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Use Remote Monitoring To Promote Safety

EP Editorial Staff | June 1, 2022

Industries with more advanced predictive-maintenance practices can leverage remote condition monitoring even with staff working from home.

Remote work used to be largely seen as a perk, but the pandemic has made it a norm.

Studies now suggest that most of the workforce will work remotely at least several days a month in the coming years. During the pandemic, nearly 60% of maintenance teams operated with skeleton crews on site or primarily doing remote work, according to Fluke Reliability surveys. Many maintenance teams said they didn’t have the kinds of connected reliability tools needed to effectively keep machines and equipment in peak condition. Industries with more advanced predictive-maintenance practices, such as energy generation and water supply, could leverage remote condition monitoring even with staff working from home.

Safety concerns during a novel pandemic are different from standard workplace safety issues. Social distancing may not be around for the long haul, but some of the other changes brought about by increased workplace safety will. Even after the pandemic recedes, the risks of working in hazardous environments aren’t going away. 

Andreas Ogrzewalla, a managing director of Pruftechnik, part of Fluke Reliability (Fluke Corp., Everett, WA, fluke.com), and Jose Zarate Ramirez, a sales engineer with the company, provide direction on using remote monitoring while considering changing protocols.

• Remote work is becoming more effective thanks to the continued expansion of Industrial Internet of Things tools and capabilities. As a result of advances in this IIoT technology and the necessity of adapting to COVID-19, many workplaces have been forced to reconsider where and how they work. Some 80% of organizations are in the process of deciding how, where, and when to use remote condition monitoring to drive their maintenance activity. 

• Remote condition monitoring helps alleviate risks by decreasing route-based maintenance. As a result, technicians need to spend less time in high, hard-to-reach, enclosed, or hazardous spaces. Even just the task of reaching such spaces can be dangerous for workers and leads to a number of workplace injuries every year. 

• The pandemic made it clear that 24/7 monitoring with sensors and cloud-based software helps maintain assets while improving workplace safety. Today, remote condition monitoring doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. The right combination of solutions and expertise can help teams struggling with starting up, sustaining, or expanding remote condition-monitoring programs.

• The more equipment you’re monitoring in real time, the less time your team will spend in a reactive mode. Reactive emergency repairs carried out after failure occurs are riskier for workers than planned maintenance actions. Emergency repairs are done with urgency and under pressure, rather than careful planning. In some cases, they must be done when the equipment itself poses a risk. Preventing failures and unplanned downtime keeps workers safer.

• New technology reaches a tipping point when a population embraces a need and trusts the technology to do what it’s supposed to do. It can be difficult to get funding for such initiatives before this point. What was once seen as an optional solution, or something to consider down the road, can now obviously help today. The pandemic has demonstrated that remote condition-monitoring technology is already essential. EP

For additional information, visit fluke.com.

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