01 Nov 2019
Owen Duckett and Emma Murowinski
Product Owner and Product Manager

The goal of any preventive maintenance program is to increase vessel uptime, reduce costs, and ultimately increase the reliability and availability of a fleet. These maintenance plans have traditionally relied on running hours or calendar days as effective measures for estimating wear on equipment and ensuring work is completed before equipment fails.

The industry is now changing, and progressive companies and manufacturers are shifting to better, more reliable and more accurate metrics for determining wear on equipment and preventing failures. These shifts are already well underway, with new approaches being enabled by fuel flow meters and other new technology, and are increasingly being used as part of preventive maintenance programs.

Most importantly, these changes are already having a massive effect on why and when companies carry out preventive maintenance, and our customers who have switched to incorporate these metrics have reported increased reliability and savings as high as millions of dollars per year for large fleets.

Want to take your maintenance to the next level? Meet Maintenance by Metric!

What is Maintenance by Metric?

Beyond calendar days and running hours, other metrics are often more accurate indicators of wear and tear on machinery, and therefore better indicators of the best time to perform preventive maintenance. Expanding your maintenance program to accommodate the most precise metric for different machinery will take your preventive maintenance to the next level, improving reliability and reducing costs.

Let’s buy a boat (a case study)

Let’s say you’re buying a new boat (lucky you!)  You have two nearly identical options: Boat A is eight years old and Boat B is 4 years old. Which one do you choose? With no other information on hand, you might pick Boat B because it’s younger.

But wait.

If we look at the history of the boats, we learn they both have 20,000 running hours on their engines. However, Boat A has mostly been hauling light loads for short distances while Boat B has been hauling large loads up and down the Mississippi River. Now which boat do you chose?  With the help of this additional information, you might now pick Boat A because, although it’s older, it has the same number of running hours and it’s been doing lighter work so we can anticipate less wear on its engine.

In the end, it was the degree of engine wear that helped us choose the right boat. Running hours alone weren’t enough, so what other metric could have helped us? In this case, fuel consumption might have been a much better metric because it would have indicated the workload each engine had experienced.

Maintenance by Metric in your preventive maintenance program

How much would your preventive maintenance program improve if you could use custom metrics to optimize your schedule and tailor it to the individual maintenance needs of various systems? Beyond fuel consumption, what other metrics could you use?  What about maintenance based on the number of tows or the length of a towline instead of on the number of hours spent towing? Or on the amount of oil added to a system? Or on the number of round trip voyages by a ferry? Or, what if you could descale your company’s coffee machine (a critical and essential system!) after a certain number of pots have been brewed?

And what does Helm CONNECT Maintenance have to do with this?

We have some pretty modern, innovative customers (like you!) who’ve been asking for the ability to schedule maintenance by fuel consumption. Working with you, we’ve seen and heard the incredible results possible, from delaying overhauls for lightly used assets, to preventing major failures by better aligning preventive maintenance work with the additional wear on the system.

Based on your feedback, we’ve now built that functionality into Helm CONNECT. In version 1.17, Maintenance by Metric will allow you to schedule your maintenance routines by the metric of your choosing. That’s right – any metric.

What are my next steps?

If you missed our training session at the Helm Conference in Nashville this year, check out this video for more details and click here to schedule a demo. We also have several articles about using Maintenance by Metric and implementing it in your maintenance program:

If you need some more horsepower, our Professional Services team can help with training, coaching, or data entry support so you can get up and running with maintenance by metric. Please contact your Account Manager for more information.

We’re here to help. Your success is our success!