Reliability Advancements over a Generation

The editors of Maintenance Technology magazine asked me to write a column on technology advancements to improve reliability for process manufacturers and producers. I was excited to be asked and given the opportunity to share some thoughts!

The article, Viewpoint: Reliability Advancements Over a Generation, highlights some of these advancements. I’ll quote a few thoughts here and invite you to read the full article.

On the measurement of vibration:

Triaxial accelerometers can now measure vibration in the x, y and z axes from a single-mount location. Installation has become much easier with the wireless vibration transmitters now available. (That capability alone would have opened up many more pieces of rotating equipment to continuous monitoring had we been able to leverage it “back in the day.”)

On the diagnostics to interpret this vibration input:

Some specialized diagnostics are available to spot pitting in bearings to provide early warning of failures. Advanced notification means maintenance activities can be planned instead of reacted to… Other advanced diagnostics help spot resonant frequencies, misalignments, machinery impacts and lubrication issues, to name a few.

On the people component of reliability management programs:

Remote communications access is important to bridge the time and distance between plants and experts. These experts may work for the process manufacturer, the reliability technologies and services provider or be independent contractors. Condition-monitoring equipment and portable analyzers, though, have become so sophisticated that they can provide information from remote points to experts wherever they are located. Many companies are developing integrated strategies to connect experts to all of their plant sites, thus providing continuous expertise around the clock. Through early detection, analysis, recommendations and action, unscheduled downtime can be greatly reduced.

On managing the cybersecurity aspects of remote access:

The same set of best practices around control and instrumentation system security need to be applied to reliability-based systems. Much like a safety program, the process starts with having a security program in place. Also needed are a champion and high-level support to get the organization engaged in the importance of following secure practices and continuously finding ways to mitigate security risks.

My conclusion:

Changes in technology over a generation have been far-reaching in the areas of reliability and safe operations. They’ve also highlighted the need for specialization and the ability to connect experts to plant personnel in the quest to reduce unplanned downtime and increase the overall efficiency of manufacturing processes. Looking forward, I see continued expertise being added into the technologies to provide a clearer, more actionable recommendation set for operations staff to improve the performance of their facilities.

I hope you’ll give the article a read and share your thoughts on what’s changed and changes to come in the comments below. You can also connect and interact with other reliability professionals in the Reliability & Maintenance group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Thursday, November 6th, 2014 under Asset Optimization, Reliability.