For heavy industry – the oil & gas sector being a prime example – predictive maintenance has historically been a pie-in-the-sky fantasy held back by the realities of reactive maintenance. Many operators continue to assume that if a piece of equipment isn’t operating at its highest potential, they can only realistically deal with it when the problem makes itself known – otherwise known as breaking down.
Even with the advent of the AI revolution, predictive maintenance still seemed out of reach. The computing power and costs to achieve it was astronomical and even exponential once a facility went beyond 90 percent uptime. But times have changed, and new technological breakthroughs have opened the door for true predictive maintenance that is both simple and affordable.
Today’s savviest operators are already embracing remote asset management, the most reliable method of achieving predictive maintenance. There’s no better time for operators who may still be on the fence to give the technology a chance, especially if their plant is experiencing an upgrade or migration.
Getting Proactive About Asset Health
With a slate of affordable sensors feeding data from different equipment to an AI-assisted IoT platform, remote asset management solutions can keep track of all the working parts of a plant – control systems, heat exchangers, artificial lifts and more.
One of the most relevant benefits of this approach for operators is the asset integrity management system. Like a doctor would for a patient, this system assesses a facility’s assets and determines if they’re functioning well. This is done by looking at a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) and comparing them to analytical models and other data to generate a real-time health record of the facility.
Using this information, operators can receive alerts when a piece of equipment is showing signs of trouble rather than when it actually fails. This capability enables the paradigm shift from reactive to proactive maintenance, avoiding costly unplanned downtime and critical equipment failures by addressing problems before they become serious.
There is a critical source of information that can make this approach even more reliable, however, and the perfect time to secure that information is right after a facility has been upgraded or migrated.
A Clean Slate
After an upgrade or migration, operators have an excellent opportunity to perform a basic health analysis to ensure the system will perform all the tasks they require and is working at absolute peak performance. Using this data, an asset integrity management system can create a baseline, measuring all future impacts to the system against a clearly defined gold standard.
This unlocks the greatest potential of predictive maintenance -- allowing the system to measure any future impacts to the equipment’s performance against the ideal baseline and immediately analyze why it happened and what can be done to fix it. With equipment facing serious trouble, the remote asset management team can issue an actionable report warning the operator of potential trouble, allowing them to repair or adjust the equipment as needed. This also ensures that no matter how much the plant grows or evolves in the long term, a watchful eye is kept on tolerance levels, leaving no question that the equipment on site remains up to growing demand.
The Demand for Data
While this kind of remote asset management was a pipedream decades ago, it’s quickly growing to be an expectation for today’s industry leaders. This is in part due to how data-driven management ties into the expectations from the business world.
Consider the stock market – 50 years ago, it wasn’t a problem to just know the opening and closing prices. Today, investors need instant data to participate in the market in any real capacity.
We’re seeing the same thing in the process industry. It used to be enough to measure the monthly production throughput, but inquiring minds are starting to wonder about daily production, or even production over the last hour. When you reach that level of granularity, acquiring the information puts a strain on the overall system. Many facilities simply weren’t designed to pull that kind of data.
Remote asset management removes that strain and provides actionable answers to the question of whether things are working well now and into the future. These answers affect decisions at every level of business, so a modern plant is truly in the dark by limiting access to that data.
Once again, there’s no better time to establish a baseline and begin gathering that data than when a plant is fresh off of an upgrade or migration. Consider taking advantage of your facility’s next fresh start to begin a new chapter in long-term care for its assets.