A participant asked, “Have you performed research related to automated condition-based monitoring? For example, vibration analysis and shock pulse method for bearing verification. This will be related primarily to pumping or any mechanical equipment. This will help perform predictive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. If so, do you have the comparison of the brands and models?”
The short answer is no, we haven’t done that specific research but the longer answer is that I’ve certainly talked to several utilities who have done what I would term, special studies to investigate practices. And I will give you one example.
It’s not exactly what you’re talking about but it’s on the same line. So this particular utility, was looking at, was actually several utilities that kind of did this. Looking at the lubrication schedules and one utility’s case they were lubricating twice a year. Others were lubricating once a year, a couple is lubricating every quarter. You know, changing lubrication.
Well, there are ways you can get your lubricant analyzed and there are companies that will do that. And you can send off your lubricant and get it analyzed for how is it performing, is it lasting, etc. and they were able to do these studies to show that the rate of lubrication in every case was more frequent than it needed to be.
So through the study of that particular information, for their own exact utility, they could change the lubrication schedule which can be a significant amount of money because it takes a time to perform the maintenance and also costs money to get a new lubricant, dispose to the old lubricant, etc.
So they were able to figure out by doing that special study that the right amount of lubrication was different than what they were doing and they can change those schedules. So anytime you have a chance to use some technology that will give you better information of how to react, what time frame, that sort of thing. I think you can look for potentials to save money.
Now I don’t know if New Zealand is doing more work in this area. Ross?
I think we’ve gone on the same track on occasion. It depends on what you want to know to do that sort of analysis. And I think it sits within a wider risk management question.
And certainly, with a mechanical and electrical plant, you can get right into the whole reliable centred maintenance analysis. So it’s just with your monitoring and your automatic monitoring add value within your wider risk management and maintenance processes.
The good news is it’s all getting, yes with micro-sensors and things like that. It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to do continuous monitoring. I think we’re going to see more of it.
So I would suggest that if you have the chance to try out some of the technologies for say, vibration analysis or some temperature analysis, there’re all kinds of things. I do not have any recommendations on one company over another but if you have a chance to try it, perform your own special study to see if I get this information, what does that tell me about my pump?
How can I change my maintenance regime knowing this? And then look at what you did before and look at what you do now and see if it actually saved you the amount of money it cost you to do the analysis.
It is a part of that wider condition analysis question and it still comes back to what questions are you trying to answer.
And so it’s like any asset management of any asset, you’ve got your inventory and then you start collecting condition and performance information but you need to know the question you are trying to answer before you go collecting screeds and screeds of data because otherwise, you just get buried in data and you won’t have the ability to …if it fits into, “I’ve got a real problem and I need to answer this question,” by all means.
Otherwise, think out, think about other ways to deal with the issue.