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Transforming maintenance planning: How technology is revolutionizing the way we work

In March, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development published the 2023 Technology and Innovation Report, which left one resounding message: the world must embrace the tech revolution or risk falling behind. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan affirmed that “this new wave of technological change will have a formidable impact on the global economy.” The report established that missing this technological wave would have long-lasting negative implications. Now, it is more critical than ever that the operations, maintenance, and reliability industry take urgent action to digitally transform in the face of the tech revolution.

In our previous post, we addressed the importance of maintenance and reliability, and took a look at an overview of work management processes with a deep dive into work identification. Now we’ll move on to a thorough review of maintenance planning, the current state, and how technology is optimizing planning, increasing productivity, and impacting safety.

Maintenance planning is critical for a number of key reasons, including:

  • Controlling facility and operational cost - The high costs of maintaining physical assets requires that they be carefully managed. They inflate operational costs and thin out profit margins. Failing to do maintenance the right way means more labor, parts and contracts. It also means lower product quality, lost production time, wasted resources, safety issues, higher energy costs, environment issues, and reduced asset life space.

  • Managing budget and controlling costs- Budget needs to include funds for preventive (planned) and corrective maintenance. Budget and controlling costs is managed by combining multiple styles of maintenance including time-based, and predictive maintenance strategies to optimize the efficiency of each asset. Preventive maintenance is particularly important as it contributes to the reduction of unanticipated breakdowns and the associated costly emergency repairs.

  • Complying with regulations - Each industry has numerous regulations with which they must comply. For example, in the US oil and gas companies are required to comply with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulations. Each compliance goal requires a plan of its own and can include: inspecting assets for damage, having a system in place to report damage, ensuring there are adequate safety guards and processes in place, ensuring proper documentation, reporting and storage of all repair and replacement work, and more.

  • Ensuring personnel safety - Health and safety requirements are highly regulated in many industries today. Maintenance management must ensure that the safety of personnel is ensured both inside and outside the maintenance department. Apart from inspection, other activities include pest control, waste management, sanitation services, managing electrical, plumbing and other work, and more.

  • Extending useful machine life - When a machine fails it results in downtime and has a significant impact on operations. Maintenance planning assists in minimizing the effects of wear and tear on frequently used components. Additionally,preventive measures can be taken to make adjustments and perform calibrations to keep equipment in optimal operating order.

  • Maximizing facility performance - Properly managed maintenance will have a positive impact on the facility’s key performance indicators (KPIs), including equipment utilization and inventory accuracy.

But maintenance management is changing. And with it, maintenance planning. Let’s look at just a few of the jobs maintenance planners do today. They…

  • Validate the scope of the maintenance activities

  • Document what needs to be done and how to do it

  • Visit the site to conduct inspections

  • Document those inspections and upload to the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)

  • Verify and document existing conditions in site

  • Remove obstructions (logistical verification)

  • Validate and/or request work permits

  • Check compliance documentation

  • Plan for resources using the CMMS and order materials required

  • Manage the logistical planning

This is enormously time consuming, frustrating, and can be unsafe. Why? There are three main reasons:

  1. Documentation is not all in the same place. It is siloed and in different non-integrated systems that are not easily searchable. The data that is available is not contextualized and is all in 2D.

  2. Collaborating and communicating with their team and subcontractors is time consuming. It can be difficult, if not impossible to ensure that everyone has access to the same information at the same time to facilitate conversation and good decision-making.

  3. Visiting the site increases their risk of site exposure and requires travel time and cost.

So, how exactly is technology revolutionizing traditional maintenance planning? Maintenance planners can now:

  • Plan remotely. 3D remote planning allows for the visualization of rights of way, hazardous areas, elevation lines, boundaries between assets and more in 2D or 3D, including 360° panoramic views with high resolution zoom capability

  • Insert dimensional objects to imitate equipment and materials that are to be brought on site to visualize them socially in 3D

  • Search for and easily find all the documentation needed including permits engineering documents, internet of things (IoT), geospatial information, digital inspection records from UAVs, drones and site cams, and more in a single web-based application that is fully integrated with all other databases and systems

  • Collaborate with the team and subcontractors within the application tying all commentary to the relevant objects in real-time within the same interface

We’ve fully reviewed work identification and planning, but before we move on to a deep dive into the phases of scheduling, execution and closeout, in our next post we’ll take a quick detour to look at how VEERUM’s digital twin application is already impacting the digitization and optimization of heavy industry maintenance management.

To learn more about how technology is impacting maintenance management by enabling data aggregation, contextualization and remote 3D visualization of assets, download the full white paper here.


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