Archive | Asset Performance Blog


2:29 pm
June 20, 2014
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It’s All About Asset Health

Jay Lee, Professor of Engineering and Director of the Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems at the University of Cincinnati always tells me “It’s all about equipment health.” Dr. Lee’s doctoral and post-doctoral researchers have uncovered many equipment health issues in a variety of factory settings and developed analysis tools to help manufacturers correct and improve the situations.

Dan MiklovicUntil now, I really haven’t seen much from the analyst community digging deeply into asset health. Dan Miklovic, a respected manufacturing IT analyst, now works with LNS Research covering Asset Health.

Miclovic writes in a recent blog post Why Healthy Assets are the Foundation of a Healthy Business.

“It seems everyone in business these days is obsessed with driving productivity or quality improvements, or talking about driving costs down or improving sustainability. Why then do so many still treat plant (or asset) maintenance like ‘that cousin we don’t talk about?’ ”

He speculates, “So maybe it’s no wonder businesses tend to think of asset maintenance as a cost of doing business that we need to minimize, thinking that in doing so it means we don’t have problems. Unfortunately, asset maintenance and asset management are not the same thing, and while we should be managing our assets, too often we just maintain them, and then rather poorly.”

He cites some disturbing recent research indicating roughly 3 out of 4 plants in the world still practice reactive maintenance as the norm. When surveyed, contributors to LNS Research’s recent studies show that among all the applications typically used to support business, asset health management ranks lower than most with only 38% adoption.

Miklovic calls for management to invest in the tools maintenance and reliability professionals and engineers need to go beyond reaactive maintenance. He adds, “Asset Health and Performance improvement is difficult without adequate investment and getting the necessary funds to invest in the technology needed to accomplish your goals is a prerequisite.”

Of the software applications available to manufacturers Asset Management fares the worst in LNS Research studies. Half of companies surveyed have no plans to implement it. Manufacturing Execution Systems and Data Historians are next on the do not plan to use scale with 40% each.

Obviusly we are not investing in tools to help plants improve overall performance. It is important that we learn to speak “executive-ese” to convince executives about the critical need to improve our tools.


6:54 pm
June 17, 2014
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Analytics for Predictive Maintenance Featured at Rockwell Event

F Kulaszewicz RSTechED 2014Rockwell Automation’s consistent theme for more than ten years concerns the connected manufacturing enterprise. RSTechED, the annual Rockwell Software user conference and training session, kicked off its 17th edition this week in Orlando with a record attendance greater than 1,900. The reality of the connected manufacturing enterprise is gaining ever more critical mass.

Predictive maintenance analytics based upon data gathered from distributed, connected sensors (the Internet of Things idea) empowers maintenance professionals now to find and fix problems before a costly shut down. Repairs and upgrades can be coordinated with production to minimize impact on throughput.

Frank Kulaszewicz, Rockwell Sr. VP Architecture and Software, said in his keynote address that the industry is in a digital inflection point. Control systems are smarter and connected increasing the opportunity for value improvements. He cited estimates that $3.8 trillion of value has already been created with Industrial Internet of Things.


12:38 am
May 21, 2014
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Reliability the Keyword at PAS Technology Conference

The PAS Technology Conference is in session May 19-21. PAS bills itself as the “Human Reliability” company, and indeed reliability broadly speaking was a conference theme. This is also a celebration of PAS’s 20th anniversary, and historical references were everywhere.

PAS Founder and CEO Eddie Habibi

PAS Founder and CEO Eddie Habibi

Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO, introduced the Conference Theme of Connecting the Dots by looking at the thinking of Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author (“The Age of Spiritual Machines” and “Singularity”). Noting that 86% of the predictions Kurzweil made in his Machines book have already come true, Habibi said that futurists work by bringing together various technologies into some ideas on trends—connecting the dots.

He was the first of several who talked about first looking at assets as data, then relating to the actual physical asset. Data can be collected, organized, contextualized, and displayed to help operations and maintenance make a reliable plant and increase the company’s profitability.

