Traditionally, professionals who deal with maintenance in their manufacturing facilities have combined different techniques to optimise all maintenance tasks. These included both qualitative techniques and were used to predict possible failures and mitigate downtime in their manufacturing facilities. However, there is a tool that can help optimise tasks in real-time. This tool is called predictive maintenance. If you were wondering what this technique is, and how it can be used, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will find a detailed explanation of predictive maintenance and its uses in the business world.
What exactly is predictive maintenance?
Predictive maintenance represents an amazing maintenance strategy that can allow you to prevent breakdowns. It is the most advanced approach that exists today when it comes to managing maintenance within process plants. The way you can look at it is as a subset of predictive analytics. This strategy uses AI/ML, the Internet of Things, as well as big data. The goal is to monitor all of the equipment and check for part failure. There are, of course, different predictive maintenance techniques you can use. You just have to choose the one that best suits your business’s needs.
How does it work?
In theory, predictive maintenance is quite simple. The way it works is by gathering data about all your assets, and from there on, it can extract information that can allow you to calculate when exactly you need to perform maintenance. When it comes to practice, predictive maintenance can be divided into three stages: data collection, data mining and calculations, and machine learning.
As mentioned above, the goal of predictive maintenance is predicting the breakdowns that might occur. And to be able to do so, this system uses sensors that can collect information in real-time. That is, you can track the performance of your equipment live. Of course, these sensors can detect different types of data, and it all depends on the techniques you intend to use in the monitoring process. You can control anything from pressure and temperature to vibration, noise level, and corrosion level.
If you only accumulate data but do not know how to exploit them, you will not be able to predict any failures that might occur. This is where the Internet of Things, mentioned above, comes into play. This tool allows the sensors to send all collected information to the central system or software that analyses the data and allows you to see what is going on. In systems where the various assets are integrated, using predictive maintenance is very effective.
Calculations and machine learning
If you can only act when sensors detect anomalies, it is predicting the failures, but just detecting already existing ones. Fortunately, predictive maintenance can be used to build and apply algorithms that give you sort of a prognosis of breakdowns that might occur. First, it is usually based on maintenance logs, statistics, and equipment history. But, further on, artificial intelligence can detect anomalies early, find the right correlations and give you intelligent suggestions that can help you prevent failure.
Which businesses can benefit from predictive maintenance?
This amazing tool can bring benefits to various types of businesses. But, it might be the most popular amongst process manufacturing companies, as they have numerous interconnected moving parts, and practically every part of the equipment is vital. Some of these industries are oil and gas industries, refineries, chemical processing plants, cement plants, as well as pharmaceutical industries. But, no matter what kind of business you might have, if you need any failure prediction tools, you can use predictive maintenance for sure.
How predictive maintenance can benefit your business
If you have a manufacturing company of any kind, using predictive maintenance is a much better idea than using reactive or preventive maintenance. As in any manufacturing business, each plant has many pieces of equipment, and all of them need to perform correctly if you want the production to go smoothly. However, if there are any possible mistakes in any of them, predictive maintenance will allow you to act on time and avoid bigger failures. This is especially useful in those cases when a really expensive part of equipment might be affected. But, when you catch the problem while it is small, it will be a lot easier and less expensive to repair.
The reason why you can do this is that the predictive maintenance system will give you an early condition warning. From there on, you can move the relevant piece of equipment to the top of your maintenance management schedule. They will be able to repair or replace the problematic part, and prevent your business from facing huge expenses.
Examples of application:
Motor circuit analysis
This type of analysis uses a technique called electronic signature analysis. It can be applied to assess engine degradation, to scan for short-circuits, as well as insulation and gears. Besides analysing the circuit and the components that belong to it, it can evaluate the voltage as well as the current that enters the motor. Of course, this type of analysis can work on both DC and AC motors and can operate even when the equipment is running.
Acoustic analysis can be used to detect any issues in a machine’s technical performance. The way it works is by detecting changes in the sound frequencies. As every machine makes at least some sort of noise, the changes in its frequency can signal that there is some sort of issue. For example, it can signal that there is a leak or a pressure change somewhere. This technique is most popular in applications for air compressors, pipes and plumbing, fans, and vacuum systems.
When it comes to oils in manufacturing systems, it is very important to test their viscosity, as well as the amount of water and amount of metals present in them, etc. This is why oil analysis is so important. For instance, in a hydraulic system, it is crucial to check for the by-products of overheating and erosion that can occur as the system ages. Some other applications include turbines, evaluation of engines, and lubricant levels.
Predictive maintenance is an amazing tool that you can use no matter what kind of manufacturing business you might have. It can allow you to see earlier if any breakdowns are going to happen and therefore save your business tons of money.