Plant Service Magazine recently published an article titled “8 Financial Reasons to Deploy Predictive Maintenance Technologies,” in which they made a case for employing real-time monitoring on critical plant equipment. Their reasons are compelling, and SiteWatch has direct applicability to most of them:

  • Preventative Maintenance Creates Unnecessary Work
  • Unnecessary Maintenance Can Introduce Equipment Failures
  • Condition Monitoring Enables Better Maintenance Planning
  • Predictive Maintenance Helps Satisfy Agency Regulations
  • Labor is a Finite Resource
  • Knowing Which Equipment Is Critical Drives Down Maintenance Costs
  • Monitoring & Analysis Improves Planned Outage Efficiency
  • Detecting Problems While Equipment is Under Warranty Saves Money

Dedicating labor resources to fixing equipment that doesn't need fixing is obviously wasteful. Worse yet, inadvertently damaging equipment while you are doing the service work is unnecessarily expensive. There is only so much manpower available to a maintenance manager. With hundreds of critical items in your plant, how can you possibly know what needs immediate attention or repair?

An energy-monitoring system can form a solid basis for a comprehensive predictive maintenance plan by linking all critical equipment to an online platform that records and analyzes the condition and energy use of each item. Recently, IOT-based real-time wireless monitoring has become more reliable and affordable. Plant operators can now monitor hundreds, if not thousands, of equipment parameters to determine when problems are occurring.

Two real-world examples:

Three similar pumps serving a common cooling-water system might show one unit consuming very low power compared to the other two, and investigation might reveal a problem with that pump’s impeller reducing flow reducing production throughput.
If several similar-sized compressors in a plant’s compressed air system are monitored and found to be constantly operating unloaded (producing zero air, but still consuming power), this could indicate an issue with a manual compressor control strategy. A problem like this can be resolved by placing the compressors in automatic mode and properly sequencing pressure set-points, steps sometimes overlooked by maintenance staff and plant operators, resulting in improvement in operations (and energy savings) easily verified.

Monitoring systems record operational history, allowing benchmarking and comparisons over time. Knowing how equipment should function by observing ideal operating- or load-profiles allows maintenance staff to troubleshoot unexpected equipment failures by piecing together events leading to the start of any problem.

With a dependable monitoring system, a plant can reduce new capital costs by avoiding unnecessary investment in new equipment.