Inspiration, collaboration, invention

Habibi concluded, “Opportunities are there for us as a company that brings software solutions to great customer relationships. Customers bring inspiration, collaboration, and invention. We’re excited about it, and we want to be here another 20 years.”

At dinner the night before, I had the opportunity to talk to two of the conference’s keynoters who are both with production companies. Keith Dicharry is director of controls and Instrumentation at BASF and Andy Geddes is controls and instrumentation manager for Scottish Power (as in the UK). Both were eloquent in their descriptions about the engineer’s role in helping maintenance and operations achieve a reliable plant.

Dicharry said in his keynote, “If we increase the reliability of equipment, we will increase our profitability. The goal for increasing reliability is to increase access to data. I want a rotating equipment engineer in Germany to be able to talk to a rotating equipment engineer in the US about a compressor where they can both look at all the data sets and figure out why one works well and the other has problems on a conference call rather than a flight across the pond.”

Harvey Ivey, manager of instrumentation and control systems and field support at The Southern Company, told the conference the story about how he worked with operators and others to develop displays that would give operations situational awareness of the health of their processes at a glance. His work, and collaboration with PAS, led to the development of the PowerGraphix product.

Alstom, in another conference announcement, has done much research on improving performance resulting in an agreement for it to become a reseller of PowerGraphix to its customers.

Security partnership

The day’s final announcement involved another partnership—this time PAS and Tripwire—a provider of risk-based security and compliance management solutions. The partnership is part of the Tripwire NERC Alliance Network Program that has been designed to foster collaboration on critical infrastructure compliance and security solutions to help companies efficiently and effectively achieve NERC CIP compliance.

According to PAS, the integration between the PAS Integrity Software Suite and Tripwire NERC Solution Suite will provide mutual energy customers with automation software that reduces the time and resources required to collect audit evidence. The integration brings a consistent approach to the management and maintenance of secure configurations across a wide range of devices including Industrial Control Systems (ICS), SCADA, Microsoft Windows and Windows Servers.


3:16 pm
May 12, 2014
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Reading and Sharing Measurements Anywhere

Last week a group visited the Maintenance Technology offices in the Chicago area from Fluke in order to introduce us to a new product—FlukeConnect.

Fluke Connect Trends Three Phases

Fluke Connect Trends Three Phases

FlukeConnect combines many trends occurring in industry and consumer technology. These trends include smaller, mobile devices and leveraging the “cloud” or data anywhere. It also enables improved collaboration for problem solving through the use of video and data sharing.

Fluke recognizes that maintenance technicians make better, faster decisions when they have field access to maintenance records and when they can review measurements in real time with team members and supervisors. Yet records are usually kept back in the office and team members are rarely in the same place at the same time. The Fluke Connect system solves these problems while increasing the safety of technicians working with energized equipment.

FlukeConnect Transfer Motor Data

FlukeConnect Transfer Motor Data

The Fluke Connect system allows maintenance technicians to wirelessly transmit measurement data from their test tools to their smart phones for secure storage on the cloud and universal team access from the field. More than 20 Fluke tools connect wirelessly with the app, including digital multimeters, infrared cameras, insulation testers, process meters, and specific voltage, current and temperature models.

Technicians can AutoRecord measurements and infrared images to Fluke Cloud storage from wherever they’re working, without writing anything down. Everyone on the team with a smart phone and the app can see the data.

Team collaboration is made easy with ShareLive video calls, where technicians can share measurements with other team members in real time, get approvals for repairs or get questions answered without leaving the field.

The Fluke Connect app features EquipmentLog history, which allows technicians to assign measurements to specific equipment, creating a cloud-based history of test measurement data for easy access during both troubleshooting and reliability maintenance. And TrendIt enables technicians to instantly graph data, helping to identify trends and quickly make informed decisions.

