Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Transforming into the digital age is a common objective amongst companies today. The promise of rich volumes of operational data that can be used to track asset health and prevent unplanned downtime is a strong motivator. The financial models showing the potential return on investment sometimes in a year or less makes it a relatively easy sell to those controlling the financial purse strings. Utilized correctly, these digital tools can be a large part of your reliability plan. Unfortunately, many of these projects are doomed from the start because no one took the time to put together a complete plan for improving asset reliability including an assessment of current strategy. Here are some key points that are often overlooked:
Strategic goals –
What are you trying to achieve? Sensors will give you data and notifications but what will you do with this information? The collection and processing of data should be one part of an overall reliability plan but not the whole strategy. By not setting goals and clearly defining what success looks like, particularly if you are attempting a pilot program or plan to scale up, you may not get much value from your system. If your current strategy is 100% run to fail, buying a box of sensors will not help much.
Criticality analysis –
After setting goals, it’s important to identify which assets are most critical to your operation and the most impactful if they fail unexpectedly. Do you have spare components ready to install if the asset goes down? How much will it cost per hour of down time? This analysis will help you decide where to start to get the most bang for your buck. Overspending by placing sensors on generally stable and non-critical assets can doom your project's ROI or prevent it from ever getting off the ground to begin with.
Get buy-in from all involved –
Early planning meetings should involve the key departments that will be involved in the project including maintenance, engineering, reliability, financial, production and IT at a minimum. By sharing your vision and goals for the project and working through everyone’s concerns, you will get more buy in.