Asset management best practices in the chemicals industry

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October 5, 2021By Mihir Shah

The average lifespan of assets in the chemicals industry has increased over time, and as a result, the associated maintenance work has significantly increased along with it. As per some estimates, 50% of fixed costs for a typical chemicals plant are the result of continuous maintenance work. This maintenance work can be classified into three categories: reactive, preventive, and predictive.

Reactive maintenance

As the name suggests, reactive maintenance is performed after something breaks down. When a company dedicates a significant amount of its time, money, and resources to conducting reactive maintenance, the company typically “pays for it” in the form of schedule interruptions, rescheduling, lost volume/sales, lost customers, lower pricing power to attract new customers, fines and charges, etc. While cutting maintenance costs may look profitable, a complete assessment of all side effects would likely prove otherwise. In fact, the total cost of reactive maintenance can turn out to be two to three times higher than a preventive maintenance approach.

Preventive maintenance

Many organizations rely on OEM specifications to tell them when to perform preventive maintenance and what steps to take. While this is a good discipline, it can often be executed at the extremes. Either the preventive maintenance is performed too frequently (causing production disruptions), or the maintenance isn’t carried out until it’s too late. Moreover, the data captured from this type of “standard maintenance” doesn’t offer many insights into the true state of the asset and does little to help guide future maintenance needs.

Yet this approach, especially for assets whose failures are hard to predict, is a better approach than reactive maintenance. With a modern EAM solution, users can determine optimum maintenance schedules and automatically create and assign work orders. Preventive maintenance typically does help extend asset longevity, while improving productivity.

Predictive maintenance

According to the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP), predictive maintenance is: “An equipment maintenance strategy based on assessing the condition of an asset to determine the likelihood of failure and then taking appropriate action to avoid failure” before the failure actually occurs.

Combining preventive and predictive maintenance along with the corrective work orders that come out of them, creates a complete picture of proactive work. This prescriptive and precise proactive work is at the cutting edge of asset management and first-class maintenance.

A modern EAM solution from an industry-leading solution provider can issue early warnings of asset conditions that are outside of optimal parameters. Such a system can provide sensor data and run analytics to help users determine when failures are likely to occur in the future. Beyond that, it can use algorithms and machine learning models to determine exact breaking points; elevate decision-making to right level based on severity; identify the people, processes, and tools needed to fix issues before they occur; and auto-update results based on the latest work performed.

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