Fluke Cloud storage is built upon state-of-the-art security, including secure access, electronic surveillance, multi-factor access control systems, built-in firewalls, and encrypted data storage.

The Fluke Connect app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.


9:14 pm
May 9, 2014
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Asset Management Software Enhancements

Ventyx World 2014

Ventyx World 2014

Once again, I could not attend the Ventyx World user conference. The latest one just closed, and I had three days of intense meetings at the office. Sounds like I missed some interesting discussions, though. Ventyx is now a part of ABB.

There were some product and partnership announcements at the event. These included a new intuitive user interface, cloud-based solutions and a partnership with InStep Software bring improvements to ABB’s enterprise software portfolio.

Ventyx’s partnership with InStep Software, a leading provider of predictive monitoring software, will combine InStep’s PRiSM software for predictive monitoring with Ventyx’s Asset Performance Management solutions, delivering a comprehensive platform for reducing unplanned stoppages, optimizing maintenance costs and increasing equipment availability.

Ventyx User Experience

Ventyx User Experience

The intuitive interface of the new user-centered interface (UX) enables operators to focus on their core responsibilities, rather than worrying about how to operate the tool. By combining operational technology (OT) with Information Technology (IT), Ventyx software converts large volumes of data, generated by increasingly intelligent infrastructure, into actionable information that can be easily accessed via the UX. By presenting this information to operators via customized graphical interfaces, the UX enables users — from field crews and control center operators to company executives — make better-informed decisions and run their operations more effectively.

Ventyx’s cloud-based software solutions maximize flexibility and help users optimize capital expenditure in mining and utility applications. By offering Software as a Service (SaaS) through the highly versatile medium of the cloud, Ventyx can offer its asset management solutions at reduced hardware costs to the customer and key mining solutions as a “pay-as-you-go” service. In addition to the inherent cost reductions delivered by the software’s functionality, this purchasing model eliminates up-front capital investments in enterprise software. It is particularly suitable for small- to medium-sized organizations, though it can be scaled easily to accommodate the needs of large enterprises.


7:39 pm
April 30, 2014
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Permanently Wet Coating Improves Manufacturing Processes

Imagine painting your bedroom and there was none of the dried up paint accumulating on the lid of the can. Or when you were finishing with one can, you could get all the paint out of the can.

Better yet, if you are a manufacturer of products such as paint and wanted to keep the filling machines from continual clogging during manufacturing.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Carsten Boers, president of MIT spin off company LiquiGlide. The company is the result of research by now CEO Dave Smith at MIT into developing intellectual property around “superhydrophobic” systems or permanently wet surfaces. Some of the work was pointed at the problem with methane hydrates in certain oil and gas applications. They are looking at systems for getting toothpaste out of the tubes, eliminating some of the hazardous waste involved in tossing paint cans and now also in agrochemical areas.

The company does not sell a “product” per se, but it helps customers develop applications licensing its IP. This is one of those technologies that has much potential in many areas.

Last week’s press release announced the “world’s first” commercially viable super-slippery coating for paint and paint colorants. LiquiGlide’s permanently wet coating prevents paint products from sticking to cans and manufacturing equipment reducing waste and hazardous pollution and improving production efficiency.

Press release

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint is the most voluminous and expensive household hazardous material that local governments collect and manage. The EPA estimates that between 35 and 103 million gallons of post-consumer architectural paint is disposed of by U.S. households annually. Improper waste disposal is also a major problem, with one gallon of paint capable of polluting up to 250,000 gallons of water.

LiquiGlide’s paint coating allows for easy and complete evacuation. As a result, consumers get all the paint they pay for, reducing waste and significantly improving quality as paint will no longer dry on container lids and contaminate fresh paint. For paint manufacturers, LiquiGlide improves energy efficiency and reduces paint build-up on their equipment, cutting downtime and cleaning costs. LiquiGlide’s coating can also reduce the amount of paint that reaches landfills and incinerators from both consumers and manufacturers.

