The ITR Company, one of the largest independent predictive maintenance (PdM) service providers in the world, has watched the PdM and reliability industry over the past 27 years grow from a concept to a well-established practice for most businesses relying on electro-mechanical systems. ITR says customers should use smart PdM practices as they search for any competitive advantage, particularly as markets see possible rebounds in 2010.

We all know the negative effects of economic downturns, but one healthy outcome is a renewed effort to test conventional wisdom and assess value, said Jonathan T. Davis, CEO, The ITR Company. ITR sees a new normal, which is that leaner companies are forced to make better use of limited resources. Our customers across all industries, at varying levels within supply chains, are seeking significant cost savings from maintenance activities and are using ITR technologies and services as part of the answer.

Davis says companies are well served by asking themselves three key questions when considering their maintenance plans for the year ahead:

* Why does our company do this?
* How much money does this actually cost or save the company?
* Is there a better way?

For the foreseeable future, companies must take on the difficult task of finding the right answers.

Focus for 2010

By working closely with its customers, ITR identified seven key steps for PdM program improvement, which can be used by maintenance managers across industries in 2010:

1. Focus on quantifiable results - have measurable objectives for maintenance and reliability processes using key performance indicators (KPIs). Make sure KPIs show bottom line results so maintenance managers can talk to top management. Most importantly, and where many companies fall short, analyze the data, use the information and take action to improve.

2. Focus on assets instead of PdM technology - using a risk-based approach, start with asset failure modes, not PdM technology. Execute a sound reliability strategy taking into account technology, frequency, competency, and variable vs. fixed cost. They all must be considered together in the context of a system.

3. Redefine the customer-supplier relationship - buy a result, not a promise. A supplier should be a true partner by offering a complete, customized solution based on your business. Avoid partners that sell hardware and software, and then let you go it alone.

4. Better understand monitoring vs. analysis - monitoring is just part of the process. The reliability team must communicate the differences and importance of each to top management. There should be better integration of remote monitoring and human analytics.

5. Design the PdM process for continuity - why design production processes for reliability, but not the reliability process? Address problems before they occur, such as turnover, limited budgets and technology advances. Build a robust process independent of key individuals.

6. Apply a process and system-focused approach to reliability and PdM - ensure PdM processes are aligned with a reliability-centered maintenance framework. Partner with hardware, software and service providers who can integrate solutions within an existing system.

7. Reliability is a green initiative, like it or not - with possible upcoming changes to laws and regulations, reliable operations will be paramount and costs of unplanned variation in production will be greater. Give credit where credit is due: reliability is about doing more with less and should be considered a green collar profession.

There is no question that routine and accepted practices should be challenged. Limited staffs and budgets force creativity. Breakthroughs in PdM will be achieved by means previously never considered, and we will all be better for it, added Davis.

About The ITR Company

For 27 years, The ITR Company has been a leader in the global reliability and predictive maintenance (PdM) industry, safeguarding customers’ assets using predictive technologies to reduce variations in production, increase uptime and save industries that fuel the world economy millions of dollars annually. ITR delivers predictive technologies and services through proprietary hardware and software, including remote online dedicated vibration condition monitoring systems (DCMS) and web-based computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) for PdM.

Headquartered in Bethlehem, Penn., ITR currently serves hundreds of customers in 40 U.S. states, 16 countries and on five continents. ITR’s experience crosses most manufacturing and service industries, including steel, cement, mining, construction, power systems, water, food, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and gaming. For more information, please visit www.itrco.com or call (610) 867-0101.

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