Are You Ready? Using New Technology for Reliability and Maintenance

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I am all for new technology.

In the late 1970s I introduced and taught technologies such as SPM and Acoustic Emission, Wear Particle Analyses with Ferrography, Thermovision and many more, in China, India and other countries.  

I was also instrumental in developing the first Computerized Maintenance Management System in 1968. A much-updated version that still on the market, The Idhammar System.

Today, new technology is being introduced and adopted rapidly such as Internet of Things (IOT), cloud-based applications, better sensors, and capabilities to accumulate huge amounts of data. This is good and I am certainly all for it – when it is applied at the right time for the organization.

I like this quote from Bill Gates:

“The first rule of technology used in a business is that automation [new technology] applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation [new technology] applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Bill Gates

I fully agree with this statement because I have seen so many examples where this is true. I visited a plant that had installed on-line condition monitoring systems that overwhelmed the Reliability Engineers and others with alarms on possible early failures.

Basic Reliability and Maintenance Management Processes are Still Necessary

They were overwhelmed because their very basic reliability and maintenance management processes were not well-developed and at best only partially executed. Backlogs were increasing and failure reports from their Vibration and Oil Analyses were not be acted upon.

This new technology for the plant would have been good if they had been in a position to Plan then Schedule the correction of these failures before they develop into a breakdown.

Even though I have been preaching this for 50 years, I cannot stress enough how important it is, when implementing new technologies, that the very basics of maintenance prevention, inspections, plan, schedule and execute must be working well.

Most reliability related maintenance work is generated as a result of condition monitoring and basic inspections, right priorities in notifications and work requests, less that 10% changes in daily schedules that were frozen 20 hours in advance of execution, etc.

Most of us who have been in this business a long time knows this. But the next generation will learn a lot of new technology at colleges and conferences, which is important, necessary and very good. However, they will also have to understand that people and good execution of the basic RM processes is still necessary for successful implementation of new technologies.

With that I like to end with something I have said many times over the years:

“New Technologies are important but use only the Technologies your organization is ready for”.

Christer Idhammar
Christer Idhammar

Christer Idhammar

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