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Operator-Driven Reliability Best Practices Series: Mobilized Technology Distinguishes the Leaders

imageTechnology for ODR typically has two components: a handheld mobile device that assists the operator in making inspections and corrective actions, and a host application that stores the inspection results, manages exceptions and the ODR collection process. The technology can also assist with identifying the potential source of problems and determining how fast a company needs to react to avoid undesirable consequences.

Electronic inspection data enables people to make faster and better decisions and creates consistent verifiable information. Electronic inspection data also makes information accessible to other systems, like computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and data historians. Electronically logged inspections eliminate errors that can occur with paper logs due to illegibility, damage from precipitation or inherently damp manufacturing conditions, or loss of data caused by misplaced logs.

There are challenges when dealing with operators who have a wide range of experience and skills. Technology helps maintain consistency by retaining inspection process knowledge. For example, ask five different operators the color of a lubricant and you might get five different answers. By using the technology to drive the operator to make a choice, e.g., black, grey or green, you eliminate most potential differences in opinions.

Probably the strongest case supporting the use of technology is its ability to provide operator feedback. It's like putting a reliability engineer in the operator's pocket. The technology alerts the user when an entry is out of range or an abnormal condition exists. When abnormal conditions exist, the device can immediately prompt the operator to corrective action, like changing a dirty filter, adding lubrication, cleaning the end bell, removing debris, or requesting a work order be created. If more information to perform the inspection is needed, documents, text, graphics, photos and videos can be accessed by the operator from the mobile device.

Technology is about enabling processes and driving actions. In addition to automating the ODR process, it automates the fault diagnosis process. By prompting the user to collect additional measurements or inspections, technology narrows down the root cause possibilities. A great example of this is an abnormally high electric motor temperature measurement. The handheld device can prompt to inspect for end bell obstructed ventilation or check the lube line feeding the motor bearings. This information can be included in a work request created by the user so the maintenance team brings the right tools to fix the problem.

Technology can make calculations. A simple example is calculating delta pressure, the pressure differential between inlet and outlet of a pump, valve, or filter. Information like this can be used to indicate a filter change, a valve obstruction, or a pump running off its curve. Equations can be used to calculate compressors or pumps efficiencies, or costs associated with air leaks.

Using technology should be transparent and trouble free. It should be flexible to automate your process. Don't change your process to accommodate technology limitations.

authorDave Staples, Business Development Manager, SKF Reliability Systems, has over 20 years of industrial experience specializing in asset reliability technologies and asset management services. For the past six years, Dave has been focused on helping customers implement and sustain Operator Driven Reliability programs.

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