Maintenance schedules and regulations need to go the way of the dinosaur

Picture of a planning calendar

Because of IoT, many maintenance schedules will soon go the way of the dinosaur. So what happens to the thousands of national and international standards and regulations that define maintenance schedules?

The inevitable rise of Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)

Up front costs for CBM have been seen as too expensive but the explosion of IoT is driving sensor miniaturisation and cheaper prices. This is rapidly reducing the barrier to entry and CBM will inevitably replace many areas of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) because it

  1. delivers large energy savings by ensuring equipment performance at peak efficiency and
  2. provides trend analysis which allows for a more cost-effective predictive maintenance schedule

With low up-front investments, who wouldn’t take advantage of the long term cost savings. The ROI is measured in months.

There are of course exceptions where parts have a defined shelf life or where sensors are ineffective, e.g ensuring there are no leaks in a rolled up fire hose, etc.

Regulations and standards will need to catch up

National and international regulations and standards have to catch up because they are built on the principle that a system will continue to perform to the approved design when routine service is conducted on a pre-determined and regular basis.

These service intervals were probably created decades ago and updated as technology improved, but still based on statistical analysis and Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) to try to predict when equipment or systems are about to perform sub-optimally or fail. As a result, recording compliance to the maintenance schedule defined in the standards means that organisations have to keep maintenance records, 99% of which are still paper-based.

Standards need to change to reflect that a system can continue to perform to the approved design when condition-based maintenance is conducted as required.

Compliance reporting can become electronic, automatic and exception-based, saving industries billions of dollars per year by eliminating mountains of paperwork.

For example, with sensors,

  • Closed-loop tests could be carried out daily instead of quarterly and chemicals added as required
  • Cleaning grease from canopies and grease traps only needs to take place once a certain build-up has occurred
  • Temp readings of fridges and freezers are already being done remotely. We can use graphs with 15min intervals instead of log sheets with temperature readings 8 hours apart.

A request to the manufacturers and regulators

So here are my requests.

To the manufacturers – When designing your IoT sensor packages for your equipment, please arrange it so that the sensor outputs and reports meet the needs of the maintenance tests defined by the standards. They were put in place for a reason, often to save lives.

To the regulators – Standards need to catch up with the technology. Maybe we don’t need monthly, 6 monthly, annual tests etc. Maybe we don’t need to log everything on a piece of paper. Maybe electronic records are OK.

Shock, horror, maybe even some standards can be scrapped!

Nigel Dalton-Brown, GAICD, AMIIA, MBA

Managing Director, Chair, Speaker, Lecturer, Author

Nigel is the Founder of Strytex and has been presenting and writing on Goverence, Obligational Awarenss, Risk Management and Compliance administration (GORC) since 2010.

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