows timely interventions to prevent downtime, reduce maintenance costs, and improve equipment reliability.
  • Equipment optimisation: Condition monitoring technologies can provide valuable insights into the performance of assets, which can be used to optimise equipment operations. For example, data from vibration analysis can detect imbalance, vibration, bearing failure and resonance conditions before they cause catastrophic failure and determine the best operating conditions for equipment, helping reduce wear and tear and improve performance.
  • Cost reduction: By detecting problems early and optimising equipment performance, condition monitoring technologies can help to reduce maintenance costs and minimise downtime. This leads to further cost savings associated with lost production and emergency repairs and improves return on investment.
  • Improved equipment reliability: By identifying potential problems and performing maintenance before they become serious issues, condition monitoring technologies improve the reliability of assets. This leads to improved equipment availability and reduces the risk of unplanned downtime.
  • Increased equipment life: By performing maintenance at the right time, condition monitoring can help extend the assets’ life. This reduces the frequency of replacement, leading to further cost savings.

The benefit of deploying condition monitoring technologies goes further. As an example, we consider what risks condition monitoring can avert in a power plant.

What risks can condition monitoring avert at a power plant?

  • Safety risks: Power plants are dangerous places, and equipment failure can result in serious safety risks to personnel, such as electrical shocks and burns, boiler fires and explosions, and contact with hazardous chemicals. By detecting problems early and performing maintenance before they become serious issues, condition monitoring technologies help to reduce the risk of injuries or even fatalities.
  • Environmental risks: Oil spills resulting in water and soil pollution and the release of toxic chemicals as air and water pollution are huge environmental threats. Condition monitoring technologies help to prevent equipment failure and reduce the risk of such environmental incidents.
  • Financial risks: Power plants are expensive assets, and equipment failure can result in significant financial losses. By reducing downtime and improving equipment reliability, condition monitoring technologies can help to reduce the financial risks associated with equipment failure.
  • Reputation risks: Power plants are often in the public eye, and equipment failure can damage the organisation’s reputation. By improving equipment reliability and reducing downtime, condition monitoring technologies can help to minimise the risk of damage to the organisation’s reputation.

Condition monitoring technologies will add significant value if correctly used as part of your maintenance strategy. Downtime on your selected critical assets can be a thing of the past.

Contact us and start on your voyage of aligning your condition monitoring stars to reach your uptime goals.

Look out for our next edition, where we unpack the use of specific technologies to secure that elusive 100% uptime with switchgear.

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