Machine and Process Management

What will it take to get to the next level of plant productivity?

Are you feeling the pressure to boost your profitability? In this increasingly globalized marketplace that feeling is here to stay. But one thing you can do to help better manage these pressures is ensure your asset and resource performance is optimized.

When talking about asset performance we must talk about asset management. That is, asset management in the context of maximizing the performance of a plant asset so you can move towards a “near-zero” breakdown record, and head towards asset performance that stays at (or as close to) optimum performance throughout its entire lifetime.

Balancing CAPEX and OPEX

More simply, I mean the difference between maximizing an asset’s lifetime OR optimizing an asset throughout its lifetime. It’s about balance. Balance between the costs (monetary and otherwise) of asset replacement (CAPEX) versus increased operational costs (OPEX) driven by aging assets. And it is very important that these two factors are balanced.

Coupled with the pressure on optimizing your costs is demographic considerations like aging population and the ever-increasing talent war which, combined, significantly impacts how you manage your assets. It means you will have less and less maintenance personnel available to maintain your plant and manage your assets. The good news is that asset management is on the rise. Indeed, industry analyst, ARC, says Enterprise Asset Management and Field Service Management (EAM/FSM) grew an “exceptional” 12.3% in 2012, and will achieve a CAGR rate of 6.8% from 2011 to 2016.

asset management

Moving away from “break and fix”

The overall direction is clear. We are moving away from “break and fix” and time-based maintenance strategies, towards preventive and predictive maintenance. At the same time we should also be taking a good look at how maintenance resources (your people) are deployed.

What’s interesting to note is how so many factors around this subject are interconnected – a sub-optimally managed asset will not only deliver below optimal performance, but will also most likely generate waste in your process. Take the simple example of a compressor – a piece of machinery with an objective to produce compressed air at a certain pressure. If this compressor is optimally functioning it will require a certain amount of energy to produce air at the specified pressure. Wear and tear on this compressor reduces its performance, and one of the consequences of this wear and tear is that the compressor will require more energy to produce the specified air pressure. This non-optimal asset performance is generating waste in your process, which is one source of incremental OPEX.

While this example is simple, it is also important to understand that there are many other important factors which impact asset performance, including:

  •  Performance and productivity of your maintenance resources – this includes your personnel, and also the systems you need in place to obtain detailed diagnostics and actionable information to allow those people to make better decisions and so increase their efficiency

 

  •  Types and status of the assets being managed – all assets are impacted by age and wear tear, but some are more critical to the running of your process and so will be more important to maintain in order to avoid any unexpected impact on production

 

  •  Availability and richness of the data you obtain about your plant and assets – this includes the granularity of the data, context within other data, and so on, and is important to be able to analyze the current situation and be able to project future scenarios based on that data

Stay tuned for part two of this blog where I will go into some of the developments that I see shaping the future of asset management.

In the meantime, please share with me what measures you have seen being used to help ensure asset and resource performance is optimized.

 


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