Bluefield brought our asset experience together in collaboration with data specialists to assist a client get more from their assets.
By Ponnai Umapathy
Asset Health is a rapidly-growing field in the mining industry, as sites look to make the most of their on-board data and condition monitoring results. It’s a topic that Bluefield has written about previously (see here and here).
A critical part of successfully implementing an asset health program is to bring together the latest in data science and analytical expertise and combine it with asset-specific knowledge that’s been learned over many years. The results are always better through collaboration than by working separately.
Bluefield were recently engaged to assist one of our clients – a globally diversified resources company – with a project to enable them to carry out remote asset health monitoring of their mobile equipment fleet from a centralised location.
Our client was already working with specialist service providers to collect data and relay the information to their centralised control centre. Once they’d received the data, the client utilised an asset health software platform to analyse it. The objectives were to:
- Enable cost savings through proactively replacing components before they failed, thereby preventing unplanned downtime; and
- Extend component life and improve reliability by managing operational exceptions and pre-failure analytics.
The client had done some great work assembling the infrastructure and analytical know-how. The missing piece was in being able to describe what failures looked like in the early stages. What were the acceptable temperatures and pressures? What were the early indicators of component failure? At what point should you bring the equipment into the workshop?
Bluefield’s role was therefore to assist the data and analytics specialists by providing the necessary know-how about fleet operating parameters and service limits.
Utilising our extensive knowledge base, applying our technical equipment knowledge and practical maintenance experience, we were able to deliver our client’s requirement ahead of schedule and under budget.
However, a major learning for both us and the client during the project was that the scope had to expand to include more than just defining acceptable limits. Providing clear advice to the on-site teams on what actions to take when specific thresholds were reached or flags were raised to identify changed conditions. Planners and reliability engineers are frequently busy, and inaction can be a killer of asset health programs, so the easier we can make their job, the better.
Therefore, Bluefield was asked to provide additional services to assist with developing the monitoring and action generation logic to support the program. We developed the policies and templates for six equipment models, which included:
- The policy, what we are trying to achieve?
- The required sensor inputs.
- The expected conditions for the inputs.
- Condition thresholds and limits.
- The required calculations.
- Suggested actions and planning priority which correspond to the conditions.
The end result has allowed the client to move into deployment, and we continue to provide advice and support where needed. For Bluefield, the project was an excellent chance to learn how we can combine practical knowledge and experience with technology to make the lives of maintainers easier by reducing the number of decisions and actions they have to take on a daily basis.