How Advancements in Equipment Maintenance Keep You Competitive

January 10, 2019 Holly Welles

Modern technology has simplified maintenance, and construction firms that have adopted new methods have seen no shortage of benefits. They're a cost-saving measure, of course, but these advanced programs and processes also improve a company's reputation for speed and quality. Maintenance is no longer standard practice, but a strategy to gain an edge over the competition.


Here are a few of the software and tools construction firms have implemented to address their equipment maintenance needs -- and the extra advantages they bring.

Condition Monitoring and Preventive Maintenance

An operation has to run at peak performance to keep pace with the competition. In an industry where downtime can lead to substantial losses and scheduling setbacks, it's essential to keep equipment in working condition, free of mud, grease and grime. These substances contribute to wear and tear on machinery, causing unnecessary friction and additional issues if left unaddressed.

Fortunately, project managers have new technology at their disposal to ensure their operation proceeds without problems. They can move from unplanned to planned maintenance activities, incorporating chores like washing and cleaning their construction equipment as part of their routine. In doing so, they can find any minor complications they would've otherwise missed.

A 1 percent drop in equipment productivity can result in a 2.75 percent drop in a project's total profits. Condition monitoring is one example of a modern preventive maintenance tool a team can use to supervise their equipment — and keep profits up. A contemporary, round-the-clock set of equipment data and digital health reports makes the "minor complications" mentioned in the previous paragraph visible.


Statistical Data and Reliability-Centered Maintenance

A construction crew engages in three different types of equipment maintenance: corrective, preventive and predictive. They have a fourth option called reliability-centered maintenance, or RCM, a process where selecting a method or combining methods results in the most cost-effective solution. It's a highly organized approach that depends on statistical data, and the logic behind this technique is simple.

The primary goal is to have a specific machine or machine type operate dependably at the lowest possible cost. It's occasionally more financially responsible to let a chemical-injection pump run until it fails because it's not integral to production or sensible to replace. In these situations, strategic maintenance of components allows management to make the most of their available budget while remaining on schedule.

To integrate reliability-centered maintenance, you'd have to conduct a failure mode and effects analysis, or FMEA, which is essentially a procedure where you assemble what you already know into something of value. As you review statistical data, you can take what you've learned and create a structure for your maintenance plans, giving you an advantage over other firms that adhere to traditional methods of equipment management.


Embedded Reasoning Systems and Self-Maintenance

Embedded reasoning systems enable machinery to monitor, diagnose and make repairs without assistance from the crew — hypothetically. The technology is still under development, but it promises to assist project managers in one day optimizing their fleet to perform maintenance on gear that's not in use. It's clear how this impressive advancement can assist a firm, but you're likely curious to know how these programs operate.

Implementing self-maintenance functionality in an existing machine requires a specialized system. These embedded reasoning systems monitor a machine's condition using sensor fusion, judge that condition and diagnose faults. The machine determines repairs based on information in a database, then executes them through a computer control system and actuators within the equipment, learning as it does so.

The potential of self-maintaining machines is enormous, replacing older methods with lengthier repair times and higher management overheads. The systems will account for human error, delegating the task of maintenance to the equipment itself. A crew can then focus on their project and not the minutiae, making progress as they adhere to their schedule without fear of time-consuming breakdowns or costly holdups.


Technology Continues to Shift the Landscape

Advancements in equipment maintenance have assisted project managers in their day-to-day responsibilities, and today's technology has given them the means to outpace their competition. Tomorrow's technology promises even greater advantages, with embedded reasoning systems that can diagnose issues and make repairs without requiring outside help. And the benefits don't end there.

These systems — and other data-driven methods like reliability-centered maintenance — keep a crew safe from malfunctioning machinery, reducing the risk of injury on a jobsite. With improved safety and structure, a project manager can feel confident they'll meet their deadlines and remain on schedule, avoiding any deviation from their plans. Recent advancements in technology have simplified their duties.

As this technology continues to shift the landscape, you should research how it can help your business. Whether you invest in condition monitoring or perform an FMEA, the reliability of your equipment is what separates you from the competition.

Learn how you can reduce labor and equipment waste:


About the Author

Holly Welles

Holly Welles is a construction writer with her thumb on the pulse of industry trends. She also manages a residential real estate blog, The Estate Update.

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