Automated maintenance systems are no substitute for experience

Regarding a recent article on automated condition monitoring systems and general interest in that type of technology, I thought that you might be interested in a recent experience of mine. My father is in assisted living. As everyone knows, this is very expensive. The facility recently entertained a cost cutting offer.

11/01/2006


Regarding a recent article on automated condition monitoring systems and general interest in that type of technology, I thought that you might be interested in a recent experience of mine.

My father is in assisted living. As everyone knows, this is very expensive. The facility recently entertained a cost cutting offer. A company proposed significant cost reductions in nursing by installing the Automated Codger Health Evaluation (ACHE) system. This system would eliminate the need for nurses to go room to room to perform periodic check on residents by installing smart data collection systems that monitor the residents' condition. Pulse rates were checked in bed and while seated, temperature and saliva could be checked in front of the bathroom mirror and I won't describe what happened when they needed 'private' time.

For some reason the company's proposal was rejected. As an engineer with a masters degree in business, I was confused by this. It seemed to be a perfect marriage of technological and economical synergies. Alas, I suppose Dad will just continue to see the nurse.

Obviously this is a fabrication, but it serves to make a point in machinery systems. I still believe in collecting my own data for condition monitoring. I find things during field work that are impossible to see through any instrumented system. Fresh oil drips, odd sounds, hot casings, broken belts are but a few of the things I see. I also have discussions with people on the floor that are at least as enlightening as a spectra or an infrared image.

My bottom line is this: An automated system is a wonderful compliment to periodic condition exams, but it isn't a substitute.

Douglas K. Smithman, P.E.

EMP Engineering Services, Inc.

Dresher, PA





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