Physical assets and associated equipment are the goods creation engines for diverse manufacturing industries. Clearly, maintaining the equipment is important for the business – if the equipment doesn’t work, there is no production. Planning and executing work to service and repair machines began with corrective maintenance – when it breaks, fix-it – which requires little organization and planning.
The major breakthrough came in the mid-1960s with the introduction of CMMS systems (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) to manage work orders and schedule preventive maintenance. Many updated CMMS systems are still in use today. In the 1980s an upgrade arrived with Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software managing multiple assets, users and locations and extensive features for parts and inventory, staff certification, cost tracking etc.
We will refer to CMMS and EAM collectively as EAMs. They have greatly improved equipment availability and reliability, but the optimization of work execution including determination of when and why maintenance should happen is still problematic. Additionally, EAM software solutions are challenged in that they are rarely set up for timely and proper detection and detailed analysis of failures and their root causes.
The focus is often only on the type of failure without considering root cause including human factors and process-induced degradation of equipment. Compounding this is that failure analysis is not clearly defined and often occurs as a one-off meeting after a major failure and only on critical equipment.
Asset reliability and availability is not a pure EAM maintenance function. It requires work processes and a flow of good quality data and the addition of specific reliability initiatives. That data flow and work process concept ensures that for each asset, staff can truly measure the trouble-free time and quantify that the asset is performing its full intended duty. One way to look at the key differences between an EAM solution and a reliability solution is that an EAM solution can be installed. A reliability solution is much more than a software or platform installation. It needs a strategy and defined process, more than a library of failures, and deep inter-operation with the EAM.
Other tools and applications have stepped in to assist the EAM software, including:
The objective of these applications is to provide early warnings so that maintenance can intervene earlier and take appropriate actions. These systems can help prevent damage, avoid unplanned shutdowns and loss of production, provide context to better understand failure and failure mechanisms and pre-determine and plan the appropriate maintenance activity.
Aspen Mtell is a complementary addition to EAM software. It does not take over the asset management duties, but complements them with warnings when maintenance should occur. Its pioneering AI/machine learning technology strengthens CbM with far greater accuracy and much earlier detection using pattern recognition in amalgamated, multi-dimensional and temporal sensor data streams. After a predictive alert, Aspen Mtell can automatically dispatch inspection or work orders to the maintenance planner or directly into the EAM system. Aspen Mtell prescriptive maintenance provides a best practice for forecasting impending equipment failures and advising of the corrective action to avoid or mitigate degradation or impending failure.
The prescriptive maintenance feature provides deep connections into the EAM system, allowing extraction of key information such as cause code, failure code and advice for specific actions to remediate the issue. Additionally, the anomaly or degradation/failure alert message may contain guidance on process adjustments to prevent degradation. The Aspen Mtell agents that detect issues are built from predefined templates that declare the precise sensors needed to detect specific failures or anomalies. A heat map chart of the percentage contribution can assist in troubleshooting. Aspen Mtell features a universal FMEA capability that will support any 3rd party FMEA table or database. AspenTech is defining a road map to provide superior automatic detection and analysis of not only failure mechanisms, but also root causes using state-of-the-art AI-assisted analysis.
Further, Aspen Fidelis™ can assist EAM with high confidence asset risk management to help maintenance scheduling and Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) planning. Aspen Fidelis can determine risk, priority and probability of maintenance action for assets more comprehensively and easier than RCM. It can also determine the appropriate inventory level of spares.
The combination of Aspen Mtell and Aspen Fidelis improves the EAM by precisely calculating the best low-risk, lowest cost way to time and approach the required maintenance and recover from the failure. Should the process build up intermediate inventory before the degrading machine is taken out of service, or is it more cost effective to conduct maintenance activities earlier? Knowing the consequence of different maintenance and operating choices promotes action to increase net product output/profitability resulting in improved return on assets (RoA).
The capabilities in Aspen Mtell and Aspen Fidelis fundamentally improve maintenance tactics by helping the EAM software do a better job and assure the consistent refinement of maintenance strategy and tactics.crease plant efficiency.