Only a decade ago, I navigated my car rides with paper maps. Today, it’s hard to imagine pulling out a paper map to manually figure out directions to my destination. I have already made this transition from paper maps to electronic ones but many industrial workflows still rely on paper.
From Paper to Electronic Systems
Technicians in an industrial plant often collect the operating conditions of pumps, motors, conveyors and pipes manually, often on paper. A technician records these measurements and then manually enters the data into a corporate ERP system or asset management system. This has been the most cost effective method for collecting non-control data but it needs to change. In the same way that I left behind paper maps, industrial operations will leave behind paper condition monitoring as well. Let’s take a look at the drivers behind this transition.
This transition from paper systems to connected electronic systems is happening. Let’s consider the following motivators:
- In paper systems personnel must go into hazardous areas to collect condition measurements.
- The lower cost of wireless measurement systems means lower costs to monitor for vibration, temperature and other conditions.
- Without the need to physically visit each measurement system, electronic systems can make as many readings as needed.
- Connected electronic systems enable predictive maintenance, faster process optimization and quicker response to potential risks.
These considerations and others are making it financially beneficial to invest in the technology needed. Next we will explore the technology involved in these new connected condition monitoring systems.
The Connected Condition Monitoring System
The remainder of this article we’ll talk about this electronic system as the connected condition monitoring system. First, this system is connected. It is connected to whoever needs the information. More on this a bit later. The other part of the system is the condition monitoring aspect which includes the sensors and the application. On the right you can see how these 3 parts work together to move information from assets to the decision makers.
In the following examples you’ll see how two different use cases accomplish these 3 parts differently based on requirements. The first example is in a refinery or chemical plant and the second is in a field site like a tank farm or an open pit mine.
Chemical Plant Example:
First let’s explore this system in a chemical plant…
Open Pit Mine Example:
Next we’ll take a look at how condition monitoring could happen in an open pit mine.
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