Improving Asset Reliability Is Like Investing in the Stock Market
December 11, 2017
I am not a Wall Street wizard who regularly follows public companies looking for the best investments. If you are like me, we wonder where to invest our money? The conventional wisdom seems to be that you should invest in products and services that you find yourself using. If you like it, and you see others liking it, then it is probably a good investment. I followed this advice a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself drawn to a coffee chain that I had not particularly noticed before. After a few months of including this stop on my route to work a couple of days a week, I observed that it was more crowded inside, and there were longer lines at the drive-thru. Some mornings I had to bypass it because the wait would cause me to be late to work. Then it dawned on me – I’m not the only one who has developed an affinity for this place, so the business must be doing something right. I bought some stock. It is up $2.43 in the 2 weeks since I purchased it. While admittedly not a rapid ascension to the top, it is at least up in value.
So what in the world does this have to do with maintenance? The answer is “common sense.” Things that usually make sense tend to be reasonable things to do. The trends towards predictive maintenance and asset performance management (APM) make sense, particularly in the age of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things.) It simply makes sense to use accurate data that is easily gathered about any machine to inform and manage its status. We’re already seeing the Internet of Things in our homes. We have security cameras around our home for protection. Our cars alert us when an oil change is needed. Our lights and thermostats are linked to our smartphones so we can make adjustments to conserve energy. So why not apply the same concept in commercial facilities? Why wouldn’t we let a motor tell us when it’s running hot? Why wouldn’t we let a pump tell us that it is experiencing excessive vibrations? Why wouldn’t we let an oven tell us that its internal temperatures have been varying outside of normal tolerances over the last hour? Also, let’s not forget the human factor. Why wouldn’t we enable an operator to easily alert maintenance via the CMMS/EAM system that they notice an anomaly in an asset?
These things make sense in equipment maintenance, and the technology to reveal and take advantage of this previously unused information is becoming more accessible and thus ubiquitous in manufacturing. And it just makes sense to get started with using these technologies now. You don’t have to tackle the entire plant floor at once. Begin with just one line. Learn how to put your common sense to work to achieve real business value in your maintenance operations. The same maintenance strategies don’t have to be applied to all of your assets. You need a toolkit of various strategies to be applied appropriately. Look at where IIoT fits into that toolkit, and how it can be applied to the appropriate asset issues. It makes sense to empower your maintenance organization with a complete set of technology tools that they can apply to the right situations. It makes sense to invest where others are also finding good coffee drinks… I mean finding good maintenance management solutions.