Debunking Condition Monitoring Misconceptions

by , | Dec 19, 2022 | Asset Management, Digital Transformation, Industrial IoT, Reliability

Todd Walden

Todd Walden

Author and Blogger

The personnel landscape of processing plants has changed. Yesterday’s deep bench of experienced personnel has given way to leaner, more nimble groups supporting a wide variety of disparate technologies, often across an entire fleet. But while these teams are often smaller, they are also made up of digital natives—highly technical engineers who are used to constant access to critical information.

The best plants are taking advantage of the vast technical abilities of this new set of plant experts. When provided with access to critical, contextualized data on demand, these digital natives can drive their plants’ capabilities to new heights.

In a recent article in Processing magazine, Emerson’s Erik Lindhjem shared common misconceptions that often stand in the way of making the most of today’s digitally skilled personnel. These misconceptions frequently hinder teams implementing condition monitoring programs that could dramatically improve their digital transformation initiatives—but they don’t have to.

Boots on the ground

It makes sense to assume that if personnel aren’t walking around the plant, they aren’t aware of everything that is happening to their assets. However, tethering a plant’s best people to designated areas of the plant as part of scheduled manual rounds often keeps them from other valuable tasks. Maintenance rounds are time consuming, and they often require personnel to have decades of experience to identify and analyze the problems they come across.

Wireless sensors like Emerson’s AMS Wireless Vibration Monitor free busy technicians from manual rounds.

Condition monitoring technologies provide the same—if not better—information than that collected by manual rounds, and delivers it to technicians, with context and actionable advice, wherever in the plant they may be. Erik elaborates on the value in his article,

“Online condition monitoring does not eliminate the role of skilled reliability personnel, but rather redeploys those individuals to focus on analyzing, tracking and solving critical threats and defects in need of attention. Moreover, today’s best condition monitoring software provides instant plant health information accessible on mobile devices, so technicians are not tied to desks or predefined rounds.”

Change is good

It’s not just the youngest people in the plant who are digital natives. Today nearly everyone is using a wide variety of technologies to support and enhance their daily lives. Whether it is banking, streaming video, GPS navigation, shopping, or any of the thousands of other features available on our mobile phones, technology and instant data access is pervasive. As Erik explains, everyone in the plant expects access to technology solutions to make their jobs easier,

“Even the most experienced personnel can benefit from information at their fingertips to help them make better decisions. The best reliability personnel do not want to be stuck at workstations looking at old interfaces. Rather, they want instant access to data via modern software tools to help them make better decisions, whether they are in the control room, on the plant floor or even at home between shifts.”

Attracting and retaining the best personnel means providing them with tools to enhance their experience and untether them from the control room or maintenance staging area. In fact, the best personnel come out of school having already used these technologies for years, and will expect to see them in the jobs they pursue.

The best plants run on continuous monitoring

Condition monitoring technology is no longer an “extra.” The most effective plants are monitoring their assets 24×7 with tools like Emerson’s AMS Asset Monitor and software like AMS Machine Works. These technologies provide instant insights that help upskill new personnel more quickly, and help experienced personnel be more efficient and effective in their responsibilities. Continuous technologies help ensure nothing gets missed, and that even balance of plant equipment failures don’t interrupt production.

To read more about the misconceptions that can stand in the way of an effective condition monitoring strategy, and how to build a business case for implementing condition monitoring technologies in your facility, read the article in its entirety at Processing magazine.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.