I had spent about 20 years in fix and repair organizations when I accepted a position with a medium sized industrial miner as Maintenance Manager. By this time in my working life I had been introduced to the predictive technologies, luckily, and had developed a good knowledge of oil analysis, vibration, thermography , ultra sound and motor circuit evaluation. The technologies would have been considered emerging in those days when a 486 was a big desktop computer. Suffice it to say that networking systems had not matured much and software and databases were terribly unstable. Still though use of the technologies were beginning to prove valuable. Likewise, CMMS systems were just starting to enter use. They were crude and suffered the same issues as other software of the time. For the most part no one wanted to use them anyway. Younger readers will no doubt be unable to imagine a pre internet, facebook, twitter and email existence. This was the technology landscape of the early 1990’s not the 1890’s.
The organization I joined was performing maintenance activities early on a time basis and not unlike hundreds of other maintenance organizations of the time. They faced a couple of major challenges including rising costs, competition and market conditions, a need to expand production and an aging infrastructure. I was tasked to transform it into a modern functioning high performing organization. As I found in most places, later in life, the workers were good people and they wanted to perform. Most had 20 plus years of experience and had worked for this mining company a substantial part of their career. Oh did I mention that during this transition there was an underground union organizing effort going on and in the wisdom of management they had reorganized and assigned my maintenance leads to production jobs. But because the equipment performance was low there was plenty of low hanging fruit. So where did we start? It was pretty basic stuff.
What were the results?
You can read about this program and the success at http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/16/proactive-oil-analysis
Fast forward 20 years. Mining organizations are facing the same challenges as we did so long ago. Technology has improved considerably but as I go out to mines and plants I still find the preponderance of tasks are performed on time basis, and there is great resistance to going on condition. Typical are RCM efforts that develop tactics translated into work orders but still having a time based element. Where there is claimed to be on condition it looks more like age experimentation to me. There seems to be a reluctance to use the full benefits of the predictive technologies to establish the condition of a machine. Now with IoT and machine data so much more can be learned and far greater insights can be developed than from the landscape of 20 years ago. What I would have given for that data way back when.
As I traveled on through my work life and took on other assignments the formative years of that fundamental work stuck with me and I was able to assist organizations with getting more life out of their assets. There are many stories of doubling component life I can tell and an equal number of converted naysayers and detractors of course. Here at XRT one thing that we are still passionate about is migrating an organization to on condition. That is maintenance on need alone. If there is any way we can help please give us a call to have a chat.
Winter is full on out here in Wyoming and we had -33 degrees last week. If anyone has any spare global warming send it out here.
Best wishes to all of you and your programs.