All facilities equipment fails eventually. Electrical, heating, ventilation and cooling systems involve a multitude of equipment types, including machines with dozens of components that can malfunction at any time. Is it a disaster if one minor component fails? What if the failure of that component triggers a cascade of problems leading to a total shutdown? For a life sciences facility, the event can be devastating.
Even with strong preventative maintenance protocols inplace, this nightmare can become a reality. Traditional maintenance programs don’t address the very real risk of total building system failure. Delivering the highest standard of reliability requires a planned maintenance optimization (PMO) strategy.
PMO is a new approach to facilities maintenance and is based on equipment usage rather than on the fixed calendar schedule. The core concept is analogous to changing the oil in a car every 3,000 miles rather than every month.
The domino effect
Even a single undetected component failure can create the domino effect that leads to a shutdown. A faulty temperature gauge can cause a cooling fan to stop running, which, in turn, overheats a piece of equipmentthat, when it fails, makes other equipment overwork to compensate and ultimately fail, causing a breakdown of the entire building operating system.
To help protect against this domino effect, most facility managers adopt a standard preventative maintenance schedule. Preventative maintenance involves periodic inspections, testing and cleaning, and replacing equipment when it gets close to the end of its useful life—whether or not it shows signs of wear.
Although preventative maintenance can help, these programs alone do not catch all problems. Some components will fail sooner than expected, while others may outlast their anticipated lifespans. A calendar-based program carries the added expense of premature equipment replacement, and does not eliminate the risk of a critical component failing ahead of schedule.
Planned maintenance optimization (PMO)
For laboratories, R&D buildings and other life science facilities requiring 100% uptime with minimum risk of failure, the answer is planned maintenance optimization (PMO), an advanced form of predictive maintenance.
With PMO, sophisticated technologies are used to monitor equipment for signs of wear while the equipment is running. Equipment is replaced when it shows signs of stress, regardless of the average lifespan for that type of machine.
Equipment can be monitored in several ways, but the three techniques that are most useful to life science companies are thermography (infrared scanning), tribology (analysis of oil and other lubricants) and vibration analysis. With these three techniques, along with analytics to recognize performance anomalies, PMO can reduce the risk of failure to nearly zero, preventing the dreaded domino effect.
PMO systems not only improve facility reliability, but also can reduce costs through more efficient facility staff and less-frequent equipment replacement. Plus, when all equipment is working properly, no component is required to work harder to compensate for faulty equipment elsewhere. Cascading failures become a thing of the past.
At its most basic, PMO determines the optimum set of maintenance tasks to be performed on systems and equipment, and documents the basis for each task. PMO balances maintenance requirements with regulatory, economic and technical requirements so that people, parts, consumable equipment and facilities are utilized properly, safely and at full efficiency. This holistic, living process identifies adverse failure trends, conducts root-cause analysis of failure events, reports maintenance feedback, conducts predictive analyses, monitors system performance, predicts trends and introduces equipment design modifications.
The result is a maintenance regime that’s not only optimized for high reliability and low cost, but also enables continuous improvement over time. The newest systems can even send an automatic email alert to the facility manager when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced.
Quick payback of implementation cost
The payoff of a PMO program is substantial. In addition to improvements in system availability (uptime), equipment reliability and system safety, overall maintenance costs are reduced by an industry average of 25%—saving an average midsized life sciences organization $20 million annually. Some of the world’s leading life sciences organizations are already realizing the direct and indirect benefits of PMO, experiencing a payback period of one to two years, not counting the value of reduced shutdown risk.
Although PMO is new to life sciences facilities management, it isn’t a brand-new concept. The monitoring techniques and analytics have been used since the early 1990s in the nuclear power industry—where the consequences of a plant shutdown are even more serious than in life sciences. But, untilfairly recently, the cost of installing monitors on all equipment was prohibitive for most organizations.
Wireless technology has made the installation of monitoring devices easier and more affordable. In addition, system analytics have improved over time, in part because the advent of smart building systems has helped to create broader market awareness and acceptance.
Without a maintenance optimization strategy, the safety, operational efficiency, and profitability of life sciences facilities may be at risk. PMO avoids worst-case scenarios while improving the bottom line.
Dick Auger is Vice President, cGxP Center of Excellence for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Life Sciences practice in Chicago, Ill.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery