Reducing Industrial Facility Downtime with Technology: A Comprehensive Guide

In the industrial sector, downtime can be a significant problem that can lead to lost revenue, decreased productivity, and increased maintenance costs. In fact, according to a report by Aberdeen Group, unplanned downtime can cost industrial facilities an average of $260,000 per hour. Fortunately, technology can help reduce downtime and improve overall facility efficiency — this is one of the primary reasons we created Stilt back in 2017.

One of the main ways technology can help reduce downtime is to predict when a failure is likely to occur before it does — this is often referred to as predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance methods rely on advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to understand signals in the incoming data that may indicate an upcoming failure event. By building models around historical data, these algorithms can predict in the future the likelihood of failure. The obvious upside to predictive maintenance is in preventing the failure before it occurs, however this comes at a cost… because these tools make predictions, they are often viewed with skepticism. And, even if you act upon the predictive maintenance recommendations, you might be deliberately taking some downtime (or performing additional maintenance tasks during planned downtime) for an inspection that ultimately finds no imminent failure — casting doubt over the predictive maintenance program. The reality is, predictive maintenance has been proven to work provided it is given the right management support.

Another way technology can help reduce downtime is through remote monitoring. While remote monitoring has existed for decades in industrial facilities, recent innovations in new sensor types, edge computing, and networking have allowed for new ways to detect and monitor equipment that was traditionally much more difficult to do. With remote monitoring, sensors and other devices are installed on equipment to track performance and gather data in real-time. This data is then sent to a central monitoring system, where facility managers can monitor equipment performance and receive alerts if there are any issues. While predictive maintenance aims to prevent an incident from occurring, remote monitoring is simply observing the conditions being monitored. The reason remote monitoring is so important is because many failures start small with observable failure signals before the failure becomes catastrophic. This allows facility operators and managers to intervene and prevent a larger failure from occurring, leading to less unplanned downtime overall. One innovative way facilities are remotely monitoring equipment is through computer vision and A.I. camera technologies like Canopy Vision.

In addition to predictive maintenance and remote monitoring, technology can also help reduce downtime by improving communication and collaboration between teams. For example, digital collaboration tools can help teams communicate more effectively and share information in real-time, improving overall productivity and reducing the risk of miscommunication that may lead to downtime. While often untracked, miscommunication is a large driver of extended unplanned downtime. With digital technologies like mobile apps and software platforms that are used in the field, many of these communication issues can be mitigated.

Stilt plays a key role in one of the more important technology categories for reducing downtime, specifically around the use of cloud-based maintenance management systems. Stilt can help track maintenance schedules, work orders, and other important data, allowing facility managers to stay on top of maintenance tasks and reduce the risk of downtime. Stilt also helps with communication to third-party work groups, who are often not given access to the facility-wide computerized maintenance management systems.

Downtime can be a significant problem for industrial facilities, leading to lost revenue, decreased productivity, and increased maintenance costs. However, technology like Stilt can help reduce downtime and improve overall facility efficiency through tools like predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, digital collaboration tools, cloud-based maintenance management systems, and A.I.. By embracing technologies like Stilt, industrial facilities can minimize downtime, reduce costs, and stay ahead of the competition.

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