Dynamic maintenance

With the increasing popularity of systems interfacing it is understandable if people think asset maintenance is becoming increasingly complex. Lawson Software solution consultant Stephen Tapping insists that simpler is always better.Tapping, an expert in the field of enterprise asset management, said asset management systems had a lot to offer, not least of all in terms of increased profitability.“In the end it’s all about profits,” he said.“Maximum productivity from assets requires the highest level of availability and reliability, and when you marry that to an optimised production plan then that’s going to give you maximum productivity.“If you get the highest availability level possible from your assets and manage that with the best production plan that you can, then you’re going to see the best return possible for your operation.”There are two basic types of enterprise management system available on the market, computerised maintenance management systems and enterprise asset management systems.The main difference between the two is in the features they offer. CMMS tends to be more about scheduling maintenance. An EAM offers condition-based monitoring and inspections, and integrates directly with the enterprise resource planning system to manage the information.In an EAM system, Tapping said, the type of data collected depended largely on the individual assets, as the factors affecting one asset in one environment might be different to those affecting the same asset in a different area. At the same time, he said, there were some basic questions that needed to be asked, regardless of the asset.“There are lots of systems around, but they all basically rely on the same system, where you look at a piece of equipment and say, what happens if that equipment fails, what sort of indications will it give me that it is failing, and if it fails how does it affect my production?” Tapping said.“Using those questions, and using some packages that are out there, whether they’re paper-based or computer-based systems, you can create a system that looks at RCM, reliability centred maintenance.“Maintenance has changed over time, we now know that the age of an asset doesn’t really have anything to do with how often it breaks down or whether it breaks down.“It’s about the condition of the assets, it’s where we use the asset and what we’re using it for that can determine if and when it’s going to break down.”Tapping said monitoring the condition of an asset was a better way of doing preventative maintenance than stripping and rebuilding a piece of equipment every 1000 hours. The latter approach, he said, could sometimes increase the risk of the equipment failing.While asset maintenance systems have come a long way over recent years, Tapping said maintenance systems still needed more development to catch up with the rest of the industry.“The capital cost of mining equipment is huge, and that equipment carries on board intelligent software that records from the simplest end how many hours it has been running; it will record its own temperatures and pressures, fluid levels, and it will transmit that information to wherever you want it to go,” he said.“The equipment we use has got smarter, the people who use the equipment have got smarter, and now the software that we use to manage and maintain that equipment has to get smarter.”In a paper entitled Next Generation Dynamic RCM, Tapping outlines Lawson’s latest product, a system that integrates the information collection and management systems to enable faster, more accurate notification of asset maintenance requirements.He said this overcame a problem with traditional RCM systems, which used separate systems to create and manage information collected from assets.“We have what we call dynamic RCM, where if a work order is raised in the system on a piece of equipment that is being managed by RCM, the system notifies people in maintenance and says ‘this piece of equipment should not have failed’,” Tapping said.By offering faster notification of equipment failure, dynamic RCM enables maintenance workers to take action faster to find out why an asset has failed and prevent further failures in similar pieces of equipment.“The system is actually monitoring that for you, and tells you when things start to go wrong, and that’s why it’s dynamic RCM as opposed to traditional RCM,” Tapping said.He said Lawson’s long-term focus on integration between its various systems enabled it to create a maintenance system that is both simple and efficient.“We produce an ERP software, so enterprise resource planning,” Tapping said. “Part of that ERP package is enterprise asset management, and part of enterprise asset management is RCM, and part of RCM is dynamic RCM.“It’s all one package, and so the information inside the system is always being looked at by other parts of the system, so it just makes information available quickly and simply to other parts of the system.”This story originally appeared in the November 2008 edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly Magazine.

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