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Changing the Maintenance Focus

(Sidebar to "Technology-based Maintenance Gains Traction" from the November issue of Automation World)

Planned outage for maintenance at the Ash Grove Cement Co. plants was a problem. “It’s a challenge to schedule maintenance work when you run 24 hours a day,” says Ryan Farr, the corporate reliability manager for Ash Grove, based in Overland Park, Kan. But planned outages are necessary to avoid unplanned downtime. “If the kiln goes down, we’re looking at the possibility of losing as much as $3,000 per hour. And typically, the kiln drives our maintenance outages."

At its Durkee, Ore., plant, Ash Grove rolled out an enterprise asset management (EAM) system from Avantis, a Burlington, Ontario, Canada-based unit of Invensys. The EAM program was synchronized with the plant’s maintenance excellence process (MEP) system in order to improve plant maintenance. The system allowed the Durkee plant to switch from preventive to predictive maintenance. “In the past, the approach was reactive—something had to break, and then available resources were deployed to fix it,” says Farr. “Now, with the combination of MEP supported by Avantis, we focus on preventive and predictive maintenance.”

As well as utilizing predictive maintenance, the Durkee plant is also deploying condition monitoring. “The next evolution is inspecting based on operating condition,” says Farr. “When you inspect based on operating condition, you can inspect using fewer resources, or inspect more using the same resources.” Farr is using the condition manager of Avantis to collect equipment condition data and compare it to a historian database for discrepancies.

Ash Grove managers envision a high-tech wireless future for monitoring equipment. “One idea we’re thinking about is the concept of establishing a dome of radio frequency around the plant so we can do condition monitoring without wires,” says Farr. “If you make the signal wireless, you could revolutionize the entire condition monitoring concept.”

To see the main story this sidebar was taken from - "Technology-based Maintenance Gains Traction" - please visit

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