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What happens when machines are treated as individuals?

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Global Client Reference Manager, IBM

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With 2015 now in the rearview mirror, what’s in store for the offshore oil and gas industry in 2016 following one of the worst declines in more than a decade? In a recent report from Douglas-Westwood, the offshore oil and gas market was characterized as having much to address before a full recovery gets underway.

Given growth in supply, decline in rig rates and new drilling at its lowest point in the last few years, current oil price levels are not sustainable. The belief is that a recovery will begin toward the end of 2016. Offshore oil and gas producers are leaning heavily on suppliers to stem the tide until a recovery truly is underway.

Self-reflection

One main supplier of special grades of stainless steel for the offshore oil and gas industry took a good look at itself and discovered that it could help its offshore oil and gas clients. Outokumpu, a global leader in stainless steel, determined it could address how the supplier itself manages its own machine maintenance. Outokumpu delivers a product that can withstand corrosive saltwater and extreme weather conditions through its very precise control of production processes.

While Outokumpu had been using IBM Maximo Asset Management software to organize its maintenance processes for more than 20 years, proactive maintenance planning was not at the forefront of those processes. A presentation by Enfo Framsteg, an IBM Business Partner and asset management specialist, about how to redesign maintenance processes at a machine level around a concept of continuous measurement and improvement changed the way Outokumpu thought about asset management. The business disruption led the stainless steel producer to gain insight into its production-line machines at a level of sophistication that was never before possible.

Monthly operational reports showed that redesigned maintenance processes centered on the concept of continuous measurement and improvement at a machine level enabled machine availability to rise measurably since the project started. In addition, performance was trending in an upward direction, which offers vindication of the company’s continuous improvement philosophy.

The company now leverages total cost of ownership that factors in maintenance expenses tied to mill machines for future purchasing decisions. Whether through spare parts inventory or new machinery purchases, the insight now available to Outokumpu allows the company to make the well-suited selections when choosing replacement equipment to achieve its goals of quality, efficiency, availability and safety.

Stark reality

While any approach to moving from reactive to proactive maintenance has logistical elements that need thorough vetting in advance, cost-cutting and efficiency improvement initiatives in maintenance departments are realities with the potential to make or break an enterprise. Depending on the size of the organization and its maintenance needs, the effects could amount to millions of dollars in annual savings for maintenance. Those effects can even be shared with clients, helping extend the relationships they have with customers.

Learn more about how Outokumpu and IBM Business Partner Enfo Framsteg leveraged advanced analytics to successfully shift from reactive to proactive maintenance planning.