APM or Asset Performance Management is a top priority for every plant operations & maintenance team. It is but obvious- since, for an asset-critical industry like process manufacturing, any kind of equipment failure or downtime can have far-reaching consequences. 

A study by ARC puts down the cost of poor asset performance management (APM) to be a full 1.5% of sales revenue yearly. In a competitive & consumer-driven market, this can be fatal. This is where a sound APM strategy can help by reducing unplanned downtime, increase asset availability, minimize maintenance costs, and reduce the risk of failure for critical assets and so-called “non-critical” assets.

So, what are the general approaches to asset maintenance & how can you make sure your APM (Asset Performance Management) strategy is competitive today?

Reactive Maintenance: Reactive Maintenance is the practice of letting your assets function until they break down. The maintenance personnel is only invited then to repair the assets and restore production. In the long term, this means downtime is unpredictable.

           Pros: Less time & effort for maintenance teams, no initial costs

          Cons: Expensive, No control over production/downtime, Risk to EHS, Low Asset life

Planned/Preventive Maintenance: Preventive Maintenance is the practice of checking your assets at predefined intervals for any signs of wear & tear. It is designed to keep asset parts in good condition but does not consider the current state of a component/process.

             Pros: Increased asset expectancy, timely routine repairs, increased EHS

             Cons: Planned Downtime when not needed, Fear of over maintenance, Labour intensive, Resource wastage

Predictive Maintenance: Predictive Maintenance is the practice of monitoring your assets on a continual basis to predict downtime before it occurs so that repairs can be planned & executed in advance. It is the most preferred method for enterprises since it prevents unplanned & planned downtime, without actually experiencing costs & effort associated with preventive maintenance.

               Pros: Early detection of any potential issues, Less downtime, Prolonged asset life, minimal costs

               Cons: Workforce skillset & training, Processes to manage Flexibility & Agility in maintenance.

 

So is predictive maintenance the absolute answer to the APM conundrum?

NO. Predictive Maintenance may suffice as an initial approach, but it also comes with its own set of issues: 

When you are monitoring a unit with thousands of tags, there might be 100’s of alerts generated per day, several of which may be false positives or may be attributed to the wrong equipment. On top of this, these alerts do not take into account the interdependency of various parts of systems or a constantly fluctuating environment which might result in pinpointing the error onto the wrong component. All of these then add up to the wasted effort & time for the maintenance team.

The biggest danger is that like ‘the boy who cried wolf’ fable when the real issue occurs – it might be actually missed. The onus of analyzing & diagnosing these in time falls squarely on the shoulders of the plant engineers only since the system cannot learn from past failures & can still repeat these errors. So in the absence of proper training & knowledge transfer, your operations & maintenance team is still at square one.

So what is the solution to this?

An AI-driven APM strategy can help tick all these boxes. For instance, at Uptime AI, our patent-pending plant operation application leverages an AI engine that continuously learns from historic and ongoing data and identifies how each of the parameters evolves with respect to each other. From this data, it predicts an expected value which it then compares with the actual data and determines any discrepancies. This anomaly score can indicate the overall health of the asset.

On top of this, UptimeAI solution can not just identify and diagnose issues such as equipment faults and process inefficiencies, it can also make recommendations on how to resolve them and prevent them from re-occurring in the future. It can also predict how well each piece of equipment in the system will work and flag up reliability, efficiency, safety, and product quality problems before they happen – which is exactly what an APM strategy aims towards, saving enterprises millions of dollars & tons of sleepless nights for the maintenance team.