This often is overlooked as part of a company's asset management practice — indeed measurement of energy efficiency is one of the best-kept secrets about predicting failure. Energy consumption actually can indicate, far in advance of a failure, a problem is developing. Consider the example provided earlier of the complex nature of identifying the cause of a change in pressure in the flow of liquid from one tank to another. By monitoring energy usage of each asset, you can tell which asset is either drawing too little or too much energy and start your inspections there.
As an added benefit, asset sustainability — the combination of asset and energy-demand management in one system — has been shown to lower energy consumption by up to 20% across an operation or facility. By measuring consumption across each asset, you can identify equipment drawing more power than the manufacturer specified. The alert generated starts a chain reaction to determine why the asset isn't performing at its optimum and correct it.
To relate this to actual costs, consider a single 100-hp motor running continuously at 95% efficiency for five years. The motor should consume approximately $350,000 in energy (at 10¢/kWh). If the same motor develops a minor problem, not detected by traditional inspections and monitoring, and consumes just 5% more energy, it will cost almost $17,500 more to operate.
The problem is pervasive. Most plants incur significant added expenses by continuing to operate assets whose energy consumption has increased.
When integrated with an asset management system, alerts can trigger when energy consumption or efficiency reaches a predetermined threshold for each asset and can issue a work order for inspection. In some cases, the energy consumption indicator can serve as warning signal for a larger issue that could impact production if not caught early enough.
For chemical processors, failure isn't an option. It costs too much. Capital assets and operational efficiency dictate economic return and determine success. Today's asset management involves more than balancing asset performance and longevity. Companies must employ predictive maintenance techniques on their most strategic assets. In addition, they must consider energy efficiency to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate unplanned downtime and reduce operational costs.
John Murphy is director of solution marketing, EAM, for Infor, Alpharetta, Ga. E-mail him at John.Murphy@infor.com.