Co-Founder & Chief Executive at ChristianSteven Software, a report automation and business intelligence software company.
Industries that are traditionally asset-heavy, such as utilities, have an extra challenge facing them: performing successful asset performance management on an ongoing basis to ensure those assets are generating revenue, not costing money due to underperformance or an unexpected stoppage. While much is being made of data analytics these days, perhaps one of its most powerful capabilities is its ability to keep your current assets performing at the most productive level possible.
Maximizing Asset Returns Through Data Analytics
Assets owned by a business are not passive by their nature. It may appear that certain assets, such as buildings and installed equipment, exist to serve the needs of the internal operations, but a deeper examination reveals the interconnectedness of all your assets. Following this line of thinking, you soon realize that no asset stands independent of the rest of your operations. Downtime for one piece of equipment often creates a negative ripple effect across the entire operation, whether it is immediately perceived or not.
These facts point to the need for proper and successful asset performance management at every level of the operation. Fortunately, the emergence of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) appears at the most relevant time for asset-heavy and asset-dependent enterprises. Combining IIoT with data analytics can empower your business in ways you did not think existed. With the ability to gain a full and transparent overview of your asset operations, you will also begin to see and understand how all of your assets are interrelated and interdependent. This empowers you to better anticipate interferences and interruptions, which in turn provides you with the ability to intercept and avoid unexpected downtimes and equipment crashes.
Forecasting And Managing Asset Performance Needs
We all know about schedule equipment and asset maintenance: managing preventive maintenance initially appears to be a fairly automated process that can be entered into a calendar, put on a count cycle or based upon timed usage. Interestingly though, this seemingly important process only addresses about 18% of equipment failures, while an astounding 82% of failures are related to random events, which on the surface have no apparent pattern.
So while there is value in performing preventive maintenance, it becomes crystal clear that this process does not anticipate even a quarter of potential asset failures that can haunt a business, keeping it operating below optimal levels of performance. Clearly, there is a demand to cover the majority of asset failures once more data analytics can step to the forefront to predict and prevent unexpected asset failures.
Employing Predictive Maintenance
There is a term for this important process: predictive maintenance. The idea that this can potentially capture and prevent up to 82% of typical asset failures makes it a process whose time has clearly arrived.
Predictive maintenance employs condition monitoring, which intends to deliver the advance notification of a potential or certain failure. This in turn enables your technical team to notify the maintenance team so they can schedule and perform ad hoc maintenance tasks prior to a failure occurring. The three most common methods of deploying condition monitoring can be broken down as follows:
1. Trends and calculations: This entails monitoring trend charts and using mathematical calculations to get an appropriate snapshot of your company assets using true data values.
2. Inspections and evaluations: Stationary plant equipment (i.e., boilers, piping, heat exchangers) should be inspected and evaluated on a periodic basis using infrared, ultrasonic, corrosion or oil analysis to identify its current condition and potential problems.
3. Sensor installations: Equipment that rotates or performs other regular motions can have sensors attached that can measure and report any unexpected behaviors or processes so that it’s prepared to sound the appropriate alarm to proactively prevent an asset failure.
Increasing Value Through Unified Collaboration
To develop an effective asset performance management operation requires teamwork across divisions. This involves combining different teams into one cohesive unit, going beyond cooperation and moving into an atmosphere of collaboration. This is a culture you always want to encourage, dissolving the borders and walls that separate various departments so your staff see each other as equally valuable and essential extensions of the same enterprise and making the alignment of goals easier and clearer.
Viewing your enterprise holistically, it is a perfect representation of individuals working to function together in the sea of humanity; the value of each individual component increases as more people come together to work as one unit. People working in unison tend to appreciate their own efforts as well as the efforts of their participating colleagues; there is nothing quite so magical as uniting as one and elevating intuitive communications and interactions to entirely new levels. When this occurs, you are watching a team of like-minded and motivated partners reaching peak performances as a group — a rare phenomenon in most companies — but one that can be nurtured into becoming a regular event for your operations by encouraging and practicing unified collaboration.
Finally, taking a macro view of this approach reveals a deeper, more essential truth: Your business is really one asset, composed of a variety of smaller assets in the form of physical equipment, buildings and machinery. Besides your inanimate assets, never forget your living assets — the team of players who represent the heart and lifeblood of your business.
By developing a culture that lives and breathes a collaborative spirit, you are making the most of your people assets. Successful asset performance management will include processes that predictively and positively maintain your people assets, anticipating and intercepting the breakdowns that often occur between team players and company departments. This ensures all your assets, inanimate and breathing, are performing at their peak level, delivering maximal returns to your stockholders.
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