Barts blog: The future plant starts today!

Barts blog #1

As a reliability engineer at Sitech Asset Health Center, I regularly visit plants at the Chemelot Site in Geleen. I often still see maintenance of assets being done in a traditional way. Surprising, considering the positive results we are seeing from digital monitoring, which means greater uptime. But why is this form of maintenance still being used, to a limited extent? Is it the cost? Is it a lack of awareness? Because the first step toward a digital plant can be taken with a low-threshold approach and a few hundred euros.

Start small
Take, for example, the cleaning of heat exchangers due to contamination. Often a simple maintenance operation when scheduled on time. What chemical engineer does not spend time running efficiency calculations on a regular basis, time that could be spent on better things? And finds out that cleaning should have been done yesterday? The alternative is digital monitoring. Temperature sensors, which are placed on a heat exchanger, are cheap sensors to implement. In combination with a data warehouse and dashboard suite, you can monitor the condition of a heat exchanger in real time with 3 to 4 sensors. This means more efficient deployment of personnel, no unnecessary maintenance, and 24/7 insight into the condition of your assets. Sitech also has advanced models in which, for example, process variables are included.

Digital cockpit for your assets 
The data from the sensors is fed into a digital model so the condition of the heat exchanger can be monitored visually and in real time. This allows you to see at a glance whether the heat exchanger is performing optimally. And what is even better: an efficiency threshold can be defined for the model to generate the maintenance order for cleaning directly. Why spend your own time on this when there is a better way?

Digital monitoring gives us so much more knowledge about the actual condition of assets, enables us to predict future situations, and allows us to make decisions based on facts rather than intuition. Moreover, the expert has time for other things and co-workers have access to the data anytime, anywhere.

The future plant starts today!
A few small steps are all it takes to start the transition to a digital plant... which is definitely on its way! So why do we keep doing maintenance like we used to? Engineers, asset owners, wake up! Start small, but start today. Take a look at the possibilities for digital monitoring within your organization. I guarantee that with these small steps, work can be done much more efficiently and personnel can be used more effectively.

Sitech Services and the Sitech Asset Health Center are experts in the field of maintenance and digital asset performance management. We advise and coach clients in their transition to the digital plant and strive for maximum efficiency from every plant. Are you interested in working toward the digital plant but are struggling with the first steps? Then please contact me. I would be happy to talk to you.

Bart Kooyman

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