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Blog | Mobile Data Collection for Condition Based Maintenance

 

According to a 2014 global survey conducted by PWC, senior executive respondents believe that asset performance management has the highest scope for improvement within the Power and Utilities Sector. Improving asset management can not only reduce costs and improve profitability but is also an important component of safety, productivity, and risk management.

Improving asset management within the utilities is a significant undertaking, but also a necessary one. There are minor changes that can be implemented that will have a significant positive effect on the processes of managing assets, without drastically altering current processes. Using mobile data collection to optimize condition-based maintenance is a slight change that can produce significant results.

 

Condition Based Maintenance

Effective asset management across the generation, transmission, and distribution departments of electric power companies affect outcomes of success in the organization such as reliability, profitability, productivity, responsiveness, safety, and overall efficiency and performance of assets. A holistic and proactive asset management strategy involves the effective use of asset maintenance, based on unique requirements.

Condition Based Maintenance relies on individual asset health and performance information that is observed and recorded through human interaction with the specific asset. This represents a departure from the age and usage-based approach that groups all assets of a particular age or level of usage into the same category of maintenance. This type of predetermined preventive maintenance is easiest to conduct but does not account for specific asset needs.

 

What is the Problem with Age-Based Asset Maintenance?

Similar to human health, asset health is not necessarily the same for all assets of the same age. Two people born in the same year may be in very different states of health. While one may be completely healthy, the other may have a significant number of medical issues that need to be addressed. Not identifying the one person’s medical needs and not giving them the treatment that they need would result in the individual’s health deteriorating more severely. At the same time, providing unnecessary treatment to a healthy individual is a waste of time and resources.

The same scenario is often present in asset management in the utility industry with age and usage-based maintenance. Without being able to prioritize asset maintenance based on specific asset needs, resources are wasted maintaining assets that don’t need it, and assets that require the most urgent work are not prioritized first.

 

Why is Uniform Maintenance Scheduling More Popular?

The information that is needed to effectively utilize a condition-based maintenance program is difficult to acquire, compile, share, and make sense of, with paper data collection from the field. If the paper is the primary means of recording human-recorded asset data, then age-based maintenance becomes an easier, adequate alternative. The use of paper forms does not provide good visibility for effective decision making, and homogenously scheduling maintenance ultimately reduces Return on Assets and wastes resources.

 

Mobile Data Collection as a Means to Prioritize Asset Maintenance

Alternatively, mobile data collection allows for human-asset interaction, such as inspections, to be recorded directly onto a mobile device, right from the field. This eliminates the need for data to be inputted into a computer, reduces the amount of time that information is delivered to the relevant decision-maker and driving informed decisions about what needs to be done to each asset.

Mobile data collection accumulates each asset’s complete history of work performed to it, allowing for particular asset information to be separately assessed from all other asset histories. This historical information provides greater visibility into individual asset health and is the basis for individualized decisions and effective decisions, such as understanding which assets need maintenance, repairs, or even replacement.

 

What Does This All Mean?

Condition-based asset maintenance is only a component of properly managing assets in the utility sector but is one area where slight changes can have a great impact on cost reduction, profitability, and Return on Assets. Effective condition-based maintenance is not difficult to achieve when the right information is easily gathered, compiled, and shared.

In order to effectively manage assets, organizations need to allocate resources efficiently and accurately, based on specific asset requirements. Prioritizing assets that require the most immediate attention is vital and having the right historical and current information is crucial to determine the appropriate course of action for each asset. Mobile data collection is a solution that addresses many of these current challenges without disrupting current processes and is a viable option for many organizations within the Power and Utilities Sector that can reduce costs and increase return on assets.

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