In any process plant or discrete manufacturing facility, the ability to improve equipment reliability depends on how well operators are able to identify problem areas with critical assets. This along with performing root cause analysis to understand the underlying issues, rectify recurring losses, and applying proven solutions as broadly as possible across the entire plant will help sustain the improvements over time.
Many industrial facilities are inherently equipment-intensive operations. As a result, maintenance-related costs represent an enormous portion of their overall operating expense. Unplanned downtime of critical components at any of these facilities can have a significant impact on operations, production capacity and profitability, and can increase the risk of safety and environmental issues, as well.
Strategic efforts to improve plant reliability and reduce equipment failures help to support plant and business objectives in a number of ways. Such initiatives can help to maximize plant run times, throughput rates and product yield while minimizing downtime, emergency work handled, spare parts inventories, and maintenance costs. Such improvements, along with the ability to extend the life of critical assets, improve plant and personnel safety, ensure environmental and regulatory compliance will provide demonstrable profitability improvement of the facility and company.
“One common mistake that many industrial facilities make is for plant personnel to jump in and get started carrying out equipment-specific initiatives in a vacuum,” notes Rosales. “You need an overarching blueprint to make your reliability improvement efforts as cost-effective and successful as possible.”
While maintenance activities are conducted at the equipment level, the ability to influence and improve plantwide reliability requires that appropriate effort be expended to improve the businesses processes that ultimately guide all maintenance related procedures and practices. “The goal is to set up the right organizational structure and work-management procedures needed to maximize equipment availability while minimizing the maintenance spend,” says Andy Ginder, Vice President, ABB Consulting.
However, adopting a comprehensive top-down approach to improve reliability can be challenging. “When plant operators install more equipment monitoring systems to improve
reliability, everyone can see and feel those solutions,” says Ginder. “The idea of improving the underlying businesses processes and procedures is much harder to envision — yet it’s not less important.”
What separates world-class facilities from others is their willingness to invest the time and efforts required to be as strategic as possible when it comes to plant maintenance and reliability.
At the end of the day, the ability to achieve Total Plant Reliability ® (TPR) requires reliable practices, reliable people and reliable assets. ABB’s offerings in the reliability arena range from comprehensive consulting services to full turnkey operation of the client’s maintenance department. In both cases, ABB works closely with its industrial customers to improve reliability throughout the entire facility, and sustain this improved performance over time.
“Industrial operators must recognize that optimized maintenance and reliability is the foundation on which most other operating and business objectives are built,” says Andy Ginder, Vice President, ABB Consulting.
Check back next week for more in this series on reliability. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.