How can water companies enable effective remote working through remote condition monitoring?
How can they minimise maintenance visits through remote condition monitoring?
Keeping staff and customers safe means that remote working has become the new normal during the COVID-19 crisis. Companies are having to rise to the challenge of remote working. They have concerns whether they can be as effective as when they were going to their offices, plants and factories. Engineers are concerned that maintenance programmes could be delayed. The subsequent effects could include increased failure rates and increased cost of repairs and maintenance.
Organisations are being asked to limit site work but still need to ensure that assets continue to operate properly.
How can this be possible without regular in-person site visits?
But some water companies are actually finding that they can be more effective by using remote condition monitoring.
What is remote condition monitoring?
Remote condition monitoring is a system of sensors that provides information about how an asset is performing. The collected data, such as vibration or temperature can be processed and results sent wirelessly to help answer questions like:
- Does this asset need maintenance?
- Which assets should I prioritise first?
- Where should I deploy my maintenance staff and when?
- Should the asset be refurbished or replaced?
How 8power is enabling more effective remote working
8power is working with customers to provide regular, real-time assets condition information to operational managers and field engineers who cannot be on-site at this time. The easy to read information includes key performance indicators and operational insights.
To help maintain continuous operations, customers can carry out remote condition monitoring of critical assets. The data reveals insights that mitigate risk to those assets. Customers can also save money on downtime and capital investment. This is because sensors can detect small problems that can be quickly fixed, before developing into more serious issues or even catastrophic failure.
Seven Trent achieves cost savings and more effective remote working
One customer, Severn Trent recently took part in a pilot with 8power at its Thermal Hydrolysis Plant (THP) at Minworth sewage treatment works. The pilot delivered substantial cost savings and enabled more effective remote working through condition monitoring. As a result, a new maintenance regime has been developed at the £60million plant utilising 8power’s “Fit & Forget” technology. The system monitors asset health and usage to flag anomalies or changing trends enabling a more proactive maintenance approach. During the pilot, 8power’s system identified an asset that had random impact forces enabling Severn Trent Water to remedy the situation and save thousands of pounds.
Said Alan Butcher, Strategic Maintenance Manager of Severn Trent’s Bioresources team,
“Working with 8power and Severn Trent Innovation team we have been monitoring the health of a few of our critical assets. Looking at the data, we had found one of our assets had random impact forces. If this had been a fault with the asset, the impacts would always be present.
So this triggered a question. What is going on? The 8power system identified an issue with the pin and the pump housing. The fault was rectified instantly and a plan to replace the damaged housing in the March shutdown is in place. If we had not detected the problem, the assets would have destroyed itself without any indication. A great find and a huge costly maintenance plan of £462,000 avoided.”
Remote working, lower costs and energy saving
The 8power end to end system comprises sensors that deliver data to the cloud that can then be integrated with existing software systems. Data can be delivered directly to mobile devices via an app or to desktop computers.
A unique feature of 8power sensors is the use of vibration energy harvesting (VEH). When attached to an asset the vibration of operation is converted into electrical power and charges a small onboard battery. This renewable energy source powers the sensors & wireless system and eliminates sensor battery changes for up to 10 years.
It is therefore much cleaner and greener than other sensor systems and will also help water companies to mitigate the costs and risk of unplanned maintenance. The system gives peace of mind as it can detect small and early changes in vibration, temperature and humidity, delivering data insights to enable companies to help prioritise maintenance issues across the estate of assets. Other benefits include reducing downtime and repair costs as well as increasing network resilience and asset availability to meet regulatory targets for Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI) payments.
The data obtained during the Severn Trent pilot evidenced hard financial benefits of using a ‘fit and forget’ style proactive condition monitoring approach. Given this, the Bioresources team are now reviewing potential larger deployments based on criticality and asset health registers. Additionally, following successful trial results, the Severn Trent Innovation team is now also collaborating with other areas of the business to review potential deployment on various asset classes.
Another benefit of effective remote working through remote condition monitoring is that water companies can save money and carbon footprint. As staff are not driving to sites the number of diesel miles is reduced.
Said Paul Egan, CEO of 8power:
“Our Fit & Forget remote condition monitoring solution helps our customers to be more effective and targeted in terms of maintenance schedules than they were prior to COVID-19. We are supporting our customers to protect their workforce, save carbon footprint and enable effective remote working, whilst reducing costs and downtime. The industry is seeing that remote is the new normal.”