Maximising reliability, efficiency and profitability, safely

Schneider Electric launches new digital ecosystem
Maximising reliability, efficiency and profitability, safely
Maximising reliability, efficiency and profitability, safely

Like all companies, industrial organisations are in the business of making money, and therefore their operations should be viewed as their “profit engines”. Historically, industrial business and operations functions were performed separately – operations worked to make the actual products, and it fell to the business teams to account for the products made and sold.

However, the speed of business today is unprecedented, rendering this separation both impractical and ineffective. The new age of industry is demanding new philosophies.

Take, for example, industrial maintenance, which has advanced considerably over the last twenty years. Back then, maintenance strategies were reactive. A piece of equipment would fail, and it would be fixed as quickly as possible.

This improved as engineers developed more sophisticated preventive strategies, analysing equipment or assets to pinpoint the expected time-to-failure, and scheduling maintenance in time to prevent failures before they happened.

Then complex, predictive maintenance strategies were developed, which directly measured equipment conditions to predict the likelihood of failure, and then scheduled maintenance accordingly. Nowadays, the majority of industrial operations use all these strategies, although traditional maintenance management is now known as asset performance management, to indicate increased complexity.

However, despite the name, the focus on asset performance management is both too narrow and too broad in the discussion of how to improve the performance of industrial assets. The latter, because this involves more than maintenance strategies alone, and the former because optimal performance should include both transactional management and real-time control aspects.

Industrial companies have one main goal, and that is to safely maximise profit from production and to do this, they need both asset performance management and asset control. This two-tiered approach, when combined with real-time information gathering, and reported in appropriate units, drive a balance between maximising reliability and efficiency, with safety limitations.

Many plants have different teams maintaining and operating the assets, with disparate and sometimes conflicting performance measurements, with the maintenance team being measured on the reliability of assets, and the operations team on production throughput and efficiency.

Therein lies the rub. Reliability and efficiency are contrary functions. Boosting reliability means sacrificing production throughput and increasing production throughput means compromising reliability.

It is no surprise then, that these teams have trouble co-operating, as each is measured in a way that penalises the other. This is the conundrum that must be solved if manufacturers want to maximise asset performance across their operations, and the key to this is developing performance metrics for operations and maintenance that encourage co-operation and benefit each other.

Getting the best performance out of industrial operations can be accomplished by maximising the performance of the assets and asset sets.

And by employing a two-tier asset performance management and control model, manufacturers can gain a more thorough perspective and can harness technology to increase profits. Real-time information in suitable business terms, mixed with asset performance management and control, results in maximised reliability, efficiency, and profitability, and do this all safely.

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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