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Avoiding unplanned shutdowns

Posted November 11th 2010

I was at a large factory in the Midwest recently.  It was a state of the art factory, set up by engineers for engineers.  They have 6 cells, or large wings, in this particular building where they do testing of big engines.  I was amazed when I was told that there are, on average, 2 cells down per week mostly due to the fact that they run out of gas without knowing it.  This one building alone has over 1,000 gas cylinders spread out throughout all 6 cells and uses up about 150 cylinders a week.  They have two people who walk around throughout the day shift just to monitor all the cylinders and are planning on hiring a third person for the second shift.

Because they’re engineers, they’ve looked at automating all this stuff before.  What they found is that the transducer itself was inexpensive, but the installation cost and the project management cost were prohibitive.   They would have to shut down operation, run wires, get drawings approved, do leak checks …  It would be just too invasive and too much work.

I talked to the engineers at this factory about our Wireless Gauge Reader, which is an electronic eyeball that is clamped on to an existing gauge.  It takes an optical reading of the gauge and sends the reading wirelessly to a gateway that is connected to the customer’s network.  It takes minutes to install without the need to shut down equipment or run wires.  The customer can access data from his work station or his home, set alarms and get updates every hour or every minute for trending and troubleshooting.  Payback is 18 months or less.  The exact quote from one of the engineers was: ”… this is so simple, it has to work…”

Bien Irace