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Avoiding process downtimes

05 June 2023

Instrumentation can provide a valuable starting point for gauging performance, safety and compliance, as well as identifying areas for potential improvements. David Lincoln discusses how predictive maintenance can help improve process efficiency.

Developments in smart instrumentation and asset management systems are offering a raft of new opportunities for food and beverage processors. Providing real-time access to an expanded array of information, these developments can help to dramatically improve process performance. 

There are three maintenance strategies that instrumentation users could adopt – run to fail, preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance offers the advantage of knowing about any possible problems ahead of time allowing to plan and prepare parts and maintenance to ensure instruments are kept at peak performance. 

For continuous production processes, equipment uptime represents an important factor in improving process plant efficiency and productivity and overall profitability. Smart instruments can play a key role in optimising the maintenance function toward this end.

By processing data from installed instruments around a production facility, health management software can offer a complete picture of operating conditions. The ability to overlay data from normal operating conditions with any unusual patterns, allows trained personnel to analyse the data. Alarm reports enable decision makers to evaluate a situation and take appropriate action.

Predictive maintenance
Where at one time a maintenance engineer’s expertise could define a problem and when it will occur, based on experience, today advanced data analysis provides feedback on instrument health. 

Predictive maintenance is part of the growing move towards autonomous systems – such as self-driving cars and lights off factories – the device is monitored and any problem will be detected within or around the device automatically. The root cause of the problem, the timeframe within which a problem would occur is calculated and the way to perform the fix provided. 

Developments in technology are offering advance warning about issues and problems before they occur, together with the information needed to fix them. Predictive maintenance provides better, more timely information. A winning formula for achieving improved efficiency with greatly reduced downtime, reducing resource use, improving site safety and limiting environmental impact. 

The circumstances and challenges presented by the global pandemic have highlighted the need for remote access to data and condition monitoring of process equipment. Remote condition monitoring continues to allow process owners to check in and keep track of the health of measurement instruments from anywhere in the world. Instruments can also deliver health check reports to customers and maybe even offer service recommendations based on the data

When it comes to fixing a problem, predictive maintenance software can either enable dispatch the spare part automatically, and inform the customer how to perform the fix. Alternatively, a service engineer, can be dispatched with the part to fit a replacement. 

David Lincoln is Digital Lead for ABB Measurement & Analytics.

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