Industry Outlook: Maintaining Current Assets

EP Editorial Staff | August 16, 2010

0810outlook9As demand for a cleaner, smarter and more-efficient planet increases, the need for a holistic solution to address growing energy demand, fuel costs and limited capital is more crucial than ever. That’s why GE Energy is making big investments in technologies to deal with these challenges in creative, efficient and sustainable ways.

Industries everywhere are assessing their position in the economic recovery. Countless companies are looking for new ways to address old challenges by proceeding cautiously with capital spending. For instance, when it comes to critical equipment in plants, many managers conclude that it’s more fiscally sound to maintain current assets than invest in new ones.

In order to care for those assets for a longer period of time, companies should keep in mind that the most efficient maintenance strategies are based on predictive plans—not reactive ones. Predicting potential problems and activating timely solutions protect bottom lines far better than reacting to breakdowns. For example, unscheduled downtime due to broken or malfunctioning equipment or assets can cost a business thousands of dollars, aside from possible safety issues.

Another way to look at predictive maintenance programs is to compare them to human health care: Just as a person partners with a physician to increase life span, plant managers who have a proper predictive maintenance program with a properly qualified partner can maximize the value of their assets.

As one can see, developing proactive maintenance programs that ensure safe, profitable and reliable operations has become a crucial concern for operations around the globe. GE Energy’s Measurement and Control Solutions business provides industries of all kinds with the expertise and tools necessary to effectively monitor, measure and test critical equipment—even when that equipment is located in remote and, sometimes, harsh locations. Wind power is a case in point.

Working with our customers in the wind-power industry, we realized that gathering data and distilling it into manageable, actionable formats for preventive maintenance can be a huge undertaking. The wind-power boom began before the economic crisis, thus a massive fleet of wind turbines is now coming off manufacturer warranty. Recognizing that many wind-asset owners would be facing this issue, GE developed the Advanced Distributed Architecture Platform Technology (ADAPT™.wind) solution.

ADAPT.wind allows operators to plan for maintenance and coordinate outages for closely clustered units. With tools like these, wind-farm operators can monitor their assets remotely, understand the severity of defects, make corrections and continue to generate revenue if the problem is insignificant. This, however, is just one example of a solution GE has created to help its customers capitalize on assets and shift mindsets from a reactive approach to maintenance to a predictive strategy. While the shifting of mindsets doesn’t happen overnight, it helps alleviate many burdens associated with unplanned downtime and improve reliability.

Providing predictive maintenance solutions requires an understanding of customers’ unique needs and challenges. The right partner will help companies operate cleaner, smarter and more efficiently in a world where reliability and financial security are challenged by shrinking resources, fewer expenditures and more attention to sustainable solutions.

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