Global pump manufacturers are focused on the manufacture of energy-efficient pumps. Energy cost accounts for 45% of the total lifecycle cost of a pump. However, manufacturers and end users are equally challenged by maintenance and downtime cost, which accounts for 25-30% of the total lifecycle cost. Pump maintenance has evolved from time and condition-based maintenance to predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance captures the data generated by equipment sensors, facilitates data communication between devices through Internet-based connectivity, uses algorithms to identify anomalies in operation, and predicts asset failure. It has also been able to reduce maintenance and downtime by identifying expected failures, breakdowns, and other operational risks. However, it is limited to only finding the expected anomalies and fails to provide solutions for the same. With the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), pump manufacturers will be able to employ IIoT technologies such as cognitive machine learning, cloud computing, and real-time data analytics to improve the lifespan of pumps, which offers an opportunity for a new efficient maintenance process known as prescriptive maintenance.
What is Prescriptive Maintenance?
Prescriptive maintenance is a maintenance process that involves the continuous monitoring and identification of asset failure with the use of cognitive analytics and IIoT tools; it also provides solutions as an option to the end user. Unlike predictive maintenance, prescriptive maintenance is not limited to merely predicting the failure – it is a strategic maintenance process that allows for the application of the solution, as and when it is needed. For instance, if adequate liquid is not delivered by the pump, prescriptive maintenance will not only be able to indicate cause of failure as insufficient Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) but will also be able to provide data on how much the suction pipe has to be resized to sufficiently increase the positive suction head on the pump.
Benefits of Prescriptive Maintenance:
Prescriptive maintenance offers the following advantages for pump end users:
- Ability to Make Coherent Decisions from Real-time Data Analysis: As manufacturers converge toward IIoT by adopting the latest sensor technology, cloud storage, and faster connectivity, with the aid of sensors, computers, smart devices, and routers, the amount of operation-related data generated will act as a significant challenge for end users. The data scientists and the specialists employed by end users must be able to make coherent decisions from the large amounts of real-time data generated (most of which expires without any use). Prescriptive maintenance helps analyze the data generated, identifies the cause of expected failure, and provides different outcome-based solutions.
- Improved Asset Performance by the Addition of Economic Value and Reduction of Downtime: Prescriptive maintenance is capable of detecting an anomaly in pump operation and analyzing the cause from the real-time data generated. Post analysis, it provides the user with various solutions and their respective success rates. The end user has to evaluate the parameter’s success rate and the cost involved to make a cost-effective decision. For instance, for a defective impeller failure, prescriptive maintenance is able to provide success rates if the entire impeller is replaced or if the end user repairs just the eroded vanes. Further, prescriptive maintenance helps to substantially reduce downtime. For instance, to repair an overheated component, it provides details about the duration of the repair and the lifespan post the repair. This helps users decide whether they want to repair the component or replace it with a new one, thereby reducing downtime with a time-efficient decision.
Potential Challenges to the Adoption of Prescriptive Maintenance by the Pumps Market
Prescriptive maintenance offers benefits that will not only reduce downtime and maintenance cost but will also optimize pump operation. With its ability to continuously monitor a pump’s function in real-time, detect an anomaly, and be able to provide a solution in case of failure, prescriptive maintenance can help to avoid catastrophic failure and result in substantial operational savings for the end user. However, potential deterrents exist in terms of implementation.
Listed below are a few barriers to the adoption of prescriptive maintenance:
Varied Levels of Technological Adoption
- In addition to the lack of infrastructure and knowledge and the high costs, adoption depends on the end-use application. Pump end users such as oil and gas, chemicals, water and wastewater, and power generation see varying levels of technology adoption. For instance, a system revamp in the power generation industry, which uses high-temperature and pressure-resistant pumps such as large turbine feed pumps and condensate pumps, will be a challenging task when compared to the installation of smart pumps used to boost pressure in the building services industry. In addition, pump lifespan acts as a deterrent to the adoption of prescriptive maintenance. For example, above-ground pumps such as jet pumps have a lifespan of ~12-15 years; on the other hand, the average lifespan of a submersible pump that is used in high-sediment water and lacks proper maintenance is ~3-5 years. It is easier to provide technological upgrades to pumps used in the water and wastewater industry when compared to pumps used in oil and gas.
Downside of IIoT Technologies
- Concerns related to the abuse of proprietary information, data, and designs, along with vulnerable cyber security arrangements, will continue to act as restraints to the adoption of prescriptive maintenance by pump end users.
The increased application of IIoT technologies has helped pump manufacturers embed functionality and features into pumps, which supports the employment of prescriptive maintenance. The production of intelligent pumps that are equipped with sensors, controllers, and feedback diagnostic devices is on the rise. Temperature sensors, pressure sensors, and vibration sensors, along with analysis and display units, will help end users implement prescriptive maintenance with ease.
End-user industries such as oil and gas, water and wastewater, and power generation, among others, employ IIoT technologies to improve operational efficiency. For instance, the power generation industry makes use of smart meters, smart grids, and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for the automation, distribution, and monitoring of energy consumed. Similarly, the oil and gas industry has created digital oilfields (by utilizing IIoT technologies) for optimized oil production from reservoirs. The deployment of IIoT technologies for operational efficiency and the surge in the production of IIoT-compatible smart pumps will enable the higher adoption of prescriptive maintenance. With its ability to predict a failure and prescribe a solution, prescriptive maintenance will substantially improve the efficiency of asset management and reduce downtime and maintenance cost.