Reduce unplanned downtime, endorse predictive maintenance

Recent webinar presentation answered range of attendee questions.

By Kevin Parker November 11, 2020

The cost of unplanned downtime includes more than just that of the parts and labor needed to fix a piece of equipment. Both tangible and intangible costs must be considered to calculate the true cost of unplanned downtime.

In early November, Plant Engineering hosted a webinar, sponsored by Leviton Manufacturing, on this very topic, “Reduce unplanned downtime, endorse predictive maintenance.”

Additionally, the webinar presenter, John Garbarino, a senior platform product manager with Leviton, noted maintenance programs employed to address unplanned downtime deliver benefits. Integrating condition-monitoring technology into an installed base of equipment delivers the means to respond to unplanned events quickly and safely while supporting predictive maintenance programs.

Attendees had numerous questions for John. A selection of those questions and his answers to them, are found below.

Q. What are the most important criteria when deciding whether to retire a piece of equipment or a machine?

Garbarino: There are many factors to consider. Aside from the investment cost of purchasing a new piece of equipment, some of the most important factors to consider include what is the cost of the ongoing maintenance of the equipment, how often it requires maintenance (and how much it disrupts operations), how much the equipment contributes to quality problems, how old it is (and how close is it to the projected end of life), and whether the old equipment contributing to safety problems.

Q. What is the best way to calculate overall (total) unplanned downtime cost?

Garbarino: Online resources can guide you in your calculations (or perform them outright for you). Be sure to take into consideration all of the hidden costs we outlined in the webinar.

Q. Does the Leviton solution use technology compatible with general industrial protocols?

Garbarino: Yes. Our communication interfaces include both Wi-Fi and Modbus RTU protocols.

Q. How can VARs like systems integrators assist their clients with adoption of advanced maintenance schemes?

Garbarino: One of the biggest challenge’s companies face embarking on a migration to more advanced maintenance schemes is understanding what technology is available and specifically which makes sense for their environment. VARs can be instrumental in advising which specific technology can be integrated with existing assets to achieve the desired results, without having to replace everything. VARs tend to have a broader knowledgebase of available options, so they can guide their clients in their journey. And, since training is a large component of any implementation, VARs are well-suited to provide these training services.

Q. Can you elaborate on the concept of conditioned-based maintenance (CBM)?

Garbarino: Condition-based maintenance relies on making maintenance decisions based on actual operating performance at any given time rather than time-based decisions determined from historical average performance.

Q. Can predictive maintenance be used in the insurance industry?

Garbarino: The insurance industry can use the predictive maintenance data on a macro level to help identify trends that impact useful life of equipment and lifetime maintenance costs, which impact things like premiums, claims processing, and even potential fraudulent claims.

Q. What are the hurdles to getting buy in?

Garbarino: Showing a return on investment (ROI) prior to investment is one of the biggest hurdles. That’s why it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your downtime cost.

Q. Does Leviton have something for electrical distribution monitoring?

Garbarino: Yes. Our mechanical interlocks can monitor phase voltage levels in branch circuits.

Q. How does Predictive Maintenance fit in with TPM or Total Productive Maintenance? How does condition based maintenance and predictive maintenance compare?

Garbarino: Predictive Maintenance (PdM) can be used to help achieve Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), as it can satisfy several of the “pillars” outlined in a TPM environment. The goals of PdM are a subset of the goals specified in TPM.

Q. Will Leviton be offering a Disconnects with Inform technology?

Garbarino: Leviton Mechanical Interlocks and Safety Disconnect switches (coming soon!) with Inform Technology can monitor voltage levels and anomalies that can be used for assessing the power quality within the branch circuit in which they are installed.

Q. How does the transition from reactive to predictive maintenance change staffing requirements?

Garbarino: Making the transition from purely reactive to predictive or prescriptive will require additional technical skills. Depending on the current skill set within your current team, it may be as a simple as additional training, or may require additional tech savvy team members.

Q. What criteria should a company use to evaluate and decide on whether to purchase predictive maintenance testing equipment or have an external company come to the plant and do all the condition-based maintenance?

Garbarino: One important criteria will be what type of monitoring is required: continuous or periodic. Periodic monitoring lends itself well to outside agencies, but if continuous monitoring is required (such as for power quality monitoring) then an in-house solution is best. However, periodic monitoring is not as effective as continuous monitoring as you may miss predictive insights that happen in between monitoring events (which means you really don’t have a fully predictive program).

Q. Some of the equipment in our fertilizer and power plants are 50 years old. How do we get confidence that predictive maintenance will benefit us? Who should take ownership of the asset health monitoring?

Garbarino: Generating good ROI estimates should give the confidence you are looking for. As to ownership of asset health monitoring, that will largely depend on your management structure. Whether you use a third-party to perform the health monitoring, or use internal maintenance personnel, I would think your plant manager would ultimately be responsible for making it happen.

Q. Are production lines being provided with wireless ethernet for wireless sensors (Wi-Fi)?

Garbarino: Mobile devices are now becoming commonplace in production areas, specifically for collaboration and maintenance activities, This trend, along with the emergence of wireless sensors, is driving the deployment of a variety of wireless technologies in production areas to accommodate these tools. Wi-Fi is just one technology (along with Bluetooth, BLE, LoRa, and some proprietary networking protocols) being deployed.

Q: Outside of oil analysis, vibration analysis and IR/heat analysis, what other types of predictive maintenance are you seeing out there?

Garbarino: Power quality (voltage and current) within the facility is becoming a more common focus of Predictive Maintenance programs.

Q: I work for FEMA inspecting disasters including various treatment plants, etc. It seems that the condition monitoring coupled with the prescriptive maintenance could supply the applicant and FEMA with an AS IS and a FORTHCOMING machine condition metric set. That could then be threaded into MITIGATION. Your thoughts?

Garbarino: That is precisely one of the primary benefits of incorporating these technologies. The goal is to eliminate uncertainties and provide insights that minimize disruptions to operations. You describe a use case that is well suited for these technologies.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media