Industrial organizations are at the forefront of a rapidly accelerating energy transition, as a net-zero world becomes reality. For all industrial businesses, pressure is rising to reduce emissions, whether through the replacement of less efficient, more emission-intensive assets, or via the more effective operation of existing assets. The latter, in the short to medium term, is typically more attractive, but entails changes to asset operations and maintenance, whether that be more optimized production activities or moving from a reactive maintenance strategy to a proactive one. Operations decision-makers have received budget to implement such changes: six in 10 of the 304 respondents to the Verdantix 2023 global corporate operational excellence survey noted increases to budgets for plant decarbonization initiatives.
Digital solutions are central to maximizing the efficacy of ongoing and planned changes. In the case of moving to a proactive maintenance strategy, digital tools, such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance (PdM) software, are table stakes. PdM software has existed in various forms since the 1990s, picking up traction since the proliferation of easily accessible Internet of Things (IoT) asset sensors and broadband cellular networks in the 2010s. This software helps reduce downtime and contributes to an overall improvement in asset reliability, integrity and availability by catching failures early. In recent years, PdM solution suppliers have turned their attention towards sustainability KPIs.
Unhealthy assets draw greater power than their healthy counterparts, as energy transforms from normal operating activity into excess heat and vibration. Malfunctioning assets can leak material, increasing emissions and toxic contamination. Additionally, improperly maintained assets exhaust spare parts at a faster rate and have shorter lifespans, leading to premature replacement. PdM strategies remedy these issues, enhancing energy efficiency and asset lifespan to reduce overall emissions and waste.
One firm offering PdM software to boost sustainability KPIs is AspenTech, which provides predictive maintenance analytics within its asset performance management (APM) solution, Aspen Mtell®. Through Aspen Mtell, industrial organizations receive actionable insights on asset deterioration earlier than via conventional IoT or manual asset condition monitoring. For example, Bangkok Industrial Gas (BIG) leveraged Aspen Mtell in tandem with AWS, reducing its maintenance lead time from one month to one week, and boosting its equipment runtime from 99.5% to 99.8%, as well as improving its energy efficiency. AspenTech has also developed more than 140 pre-built sustainability sample models for decarbonization applications, including for emissions management, carbon capture and materials circularity.
Industrial organizations increasingly recognize the role of PdM – and digital solutions more broadly – in achieving sustainable operations. Thirty-two per cent of the 304 respondents in the Verdantix Operational Excellence global survey noted that PdM software was critical to achieving net zero goals, and a further 46% reported that it was helpful. Verdantix expects these figures to rise as solution providers continue to educate end-users on the role PdM and other asset management solutions can play within decarbonization.