Asset Performance

Recent spikes in the number of accidents tied to aging equipment and infrastructure have put increasing pressure on mining facilities to protect their physical assets. Critical assets are the lifeblood of industrial organizations, and asset failure has dire consequences for both the safety of the workers and the ability of the mining facility to continue operations. As evidenced by recent mining disasters in Turkey and Chile, when assets fail, profitability plummets.

Many of these failures trace back to the use of faulty equipment that either had maintenance deferred or was not replaced at the end of its expected life. Often, it is not an issue of operator negligence, but a lack of visibility into potential problems that cause the lack of action. Because anomalies in asset performance are the first indicator that an accident is on the horizon, full transparency into asset performance and data management creates an environment that is both safer and more efficient. 

No Room For Failure

After an accident, there is always a push beyond identifying the cause, to implement technology and systems to prevent a similar incident in the future.  Executive leadership must convince shareholders that company valuation is protected and the organization must prove to regulators that employees are working under safer conditions. As a result, mining executives understand there is no room for miscalculation and poor judgment. 

Even asset intensive industries are taking a firmer stance in implementing asset management best practices such as the ISO 55000 standards. ISO 55000 has emerged to create a guide for organizations to manage their critical assets and to protect facilities from unexpected asset failures. Organizations across industries, including those in energy and mining, are putting together teams to develop comprehensive strategies to integrate asset performance management (APM) systems to adhere to the ISO 55000 standards and eliminate areas of inefficiency in the process. This creates a more productive and safer operation that will greatly limit operational risks while boosting output and solidifying the bottom line.  

Oversight and protection of critical assets is now being elevated from an operations and management issue to a boardroom focus. As today’s production environments become more data-driven, it’s increasingly important for management and operators to not only manage output and meet productivity goals, but to accurately assess operational risk. Smart organizations are the ones embracing the data driven age and using information to their advantage. Not only does it reduce complexity and risk, it creates a competitive advantage.

Smart Equipment

According to Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter and President and CEO of PTC, Jim Heppelmann, “smart connected products are reshaping competition and expanding industry boundaries.” One example is Joy Global – since the late 1990s, the leading provider of mining systems, equipment, parts and services, has focused on building progressively smarter and more connected products designed to help optimize operations. Joy Global’s product capabilities have evolved, and the company has shifted its business model, moving from selling products to selling products and services.

Joy Global is in a unique situation as an original equipment manufacturer that interacts directly with mining owner-operators to customize and optimize machine performance. Now, Joy Global is able to capture the value by using asset performance management capabilities in order to perform reliability analysis to determine failure rates and optimize component change out frequencies. By implementing optimized strategies on just two parts groups, the project team was able to exceed its ROI within the first nine months.

APM systems collect and assess data from assets to determine the health and performance of an asset and help determine whether it’s cheaper to replace aging systems or perform maintenance, supporting the move from reactive to predictive maintenance. Using Big Data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), mining operators can establish the optimal interval of asset maintenance to reduce downtime and financial losses. With all asset data incorporated into a unified APM solution, asset managers and stakeholders can easily access a user-friendly dashboard from any device to review data on a specific event or review performance trends. 

Asset management solutions allow organizations to build a risk-based strategy and align goals to their asset life cycle through reliable information and indicators. With APM capabilities, facilities are able to flag when equipment is running at less than peak proficiency and mitigate the potential of failure. Furthermore, APM drives better management of workflow from a single source, including gathering data related to work history, measuring all the costs related to the asset (i.e., production losses) and measuring asset health with advanced inspection and sensor technology. 

Fingers Crossed?

The days of simply hoping for the best and relying upon insurance to protect you should something go wrong are a thing of the past. The magnitude of the dollars involved has forced insurers to reevaluate their approach to covering aging infrastructure. In many cases, if facilities can’t demonstrate that they meet a minimum threshold of asset integrity, such as ISO 55000, coverage will be refused placing the risk squarely in the hands of the corporation. 

Energy and mining organizations are and will continue to remain under increasing pressure to operate facilities that are not only productive, but are as safe as possible for the workforce, the environment and the surrounding community. This process begins by having greater insight into the working condition of the assets you count upon to deliver the end result. A more strategic schedule of maintenance and replacement as well as planned partial shutdowns of plants can help to eliminate unexpected problems and mitigate risks. This all begins with information. 

fancilei pereira is a consultant with asset management firm Meridium.

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