Resilience to downturns that the energy, oil and gas is prone to has been a priority who had been affected by the plunge in oil prices a few years ago. With prices trending up, oil and gas operations, as well as other cyclical industries, such as construction-related field service, are enjoying the stronger economy and presented with an opportunity to seize this upswing in profits and invest in technologies that help control costs. One of the most significant benefits of innovative technologies is predictive maintenance.

Sticking to the break/fix model is an operational weakness for energy, oil and gas related operations. Poor to non-existent maintenance strategies can reduce a plant’s productive capacity of up to 20 percent. Unexpected downtime affecting industrial manufacturers due to equipment failure results in an estimated loss of $50 billion each year according to an article from Deloitte Insights.

How predictive (or is it preventive?) maintenance works

Predictive and preventive maintenance are sometimes used interchangeably. They are technically two separate, but related concepts, both maintaining the health of your equipment and physical infrastructure of your operation.

Predictive maintenance is performed based on the current condition of equipment. If a piece of equipment is running too hot, making equipment failure imminent and requires a technician to diagnose the cause, that’s predictive maintenance. On the other hand, preventive maintenance is performed based on age and time factors, such as replacing a part every two years, per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Both predictive and preventive maintenance leverage the monitoring of sensorized equipment through an Internet of Things (IoT) suite, giving you a heads up on when to maintain your equipment, thereby preventing expensive equipment failure. For upstream oil and gas operations, that can mean wasted money and manpower on a drilling endeavor, cutting into profits from good production. In other parts of the oil and gas supply chain and in field service operations, scrambling to diagnose, then fix malfunctioning equipment can be exponentially more expensive than preventing equipment failure in the first place.

Opportunity for greater savings lies in preventive maintenance. By utilizing the technology and actualizing a maintenance strategy, oil and gas related operations possess the ability to track the deterioration equipment and parts deterioration, replace a part before it breaks down, and possibly diagnose a problem remotely.

IoT’s role in predictive maintenance

At deployment, implementation professionals program acceptable parameters for each device type.  For example, if a fuel tank reaches 5 gallons, the sensor on the tank registers the low fuel level and that data streams to a centralized cloud platform. The cloud, such as Microsoft’s Azure, serves as a central repository of critical data and feeds report data to any other point in the operation, enabling management to access the most current data from the field. In the case of the fuel tank, not only can crewman access information on which fuel tanks need refilling, but the system pushes out an alert to that crewman.

Beyond predictive maintenance

Compiling years of data through IoT, not only avails an opportunity for savings through predictive maintenance but supports efforts to optimize equipment. Through big data sets of your operation (also known as big data), comprehensive reports facilitate a holistic view of all your systems, presenting a spectacular opportunity to unearth efficiencies. Having an in-depth 360-degree view of every aspect of your processes leads to actionable insights resulting in tighter controls and more resilient profitability.

Source: Making maintenance smarter, Predictive maintenance and the digital supply network

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