Three Ways to Boost Your Predictive Maintenance Program

By Graham Heiner, European Delivery Manager, Asset Management

Predictive Maintenance is becoming more accessible and cost-effective with the decreasing cost of sensors, data collection techniques, low-cost data transmission options and the improvement of data processing. Skilled engineers and asset managers are finding it more affordable to apply Predictive Maintenance beyond critical assets.

However, there is still the perception that Predictive Maintenance requires a large investment through an expensive project or large transformation program. But smaller steps could be a good option to get some early wins with some “low hanging fruit”. And if you can then demonstrate value to your organization, maybe you will get that extra funding for more improvements.

Predictive Maintenance makes sense where it is cost-effective, justified by the asset risk profile and beneficial. So with costs coming down, and technology getting better, try identifying some specific use cases that could be easy to implement. They could provide a great benefit at potentially very affordable costs.

The following are three examples that demonstrate this approach. Although some of these may not meet your “ideal” concept of Predictive Maintenance, they certainly have the potential to boost your efforts in heading in that direction…

1. Overcome the Lack of Network or Wi-Fi with Mobile Technology

The lack of a data transmission network or Wi-Fi could be a huge hurdle to an organization, providing no means for a sensor to send data. In some industries, the assets are also relatively inaccessible for various reasons. But don’t let that stop you! A common use case is to utilize the technician’s mobile device to help. A Bluetooth sensor can be attached to the machine, some even magnetically, and when the technician is in proximity with their tablet or device, the data is collected and transmitted to the cloud where it can be processed and analyzed.

The Movilitas Asset Management Team has extensive experience with device readings for mobile solutions and I wanted to share what we’ve seen. These enhancements are very practical and could be a very good option in many use cases to help you move further to Predictive Maintenance and better asset monitoring.

2. Identify New Use Cases Driven by Sensor Innovation

Sensors are getting better and better, and it can really pay off to understand what is increasingly being offered. For example, I am constantly amazed at what is now offered in relation to lubricant management. For many asset types, good lubrication usage and management is essential to avoiding failures, including bearing failures on motors from contaminated lubricant.

When I was a young maintenance technician, I could have only dreamed about some of these sensors that monitor lubricants and provide data on lubricant and equipment health. Combine these with a well set-up ERP system, like SAP Plant Maintenance, and an effective Mobile solution for the technician – these technologies offer potentially extremely beneficial results where good lubrication management is essential. And let’s not forget it improves the safety of employees in cases where we need to monitor remote or hard-to-access points.

Therefore, a specific innovation may provide the trigger for a small project with huge benefits.

3. Utilize Data from Outside your Organization

There is a trend toward sharing of data that can be very beneficial for a Predictive Maintenance initiative. For example, SAP is creating the Asset Intelligence Network (AIN), where it is becoming easier for vendors and customers to share data in a structured and practical way. Why is this useful to your predictive maintenance program? Because more data helps with your predictive models.

Imagine you had 5 items of a particular type of equipment, and you were looking at the historical data. On such a small sample size, it may be hard to generalize on the expected behavior, or even determine what behavior is caused by your local environment. Sharing data makes this type of analysis easier and increases the level of confidence in any conclusions you make. Predictive Maintenance becomes much easier with this type of service providing a data “rocket booster”.

This is why Movilitas has included the SAP Asset Intelligence Network into its product portfolio. We see the enormous potential of data sharing and looking beyond one organization.

In Summary

Engineers and Asset Managers are well known for their ingenuity. Some good solutions could be closer than you think. Don’t wait around for the implementation of a large project, if one is not on the horizon. If you deal with assets that could benefit by moving towards improved condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, there are some good-value opportunities for specific technology improvements that could provide the best “bang for your buck”. Make sure you select a technology consultant who understands this well.

For more information about how Movilitas can help you provide value to your stakeholders through Asset Management technologies, visit our SAP Intelligent Asset Management overview.