LiquiGlide’s coating for paint and paint colorants was tested with more than 30 unique paint formulations and colors. The primary coating research included testing water-based paints and colorants on coated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) surfaces.

Key facts about LiquiGlide for paint and paint colorants include:

  • Safety – LiquiGlide contains no VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  • Zero Product Impact – LiquiGlide has no impact on paint performance.
  • Durability – LiquiGlide withstands rigorous paint shaking, stirring and transportation.
  • Longevity – LiquiGlide has a shelf life of more than 16 months.
  • Customizability – LiquiGlide is customizable for each individual application to meet the needs of different paintformulations and surface materials.
  • Scalability – LiquiGlide can be applied using a spray-on process with equipment costs of approximately $150,000 per production line.
  • Odorless – LiquiGlide is completely odorless.
  • Recyclability – LiquiGlide has no effect on the paint container recycling.

“We’ve been working with several of the major manufacturers in the paint industry and we expect to see LiquiGlide for paint and paint colorants used in production lines this year and in commercial products within the next 18 months,” said LiquiGlide CEO, Dave Smith.

The companies hosts videos of LiquiGlide for paint in action.


2:13 pm
November 15, 2013
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Automation Insider: All Eyes On Asset Performance

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Editorial Director

You may have noticed a change in my byline. At the beginning of September, my partner Glen Gudino and I joined Applied Technology Publications as Executive Directors. Glen will lead the publication’s sales teams; I will set strategic direction and coverage, as well as lead the editorial, electronic-media and finance teams. After founding Automation World magazine and leading it for 10 years, there were new challenges to conquer. The Manufacturing Connection is where I write about general manufacturing and operations management software. Maintenance Technology is where I’ll emphasize my automation and plant expertise.

I’ve just returned from attending six different conferences in four weeks. During my travels, a number of industry leaders provided me with input on what they see coming up and on where we should position Maintenance Technology. A review of the magazine’s readership and other expert insight added to that input. All this information is going into the creative mix as we position our publication to capture the thought-leadership position for the next 10 years.

That said, some of you also may have noticed a subtle change in the title of the magazine last month: the addition of “Asset Performance.” This is a signal of the direction we’re heading. When we look at where our readers are, the term “maintenance” seems to be too limiting by itself.

Maintenance and reliability are really about uptime—or asset availability. At least half of you have broader responsibility than that. Many are also concerned with maximum asset use—throughput. This fact is often in conflict with asset availability, which can lead to internal conflict among operations and maintenance teams. Throw in engineering and IT functions and those plant conflicts increase. We want to find the “win-win” among the camps. That’s asset performance. Obtaining the best performance from your assets leads to operational excellence and increased plant profitability. 

You’ll find the same great columnists and technology discussions in the magazine as in the past. But we’ll bring an increased focus on stories about how plant professionals have implemented technologies that enhance asset performance. We’re also broadening the coverage of technologies so that you can learn about all the great tools that exist to help you perform at maximum capability.

Speaking of great tools, the Invensys software user group was held the week before I wrote this column in October. My first breakfast meeting there was with Saadi Kermani, who promptly had me load the SmartGlance app on my iPhone—and begin playing with it. You can do it, too, just to get a glimpse of where mobility is going. Go to the App Store in iOS, Android or Windows 8, search for SmartGlance, and download. (You can listen to the podcast conversation I recorded with Saadi at

The good folks from Avantis, the enterprise asset management (EAM) part of Invensys software, have been pretty quiet publicly for a long time. Luckily, their management has encouraged them to increase promotion of their brand and product. You’ll see more from this group soon.

By the way, I love conversations. Send a note any time. You can also find me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter at @garymintchell. Check out the Maintenance Technology group on LinkedIn—ask questions and participate. As our Website undergoes improvements, there will be increased opportunities for you to voice your opinions. MT

Gary Mintchell,, is Executive Director of Applied Technology Publications. He also writes at

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