Sensitive Inspection as a maintenance ally

May 12, 2023

Technology increasingly helps sensitive inspection to improve the working conditions of people in the field, optimizing the execution of their tasks.

In asset management, sensitive inspection, as part of the activities in the maintenance routes, plays an important role because it preserves and secures the asset’s function.

Moreover, when combined with predictive and/or prescriptive maintenance, it is a powerful tool for multi-parameter analysis.

The sensitive inspection is one of the most used techniques in predictive maintenance strategies.

It can be understood, within the maintenance area, as the technique of using the senses to capture information regarding the physical integrity of industrial equipment, with the aim of diagnosing potential failures.

Even using a clipboard and paper, sensing is extremely important for the execution of data collection in the field. Its main focus is in the search for identifying anomalous situations.

These are numerous and vary from equipment to equipment, for example, anomalies in noise, temperature, vibration, existence of leaks, backlash, misalignment, wear, and situations related to the safety of people and the environment.

The industries need a qualified team, knowledgeable in practice and in theory of the behavior of their equipment.

It is necessary that even small observations are noted for a good result of the sensitive inspection, being fundamental the detailed elaboration of the routes, using forms and defining the type of inspection to be made and the points to be inspected for each type of equipment.

In most cases, sensitive inspection aims to feed engineering or maintenance planning with this information, which is usually used for early stage failure detection.

As human perception can fail, it is important to combine the sensitive information with other measuring instruments such as vibration analyzers, thermography, ultrasound, etc.

The professional involved in the sensitive inspection process is expected to be aware of his mission within the company, and must be able to act according to the data he collects in the field and the technical standards applied.

He is responsible for operational safety, for the structural integrity of the equipment and facilities of the industries where he works, promoting the continuity of the operation.

At first, the equipment inspection technician must be one of the most capable in the maintenance team, needing to be, among other qualities, an observant professional, with technical curiosity, methodical and organized in relation to inspection planning, to have a technical support for his decision making, to be demanding with regard to the quality of equipment and maintenance, very attentive, conscientious and, above all, responsible.

When it comes to sensitive skills, the inspector’s experience to perform his work becomes crucial.

In addition, the professionals selected to act as inspectors must be continuously trained, especially when the inspection items or even the route is reviewed and adjusted.

It basically consists of the periodic and sequential verification of the condition of components of certain machinery, within the premises of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), which must respect the mechanical or electrical nature of the verification.

Better if it is done in a sensitive and predictive way.

In developing the inspection routes it is necessary to be clear that this type of task does not perform specific maintenance activities, such as replacement or repair.

But inspections seeking to identify possible indications of failure, so that corrective actions can be planned and executed, keeping the production system operational.

The elaboration of a route plan aims to systematize the sensitive inspection tasks that must be performed:

in equipment, considering its criticality;
in specific points to be inspected
in a determined periodicity;
determining who is responsible for the task.
For this, we seek the creation of a form with the use of checklists or checklists of what needs to be inspected, aiming to cover all equipment.

The creation of topics such as the name of the equipment and/or installation, the date of the inspection, the items to be checked, preferably with the compliance criteria to be verified, and the field for noting potential problems, which should later be treated by maintenance.

Designing maintenance routes and performing the inspection efficiently will help to:

identify failures before they happen, decreasing spending on corrective and preventive maintenance;
avoid unscheduled production stops;
obtain more efficient exchange of spare parts, prolonging the useful life of the assets;
increase the availability and reliability of the machinery;
reduce safety risks for employees.

Traditionally, the use of spreadsheets for notes and field records are the means of recording the information obtained, but online and offline systems are already emerging.

The main idea is that the use of checklists makes the inspections have a standardized execution criterion.

Without a checklist, whether physical or digital, sensitive inspection becomes a very personal process for each inspector, which is why the definition of the checklist as a standard that can be controlled and improved is important.

Paper accepts everything, even the record of a missed inspection. Doubt, or have you ever had an experience that, at the very least, left you in doubt?

The information must reach the maintenance planning as soon as possible.

Thus, the internal routines can be triggered, opening a work order with the details of the maintenance intervention.

And, also, the manpower can be scheduled and eventual downtime can be negotiated with the operation team to have the lowest possible impact on production.

One of the most promising tools for improving indicators in the area is Machine Learning, an artificial intelligence technique capable of correlating various data, analyzing them and learning to interpret patterns, deciding what action to take for each situation found.

To this end, the qualitative information generated by means of sensitive inspection by those who are in the field daily in contact with the machines is indispensable to assist this learning process.

For example, by analyzing the data measured in the predictive inspection, the Machine Learning algorithm can learn the typical behaviors of the vibration and temperature levels of a rolling element bearing over time.

Fed by periodic information from the sensitive inspection, the algorithm learns to associate advanced defect situations, identifiable in the field, with vibration and temperature rise above certain levels.

Thus, with experience, the algorithm begins to identify vibration and temperature trends that indicate a developing defect, predicting when advanced-stage defect levels will be reached and helping to decide when a maintenance shutdown should be performed on this bearing.

The defect detection algorithms can be fed by observations, events, information from corrective maintenance performed (e.g. grease addition), also coming from the sensitive inspection.

The way this information is available becomes relevant for the diagnosis or conclusion of the algorithms.

In the last stage of sophistication and system integration, the sensitive also allows to validate the pertinence of the algorithms in the field, because once the prescribed intervention is performed within the quality standards, the diagnosis should normalize.

Therefore, it is a tool that can quickly analyze the large amount of data generated in the Maintenance Engineering of the current industry, finding patterns difficult to be identified by human analysis and influencing decisions that impact the reliability of assets involved in the production process.

Therefore, in the wake of relevant solutions for the industry, which help it improve its internal processes and gain productivity through the use of technology, Dynamox delivers to the market its version of Route Inspection System, called, DynaSens.

This tool is available for those who simply want to structure their sensitive inspection process and also for those who want to complement and cross-reference the systemic predictive maintenance information (fixed sensor collection, continuous or periodic).

That’s where the concept of Integrated Inspection arises, where the sensitive and the continuous predictive complement each other directly, allowing a greater pertinence in the analysis.

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