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Making the Move from Condition Monitoring to Management

July 17, 2007

“Condition monitoring is about data,” began Invensys’ Neil Cooper in his address to the 2007 Foxboro User Group gathering today in Boston. “But condition management is about creating the context, the collaboration and the workflow to deal with the conditions that arise.”

Condition management is a core component of the company’s larger asset performance management vision for helping companies to maximize return on their manufacturing assets, Cooper explained. To deliver business benefits, he said, we have to move maintenance from being reactive and preventive to being fully predictive. “Until we do, we can’t affect the business—we’re just chasing our tails.”

“It’s typically not a question of data, but of what you do with it.” Invensys’ Neil Cooper offered suggestions for justifying the implementation of condition management strategies.

The key incentives for implementing condition management include reducing unscheduled downtime, protecting equipment, improving safety and reducing unnecessary preventive maintenance. “Thirty to 50% of preventive maintenance is unnecessary and can represent 10-20% of total maintenance costs,” Cooper said. “This is a hard return-on-investment for moving from preventive to condition-based strategies.”

Functionally, Invensys’ approach to condition monitoring involves integrating and aggregating condition monitoring information—temperatures, pressures, vibration levels as well as outputs from more sophisticated condition-monitoring systems—and providing a means to easily formulate rules to trigger corrective action based on emergent situations that can be difficult to discern from isolated data trends. To ease implementation, the company’s offering features auto-discovery of network-connected assets, as well as templates for implementing typical condition management rules for common pieces of plant equipment such as pumps and valves.

Cooper also offered his suggestions for what companies might do first to get their feet wet in condition management. First off, he said, companies need to examine their basic condition-monitoring strategies, in order to determine if their current level of instrumentation is proper and adequate. “If not,” he added, “there are cost-effective wireless alternatives now available.”

Next, look at your “knowledge management” status, Cooper added. “Are you ready to deal with the information if you had it?” he asked. This often entails a renewed attention to training and to post-event root-cause analysis.

Finally, he said, don’t forget the cultural aspects. “Effective condition management requires communicating and collaborating across multiple functional groups—operations, maintenance and engineering. Set a roadmap for yourself and get started.”

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