Predictive maintenance as the key to industrial efficiency
Nowadays, efficiency is one of the key factors in any industrial activity. Efficiency is a synonym for productivity, innovation and security, and it translates into a reduction in costs that means processes can be optimized and the competitiveness of companies guaranteed. Industrial processes generally have a margin for improvement in terms of efficiency, but to achieve this it is necessary to know the processes in detail as well as the technologies and innovations that make it possible.
In many cases, one of the key factors in achieving efficiency is ensuring the uninterrupted functioning of industrial processes through maintenance systems that help to anticipate machine failures and avoid unprogrammed shutdowns. This is why Dominion provides industries with innovative technologies that allow the application of ever more efficient predictive maintenance systems.
The tasks involved in predictive maintenance have two essential variables: 1) the human factor, and 2) measurement tools based on predictive technologies. Although operators spend most time in the plant and have the best knowledge of production processes, on many occasions this know-how is not enough to anticipate possible operational failures. The predictive technology offered by Dominion has become a basic tool in the early detection of problems that could lead to unprogrammed shutdowns of the production line or the non-fulfilment of production targets and incalculable financial losses.
It is therefore essential to carry out the right maintenance of equipment, and the most efficient way of doing this is through interventions at the exact moment in which the machinery needs it, not before or after.
There are different types of maintenance in modern industry, although the most common forms are corrective and preventive. In the first, the equipment is only intervened when an operational fault is detected, i.e. correcting failures when they occur. Although it does not require any kind of preliminary planning, it is the most expensive option because it leads to unforeseen shutdowns that lead to lost time and wasted money. Preventive maintenance, in contrast, is done on a periodic basis, mainly following the recommendations of the manufacturer or experienced employees. It offers more advantages than corrective maintenance but means that companies have to hold a stock of spare parts. Quite often, work is done on the machine even though it does not show a failure at the time, or when some slight damage has already been detected.
Dominion has taken another step forward, aiming its innovative efforts towards predictive maintenance and the search for maximum process efficiency. These maintenance tasks link a physical or chemical variable with the state of the machine with the aim of predicting when something will start to fail. Detailed knowledge is necessary to perform this type of maintenance, both of the equipment and the technology and tools required.
“In Dominion, thanks to our expertise in the management of industrial processes, we work with several companies to apply the technology required to know in advance when equipment on a production line is likely to fail, and thus avoid unprogrammed shutdowns. This means that companies can plan shutdowns taking all the necessary precautions and with maximum guarantees, thus improving the efficiency of their processes”, according to Ángel Pérez (National Sales Manager) and Juventino Pérez (Technical Support Manager) of Dominion.
Predictive maintenance involves making electrical and quality measurements of energy but also monitoring the temperature of equipment and its working conditions to observe the behaviour of a production line, detecting fatigue in machinery due to the use or wear and tear of one or more of its components. Through the setting of tolerance limits in these measurements, the technology can detect when the performance of equipment starts to fail and program a shutdown before the components suffer major or irreversible damage.
Dominion applies its expertise in innovation to the implementation of specific solutions such as thermal cameras to detect energy losses and hot points and locate possible faults in electrical circuits. It also carries out vibration measurements and analysis on electrical drives to check the wear and tear of their components and evaluate any possible abnormal operation, as well as Energy Quality Analysers that quantify the amount of energy lost and optimize its use.
The technology deployed by Dominion to increase the efficiency of maintenance processes includes electrical insulation gauges to check the state of wiring and drives; physical earthing gauges to ensure the safety and reliability of the plant in terms of electrostatic discharges during storms, and process calibrators to check that the electrical systems provide accurate measurements at all times.
“Our commitment to efficiency includes technical training and the correct transmission of knowledge to our end clients”, the two experts add. The multidisciplinary nature of Dominion and its search for customised solutions enable the company to support its clients in all phases of the industrial process, including theoretical training and the use of equipment supplied, thereby guaranteeing the efficient use of tools.