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Connected reliability is the new must-have for maintenance

May 18, 2020

Inspiring stories of resilience and productivity in a time of crisis.

We’re all working to safely get through the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of life is tragic, and we’re learning a lot about the human spirit. We’re also gaining many insights related to our own businesses.

Fluke's Ankush Malhotra

One big takeaway we have discovered is that connected technology will play a stronger-than-ever role in the evolution of maintenance and reliability as we go forward. We never doubted this, but leading into 2020 the urgency for connecting asset data to maintenance workflows in many industries did not always seem high.

But change is what this pandemic has necessitated. Many industrial companies have required any employee who could work offsite to do so. This often has meant their maintenance teams were divided–a skeleton crew working at the plant to maintain assets (practicing social distancing), and others working remotely to perform tasks such as scheduling work orders, managing inventories, and (if they had the capabilities) monitoring asset condition. 

Not every company, of course, has the technology necessary to do remote monitoring.

The ability of offsite team members to actively assist those working at the plant depends on how far along their organization is on what we call the “connected reliability” journey. Those companies with a cloud-based computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) have more visibility into daily asset-management operations and a greater ability to assist with them.

Others are further along in their journey, implementing cloud-based condition-monitoring sensors to track asset health. And still others utilize adaptive machinery-alignment systems equipped to provide cloud-based collaboration. In every case, this connectedness enables remote maintenance workers to meaningfully contribute to the work being done by their onsite colleagues.

Inspiring stories of resilience and productivity

As the pandemic has unfolded, we’ve seen and heard many inspiring stories from our customers, highlighting their ability to keep their plants operating and fulfill their mission because they now have a connected infrastructure–something that was a pipedream only a few years ago.

Interest is high for maintenance technologies such as CMMS software, sensors and other cloud-based, IIoT components, which empower people to be productive outside the plant through remote monitoring and other offsite maintenance activities. It has us working hard on new remote maintenance innovations that our customers demand.

We’ve also been working to adapt our service and support approach to this new normal, identifying more ways to support customers with split teams or most members working away from the plant. For example, like some other companies in our space, we have expanded our offering of online training courses and webinars to help maintenance pros keep their skills sharp and stay current on industry trends.

Few, if any, maintenance-technology providers will profit from this disaster. We’re all likely to be feeling the downturn. But there is some validation of our long-held belief that many maintenance tasks can be efficiently performed offsite. And that connected reliability can effectively make maintenance a business-value engine for companies, not just another a cost center, even in a crisis.

Ankush Malhotra is vice president and general manager of Fluke Reliability, a division of the Fluke Corporation