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The Process Industries Must Tackle Underlying Maintenance Costs

Enhancing the performance of existing production assets even as manufacturers strive to maximize on-time has attained greater relevance during these trying times. While the C-Level focus is an opportunity for maintenance personnel in process industries, challenges remain.

Successful maintenance ‘change’ programs consider all the levers of ‘change’, and implement them in a coordinated and balanced manner. Better performance necessarily involves improving work processes on a continuous basis, allowing access to the right tools, information, empowering people to make decisions, measuring performance in new ways, and rewarding them.

Performers involve operators in equipment maintenance and outsource the maintenance activities judiciously. Continuous Improvement(CI) programs encompass SIX Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), reaping business benefits. They apply CI programs to maintenance function to improve equipment reliability and have formal and repeatable business process for managing the quality through the implementation of CMMS/EAM software system. They also realize that preventive maintenance consumes most resources and are hence moving towards pro-active maintenance strategies, which leverage Condition Monitoring (CM) advantages. Performers with regard to resource consumption and operational performance use metrics since these are necessary to manage and comply within budgeted resources, such as labor, materials, downtimes, MTBF, and OEE.

ARC, while researching its India-industry specific reports, compiled several case studies of the performers across process industry verticals. The research sought understanding of the benefits manufacturers derive in the process of deploying maintenance strategies. One such case was that related to a paper plant’s CM equipment utilization. The challenge was to reduce the down time and limit the superfluous preventive maintenance efforts entailing associated costs and outages without compromising on safety. Strategically deploying increased diagnostic tools on its plant critical rotating equipments, machine behavior became more transparent and aided pro-active maintenance. Vibrations and pulsations were also monitored in addition to paper machine rolls, nips, and bearings. Many of these measurements also threw up related performance monitoring, such as head box pulsation relationship to vibrations or pulsations in fan, pumps, or screens. While maintenance requirements got increasingly well defined and downtimes reduced, crucial costs savings were derived from improved quality of paper produced. The manufacturer revealed from their estimates that ROI was less than eight months.

In the upcoming sixth ARC India Forum at Hyderabad, India from July 23-25 this year, “Winning Strategies and Best Practices for Process Indus-tries and Driving Performance during Economic Downturn”, end users, and solution providers will congregate to discuss such advantages and solutions.

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