FEATURE DATA COLLECTION MANAGEMENT Digital approach to data collection

Data collection is a central plank of any condition based maintenance (CBM) programme. But the information collected is of little value unless it is properly analysed, says Oliver Pogmore of AVT Reliability. Here, he outlines how digital technology can be used to transform data into a powerful proactive maintenance tool


ata can play a central role in the drive to optimise the performance of

assets, extend their lifespan and maximise operational efficiency. However, constraints on staffing levels

and time, not to mention the skills required to collect and analyse data effectively, often means that a considerable number of checks carried out in the name of condition monitoring are put to no real use in terms of predictive maintenance. The number of people who carry out

equipment inspections and monitoring, but have no idea whether the information collected is ever used to inform operational decision making, is likely to be surprisingly high. In fact, the sight of maintenance staff completing data sheets from the comfort of the canteen is not unheard of, such is the lack of value often placed on the process. This is where a digital approach to data

collection and analysis can facilitate a shift from a reactive ‘fix it when it’s broken’ approach, to truly proactive maintenance. It can also empower staff, fostering a culture of operator driven reliability that maximises productivity and cost-efficiency.

DIGITALISATION IS DOABLE An important fact, often overlooked, is that CBM technology has progressed

significantly in recent years, while the cost of it has decreased in real terms. It’s also scalable, making it a very real option for companies of any size. For example, a company might have one hundred assets and just one maintenance engineer, who is very likely to be struggling to keep his head above water monitoring them. Investing in a combination of fixed and mobile sensors, and one tablet, would cost just a few thousand pounds, along with an annual licence fee. That company now owns a digital tool which has perpetual benefits. The lone maintenance engineer can use it to safely collect and store a whole range of valuable data, including anything from vibration readings to oil analysis, on one platform. An advanced web hosted condition

monitoring system such as Machine Sentry by AVT Reliability can enable engineers to collect, store and analyse data with the help of the automated diagnostic assistant (ADA). The asset is monitored periodically by

a tri-axial sensor attached to rotating machinery and the data is collected by connecting the sensor to the Machine Sentry app via a handheld Android phone or tablet using standard Bluetooth wireless technology. Data can be gathered easily, even from large, infrequent running or hard to

access assets, from a safe distance of up to 50m. The system offers real time analysis and support from the ADA 24/7. Powered by thousands of hours of vibration data and years of extensive in-the-field experience of vibration specialists, ADA can predict stage two, three and four bearing failure and detect a wide range of other common fault conditions commonly known to reduce equipment reliability or, at worst, halt production. It will either pinpoint the single most likely problem, or present up to four potential points of failure, ranked in order of greatest likelihood, and outline the next steps to take. This could be anything from cleaning and rebalancing a rotating component, to remedying structural looseness. The continuous availability of data also provides a bedrock of in-depth knowledge on which to base an ongoing maintenance plan. Perhaps its greatest operational value lies in the fact that it removes responsibility for complex data analysis. Any maintenance engineer can use the system, regardless of qualification. This can create a virtuous circle where colleagues at every level are invested in the efficient management of assets. But it also offers concrete cost savings

- always a crucial consideration for companies with a close eye on the bottom line. It’s calculated that, for every £1 spent on automatic fault diagnosis technology, at least £5 is saved in terms of time, expertise and hardware and software costs. Over a three-year period that delivers an estimated increase in uptime of 33 per cent, parts are reduced by 23 per cent and labour costs reduced by 16 per cent*. With such scalable, cost-efficient

digital options available to companies of any size, the time has never been better to swap a ‘wait till it fails’ approach for the long-term reliability offered by a truly proactive, operator driven maintenance strategy.

*1997 Benchmarking Study, John Schultz, involving 25 different sites from five different companies

AVT Reliability 10 AUTUMN 2019 | ENERGY MANAGEMENT 

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