PdM Poll Shows Solid State, Buy-in Barriers, Fuzzy Future

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

American industrial plants have made significant progress in the areas of predictive maintenance and condition monitoring, however there is still plenty of room for improvement. That is the main message that can be gleaned from the results of a recent survey by Azima DLI, a provider of predictive machine and condition monitoring and analysis services.

The study, conducted in January and February and released in April, queried engineers and plant managers in the U.S. about the methods their facilities employ to ensure the reliability and performance of critical production assets. The 162 respondents represented predominantly large plants in a variety of industry segments.

The survey found that 64.8 percent of plants currently have a machine condition monitoring / predictive maintenance program in place. That figure didn’t really surprise me and coincided with personal findings from the large amount of interviews and site visits that I’ve conducted over the past decade. Two-thirds of facilities pursuing CM/PdM is a much better state than when I started covering the manufacturing and process industries in 1998. What did surprise me, though, was that out of plants that currently do not have a CM/PdM program, 84.2 percent said that they had no plans to initiate one in 2010. That is living in the dark ages, my friends.

Outstanding technology tools and services are readily available and are affordable to the vast majority of industrial companies, big or small. Those facts are not news to Azima survey respondents who currently have a CM/PdM program. The poll shows that these advanced plants utilize four main tech tools in an effort to stay one step ahead of downtime. A total of 84.8 percent said that vibration analysis/monitoring is a primary component of their program. A total of 75.24 percent said they actively utilize lubrication oil analysis. That is followed by infrared thermography at 71.43 percent, and motor and battery testing at 40.95 percent. Ultrasonic/ultrasound rounded out the top five, but at less than 9 percent.

Buy-in and Barriers

Respondents from advanced plants felt pretty good about the work that they have done in this area – 75.7 percent stated that they were currently satisfied with the results of their CM/PdM program and 97.3 percent believed that the success of their program directly impacts their company’s bottom line. That last point definitely deserves a pat on the back ... however, respondents intimate that, more often than not, they have to supply their own pat. Senior management is missing the boat on the value derived from lube oil analysis and other proactive methods. Only one in three (35.1 percent) respondents believed that senior- and C-level executives at their company would rank the CM/PdM program as important to revenues and the overall productivity of the organization. A total of 62.1 percent said their bosses find the program to be “somewhat important”.

That sentiment on buy-in was echoed in a separate question on the major barriers to CM/PdM program success. For those engineers and plant managers who aren’t currently satisfied with their program, 25 percent placed the blame on the fact that the program was not viewed as strategic by C-level executives. Thirty-two percent stated that a lack of funding or budgetary support was standing in the way.

With this mixture of good and not-so-good news, perhaps it is not surprising that 55.7 percent of respondents don’t exactly know what solutions and tools are needed to maintain an effective CM/PdM program.

Gain a Clearer Picture

Are you among the many who are seeking help or direction in this area?

Are you wondering what’s new and what’s on the horizon for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance?

Are you in need of advice in order to expand, update or overhaul your CM/PdM toolkit (or your CM/PdM program)?

Are you looking for ways to get more returns from your program?

Are you looking for the means to obtain buy-in and get upper management to see the true importance of your efforts?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, look no further than Noria Corporation’s RELIABLE PLANT 2010 conference and exhibition. This outstanding event, held August 31-September 2 at the Nashville Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., offers you the opportunity to expand your CM/PdM knowledge through educational sessions (particularly in the Lubrication Excellence and Reliability World tracks) and through open dialogue with suppliers of vibration analysis, lubrication and oil analysis, infrared thermography, and ultrasound products and services (most notably on the 50,000-plus-square-foot expo floor).

Information on exhibitors, educational sessions and registration is accessible on the RELIABLE PLANT 2010 Web site, http://conference.reliableplant.com. Stay on the cutting edge by attending this year’s conference and exhibition.

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