Out of the blue, one of the key electric motors at your facility breaks down. That entire production line comes to a grinding halt (often literally, too). You have to quickly find where the spare motor is, get it ready to install and pull the failed motor. And when the motor failed, it may have taken some other components with it that need to be replaced.
Downtime can seem random, but the good news is that you don’t have to leave downtime to chance! With the wise use of condition monitoring technology and predictive maintenance, you can minimize unplanned downtime and the extensive costs associated with it.
Unplanned Downtime is a Major Problem
Unplanned downtime refers to downtime that occurs as a result of an unexpected failure. That unexpected failure is usually related to equipment, such as a critical electric motor or an overhead crane, or unplanned maintenance. And no matter what industry you are in, unplanned downtime is a serious issue.
Downtime means loss of production, and loss of production is extremely costly. Unplanned downtime is far costlier, however; not only is there the monetary costs involved with emergency maintenance and repair, but it can also impact your company’s reputation as the loss of productivity causes customers to lose their trust in your ability to meet supply chain needs.
Minimizing downtime, on the other hand, would reduce costs and help you retain the good reputation you have with your customers. But how can you plan for downtime when you don’t know when a piece of equipment is going to break down or require emergency maintenance? The most effective way to take the guesswork out of unplanned maintenance lies in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.
Condition monitoring, as the name implies, involves monitoring the condition of key pieces of equipment using testing and measurement instruments and technology to gather key data and characteristics about critical machines in your facility.
Methods of Condition Monitoring
There are a host of methods for monitoring equipment and components, including …
- Electrical monitoring
- Motor circuit analysis
- Oil and fluid analysis
- Vibration analysis
- Thermography and Temperature monitoring
- Ultrasonic testing
- Laser interferometry
There is also PdMA, which stands for Predictive Motor Analysis. This is a set of testing methods specific to the function and performance of the electric motors that are often the driving force behind the other equipment in your facility.
In some instances, remote condition monitoring can be used. In such cases, the data can be measured and transmitted automatically, such as basic temperature and electrical monitoring data. Other types of data, such as thermography and ultrasonics, are performed periodically in person by a qualified technician.
Data from Condition Monitoring
Methods such as this allow data to be gathered on the behavior of the machines and components at your facility. But raw data isn’t much help as you try to plan downtime for maintenance and repair. Some data needs to be analyzed by a trained professional to be useful, such as full spectrum analysis based on vibration data or statistical analysis. Other data needs to be evaluated using statistics or visualized with charts and graphs.
Benefits of Condition Monitoring
As that data is collected over time, certain trends become apparent. These trends can point to an issue that has developed, such as a bearing that is wearing out or an imbalance in rotating machinery that will soon lead to damage of other components within it. It can point to electrical irregularities in an electric motor or air leaks from pneumatic equipment.
However, condition monitoring data doesn’t just alert you when something goes wrong. It can also help you determine when maintenance is needed. Rather than only performing maintenance when something goes wrong or when the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule says it should be done, you can customize your maintenance plans to the equipment in your facility. For example, your maintenance team may be replacing key filters after they are almost choked with contamination or, on the other hand, replacing them when they are still clean. Condition monitoring can help you determine the ideal time to perform such maintenance tasks when the data feeds into a predictive maintenance plan.
Under predictive maintenance, key maintenance tasks are performed when needed, not just when a machine fails or when your schedule says it’s time. Basically, information and trends pulled from condition monitoring data are used to inform your maintenance practices.
Benefits of Predictive Maintenance
When predictive maintenance is combined with condition monitoring, you can detect and address problems long before they result in an unexpected shutdown, control lead times for extensive repairs, and damage to other components. For example, you don’t have to wait until you hear an anti-friction bearing vibrating in your electric motor to know it needs replacement soon. The condition monitoring equipment can pick up on bearing issues long before they become obvious to your technicians.
Predictive maintenance also gives you control over when maintenance (and the downtime associated with it) occurs. But there’s more: as your predictive maintenance plan is followed, your equipment will become more reliable. This leads to fewer instances of unexpected equipment failure, reduced M&O and repair costs, and a more reliable relationship with your customers. In addition, predictive maintenance will extend the useful life of the equipment your facility has invested in.
You can eliminate most of the guess work out of unplanned downtime with condition monitoring technology and a predictive maintenance approach. And at Hi-Speed Industrial Service, we have the tools, technology and expertise to help implement predictive maintenance at your facility. We can transform your maintenance practices from a cost to an asset. With our predictive maintenance services, you will see reduced maintenance requirements, elimination of breakdowns, reduced downtime for your machines, and even increased production. Contact us today to find out more and take a first step to saving thousands of dollars…and headaches!