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Modernizing Asset Management in Industrial Facilities: The Challenges and Solutions of Today and Tomorrow

While asset management has been around for centuries in one form or another, it’s shifted tremendously as the needs of industrial facilities have expanded. Chandana Mutharaju, a Maintenance and Reliability Engineer with more than 10 years of experience, offered her insights into the waves and patterns industrial facilities have seen as the market offers different approaches to asset maintenance.

More facilities are moving to preventative maintenance strategies

Industrial facilities are moving away from reactive maintenance to preventative, condition-based, or predictive maintenance strategies. This shift comes as industrial facilities mature from repairing assets after a malfunction to a strategy that attempts to get ahead of a problem, reducing downtime and cost.

A preventative maintenance strategy works to prevent any failure in the industrial facility by maintaining equipment at specific times or at specific intervals of use. Chandana shared, “Initially, when the concept of asset management was becoming notable, the management of assets was limited to interval-based maintenance activities and service activities.” These time-based maintenance (TbM) tasks are sometimes referred to as periodic maintenance or preventative maintenance. When industrial facilities employ this tactic, they provide routine maintenance tasks to specific assets on a specific schedule, or at fixed time intervals. This schedule continues, regardless of the asset’s condition. “Interval-based maintenance lacks two key things—online monitoring and continuous data analysis of every asset,” said Chandana.

Condition-based maintenance strategies focus on raising awareness on a single point of failure. The challenge with this strategy is that it doesn’t provide information about the health of the asset as a whole.

A predictive maintenance strategy uses machine learning and other technology to predict a failure before it occurs. “Technology is advancing exponentially in today's market,” said Chandana. “Modern strategies can be utilized in a number of ways to improve production time and reduce downtime.”

Those strategies include using tools and processes to provide operators with as much information as possible about each asset. Chandana shared, “These strategies also recommend keeping maintenance costs in check and checking the risk management of every asset.”

Digitizing your asset management approach can drive long-term results

To help industrial facilities drive longer asset life and improve asset performance, quality, and profitability, Chandana recommends digitization. “Digitization gives asset management a new approach. It drives many elements like work schedules, providing suitable resources for the job to be completed, analyzing the past failure history of any equipment, capturing live data and analyzing to identify trends and behavioral patterns of the equipment.”

Chandana shared the classic example of the Internet of Things. She recommends using the IoT as a scheduling tool, scheduling the maintenance based on the criticality and failure risk of every asset. “IoT could also gather real-time data on the machinery and send the analysis to the control center. This data analysis could be useful to trace the patterns of the machine,” said Chandana

Predictive maintenance and the optimization of maintenance team resources

Advanced technology offers industrial facilities a chance to employ predictive maintenance and the optimization of maintenance team resources. What does this look like? “The predictive maintenance or the condition monitoring of the equipment can be used to identify the root cause of an asset’s problem remotely,” said Chandana.

Before advances in technology, maintenance teams were required to go into the field and conduct analysis in person to understand why an asset failed. “Using certain technologies reduces the labor time and related costs where the resources of the maintenance team are optimized,” said Chandana. She shared an example: “Sensors can be installed that collect the historical failure data and log and the maintenance personnel can resolve the equipment issues remotely. If the issue cannot be resolved remotely, the technician should then make a visit to the equipment.”

In these scenarios, Chandana recommends that technicians streamline the process by gathering all necessary information including past failure history, probable root causes, operating procedures, and isolation methods of the equipment.


Full visibility into asset performance is the next step for most industrial facilities

While there are many KPIs industrial facilities can use to help them achieve full visibility into asset performance, Chandana recommends five that industrial facilities should prioritize, especially if they are just getting started with asset management or are looking to upgrade their current processes.

Those five KPIs include:

  1. MTTR - Mean Time to Repair
    Mean time to repair represents the time required to repair an asset. This could indicate if repair time is increasing, the asset might need a replacement. Chandana shared, “This information could be shifted to inventory management and also ensuring the maintenance operators are well-equipped and trained.”
  2. MTBF - Mean Time between Failures
    Mean time between failures measures the amount of time passing before an asset fails. “If MTBF is measuring very low, we can ensure that the asset is not over-maintained,” said Chandana.
  3. MTTF - Mean time to Failure
    Mean time to failure measures how long until the asset fails completely and needs replacement. Chandana shared a classic example, “A common example is the replacement of electric bulbs. This ensures that the equipment is installed and meets all functional specifications.”
  4. OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness
    Overall equipment effectiveness measures an asset’s productivity for a given time. This KPI is critical because it can measure how well your facility is utilized (to its full potential) vs. areas where there could be improvement. To get a clear view of ROI on run time for your facility, OEE is an important place to start.
  1. ITR - Inventory Turnover Ratio
    The inventory turnover ratio measures the proportion between the sales and the inventory. This data can tell you the number of times you sell your inventory over a specific period of time (most often an annual number). This KPI can be helpful as you determine the cost of your goods sold and your average inventory value.

Improving asset utilization and cost optimization for today and tomorrow

To ensure the success of asset maintenance for industrial facilities today and for the future, Chandana recommends a few key steps:

● Calculate and track the KPIs such as MTBF, MTTR, MTTF, OEE and ITR.

● Ensure the maintenance teams and operators are adequately trained

● Consider autonomous maintenance (where the operators are given the responsibility to conduct the routine preventive maintenance tasks.

● Maintain the spare part management and MRO management.

● Practice effective communication between various departments such as operations, maintenance and procurement.

● Improve preventive maintenance and reliability centered maintenance to ensure the current maintenance strategies are meeting the industrial benchmarking.

Ready to learn more about accelerating your journey to a smarter, more efficient industrial facility? Check out our eBook here to elevate your industrial facility maintenance processes.

Chandana Mutharaju
Reliability Engineer,
Baker Hughes

Chandana is a Maintenance and Reliability Engineer with more than four years’ experience in mining, power generation, oil & gas. Her technical expertise includes developing and optimizing preventive maintenance, conducting failure analysis, improving predictive maintenance, asset management and monitoring of various dynamic equipment.