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Improve Maintenance Methods to Better Handle Equipment Failures

Stephen Lacy of Belden explains the high costs of reactive maintenance and how moving to more proactive—and even predictive—maintenance can be achieved without major investments and executed in small, easily incorporated steps.


Quick hits:

  • Find out what the major mechanical, electrical, and user causes of equipment failure are and what types of equipment are more likely to fail.
  • Why reactive maintenance can be so costly.
  • Conducting predictive maintenance without specialized predictive maintenance software.
  • How to evaluate different equipment failure prediction approaches.

Related to this episode:


David Greenfield, Automation World: So with all of those reasons and types of failures that are common that we've been discussing here so far, you know, it's there's still the fact that many manufacturers still rely on reactive maintenance rather than being more proactive. So based on your experience working with end users and industry, can you talk about what the typical cost factors are that are associated with this more generally used reactive approach?

 Stephen Lacy, Belden: Repair or replacement of the failed components obviously, is the first thing but that's assuming it can be quickly sourced and shipped and we all know that is that can be quite challenging nowadays, there's maintenance labor to disassemble repair and then reassemble the equipment. And depending on where the failed component is, you know, within the machine or the plant area, that may require working at height, which has an associate of which has an associated risk. There's makeup Production labor which may be required during overtime hours. unplanned maintenance can also have a safety component again depending on the hazards involved random failures puts a facility into an off normal operational state that the upstream and downstream equipment and the operations team may not be prepared for. So, you definitely want you know, you would like to avoid that if you win when you can. equipment failures can greatly lower the production KPIs of a plant or a facility. And unreliable production equipment can create an atmosphere of uncertainty over whether production goals can be met. So the goal here is to really ensure that the production environment is set up and is robust enough. So meeting production goals can be solely based on personnel performance, and not on machine or equipment issues. So you definitely like to get rid of those. Finally, production delays are always a concern, since they could make your customer try a competitor's product.

 David Greenfield, Automation World: And that's an area you know, you would you'd like to you'd like to stay away from, for all the obvious reasons. They're absolutely, yeah. So you know, right now, you know, we're talking about reactive versus proactive maintenance. But, you know, across industry right now, there's a lot of interest in predictive maintenance to allow for even greater levels of proactive maintenance. But is it possible without specialized predictive maintenance software to predict when equipment is going to fail?

Stephen Lacy, Belden: It is, yes, that's, that's a condition statement, but it's getting better, better and easier all the time. We start by first identifying all the production of production critical components and equipment in the is in the automation, networking sensors and electrical component realm. If, if the facility of the plant does not have drawings or accurate, accurate drawings, then sketches are fine, possibly with photos. Once you know what you have, the next step is start by installing inexpensive wireless sensors. Those are nice because they operate outside of your current you know it and OT networks which are production critical. The sensors available nowadays can measure position, current motion, distance, pressure, velocity, you name it. So you're there's an inexpensive sensor to identify most, excuse me most, most any, most any critical parameter. Next is replaced failed power supplies, with smart monitored supplies. There are some units out with IO link that's built in. And some of the parameters that are included in that link is actually the remaining useful life of the supply, which plays to the to the predictive analytics nature of the exercise. installed network monitoring software to detect when a network switch may be starting to fail or has failed, you'll see spikes in network traffic, that that don't align to anything else and those may be indicative of an impending failure. And you can install wireless motor vibration and temperature sensors on motors with an analytic software package. And I would just note that the solution ideas described can operate either on the existing facility networks or they can be on a separate smaller network dedicated just to the equipment monitoring and analytics.

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