At Fluke, when we talk about what we do, we try to make it people-centered.
Before we launch a product, an estimated 800 hours are put into ethnographic research, collecting the usability and ergonomic requirements that the tools and software ar
e eventually designed around. Our work is centered on simplifying complex expert workflows, making people’s professional lives safer, easier, more enjoyable and productive.
That’s why when we look inside a refinery or a power plant or other large industrial facility we see a process with multiple expensive machines, as well as the people who buy them, operate them, maintain them—as well as the consumers who use the products those machines produce.
These days, the expensive critical machinery at a plant is all sensored-up so plant operators stay continuously aware of how that equipment is running. The operators have alarms in case things go awry and numerous data points to assess the condition of the machines.
It makes good business sense to have data that shows if the equipment is deteriorating, so that it can be fixed before it fails. And it makes good sense to increase the lifespan of critical equipment not only for cap-ex but because the people onsite are already familiar with the components and how to maintain them.
Now take a step down from those Tier One critical assets to the Tier Two “important” assets in the same plant. You’re still looking at equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it’s still important to the process, just not important enough to justify the expense of retrofitting with sensors. That means the firm is often virtually in the dark about what condition its “important” equipment is in.
Giving people insight into machine health beyond the highly monitored equipment has become somewhat of an obsession with us. We want to make it easier for people to gather information about machine conditions, and to be able to store that information in a secure place so it can be widely shared.
Fluke Condition Monitoring is a portable wireless system that gives people insight into equipment conditions for extended periods of time. The sensor modules, each of which is designed to be installed without retrofitting, send continuous measurement data through a gateway to the cloud. The idea is to leverage existing staff and skill sets with easy-to-install setups while still gaining insight into a second tier of machinery 24 hours a day.
By collecting key-indicator data on important equipment, teams can build a real-time picture of an asset’s condition and order repairs as needed. The right data can also be tracked over time to prevent unplanned downtime and optimize the lifespan of expensive equipment.
That’s how Fluke, a manufacturer of test tools, became such a strong advocate of condition based maintenance (CBM). Government researchers estimate CBM solutions bring 10 times the return on investment, a reduction in downtime of at least 35 percent and an increase in production of 20-25 percent.
Our suggestion is to pair wireless data collectors—test tools and sensors—people already know how to use with the kind of out-of-the-box cloud software found in Fluke Connect.
It has to be easy-to-use and secure, without retrofits or specialized labor, in order to truly remove barriers. The modular approach lets managers adopt inspection and monitoring technologies according to their highest need and at whatever scale make sense. But the SaaS platform is the lynchpin; you have to centrally collate data from multiple people, tools, sensors and locations. No more data silos.
The aim is to allow people across the enterprise to stay on top of the company’s valuable assets and make for a more manageable work life. Of course, that goes along with maximizing return on investment, improving asset utilization and having a more effective reliability program. But at the end of the day, at Fluke, we’re looking at how technology fundamentally serves a need for people.