Maintenance is an every day fact of life in heavy-asset industries. Yet whether you’re working with jet engines or gas pipelines, maintenance can often be the source of massive organizational inefficiency. A lack of comprehensive data and analytics is causing companies to waste enormous sums on redundant, time-based maintenance.
Meanwhile, without visibility into the actual conditions of an asset, operators are overlooking serious faults until it becomes too late, leading to failures and unplanned downtime.
“You'll have times when people will have asset failures two days after they were at the asset,” says Fred Schults, Principal Architect at GE. “They're not always seeing the right things. They're not always making the right decisions.”
Asset performance management (APM) software is enabling organizations to adopt a more sophisticated strategy by leveraging real-time data to capture an accurate picture of the conditions inside a piece of equipment. Maintenance can then be tailored to the actual facts on the ground.
It’s a far cry from the simplistic time-based maintenance approach still employed by many in industries ranging from energy to aviation.
Time-based maintenance “is the same thing we all do with our automobiles,” says Derek Porter, General Manager of asset performance products for GE. “We'll do an oil change after six months or after X thousands of miles. Companies schedule maintenance the same way. They may have a piece of equipment that's actually wearing out, but they don't see that because they're not doing it on a monitored or conditioned basis.”
Rather than scheduling maintenance around arbitrary criteria, APM looks at what’s actually going on inside an asset, both in real-time and historically, to determine what needs to occur and when. This proactive approach offers several benefits. Operators save money and manpower by reducing unnecessary work, which also mitigates the risk of accidental damage.
The same framework also enables companies to enact numerous workforce efficiencies by intelligently stacking together work orders.
Without visibility into the actual conditions of an asset, operators are overlooking serious faults until it becomes too late, leading to failures and unplanned downtime.
“Let's say in the electric world you call me out to your house because you're smelling gas—right now the person just gets dispatched out there. They don't realize that maybe there's five other work orders open in that area that the guy could do while he's out there. That's a base level of work order bundling that will save 20 to 50 million dollars a year,” Schults says.
“With analytics, we can start having more effective maintenance strategies as well as taking a longer term view into how you optimize your entire workforce.”
By providing a holistic view into the health of an organization’s assets and the tools needed to effectively parse through all the data, APM is helping operators move from the reactive and dated methodologies costing them millions each year, and instead embrace a proactive maintenance strategy driven by data with an eye to mitigating downtime, increasing asset life and eliminating waste.
By any measure, APM is still a nascent technology growing more advanced with each day, but organizations looking to right size their maintenance schedules and stay ahead of the curve can learn more here.