1661879493039 Maintenanceadvisorarticle2

Decision-support software elevates asset reliability and plant performance

Sept. 15, 2021

“Plants can realize up to 1% improvement in production rates and reduce maintenance effort by up to 30%.” Schneider Electric’s Manoj Chandrasekharan discussed the very tangible, bottom-line benefits attributable to the company’s EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor software.

Process manufacturers universally strive to maximize both throughput and efficiency while minimizing downtime and costs. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor can advance these critical goals and more, according to Manoj Chandrasekharan, global director, asset management portfolio, Schneider Electric, who spoke about the company’s condition-based maintenance and decision-support software during this week’s Schneider Electric Innovation Talks, for users of the company’s Foxboro process automation systems and Triconex safety systems.

“Few things cause bigger headaches than unexpected events,” said Chandrasekhara. “They disrupt production and increase the risk of personnel injury and environmental incidents. They also lead to shutdowns and affect human lives. Maintenance Advisor helps to minimize these disruptions.”

From a maintenance perspective, factories want to move from a reactive to a condition-based maintenance strategy. Maintenance Advisor monitors Schneider and non-Schneider plant assets in real time, identifies the bad actors and then offers corrective solutions to help drive better maintenance decisions 

“Maintenance Advisor can monitor hundreds of assets, all in real time, and it’s vendor-neutral,” explained Chandrasekharan. “It detects bad actors, and its diagnostics include severity and impact. It recommends solutions, so you can take corrective action.” 

And as a complement to Maintenance Advisor, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure DCS Advisor can be used to predict potential issues in EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS controllers and network switches, sometimes six to 10 days before failure.

“These EcoStruxure Advisor applications monitor intelligent assets, such as controllers, drives and motor starters, as well as non-intelligent, non-connected assets,” explained Chandrasekharan. 

Plants utilizing multiple protocols, as well as varied asset, vendor, system and data types, end up with poor efficiency. But Maintenance Advisor is designed to simplify three tasks: condition monitoring in real time, making better, informed decisions from one unified view, and reducing maintenance costs.

“Maintenance operations need a unified and simplified working environment,” he said. “To drive the right actions at the right time, the severity and details need to be displayed intuitively.”

One customer testimonial came from a pulp mill, which had problems with valve failures and faulty limit switches. The mill realized it needed to get away from a reactive approach to maintenance and make its way toward predictive maintenance. The valve position feedback was a hard signal, so capturing it required no additional wiring. The mill built a valve health page, so personnel were alerted to valve issues and could take corrective action before failure.

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With some wins under its belt, the maintenance department came to Schneider Electric and purchased EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor about four years ago. It’s made identifying and troubleshooting valve issues much easier, and it displays valve condition right on the DCS console. And with its own Maintenance Advisor database for the operational life of assets and a unified view of plant asset health, mill personnel can now make smarter, connected decisions. 

And the typical bottom-line result? “Plants can realize up to 1% improvement in production rates and reduce maintenance effort by up to 30%,” Chandrasekharan said, attributing those returns to improved throughput and uptime; reduced maintenance effort; reduced health, safety and environmental risk; and improved organizational effectiveness. 

This nets out to a three-month payback for one’s investment in EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor—well above most organization’s investment threshold. And that’s not even counting the peace of mind that comes with real-time visibility into the health of one’s assets.