It centralizes the information of the equipment’s state to optimize the availability of the lines. A project of industry 4.0 that positions Ternium as a pioneer in the topic and which has already taken the first steps in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
Every process that takes place in the plant matters, in most of their equipment, with field systems dedicated exclusively to controlling the condition and proper functioning. “For instance, there are sensors that measure vibration in engines and pumps and temperature and flow. In the past, those systems measured all these variables and provoked isolated alerts which didn’t provide complete knowledge on the state of the equipment,” mentions Facundo Bellesi, responsible for Maintenance Engineering.
With the creation of this new technological platform, the follow-up of the state of the equipment concentrates in one place, integrating the alerts, and making them accessible, prioritized, and easily interpreted, with the complementary information (variables, team history, previous events, remediation actions, etcetera). The objective? Ensure that each relevant alert has an adequate analysis and treatment. “It can be observed where the alert came from and gives notice to everyone involved, so they’re attentive. Besides, it allows us to see if there are related alerts to solve them conjunctly,” points out Bellesi.
In other words, we take advantage of this technology to “improve predictive maintenance,” exposes Fabián Tedesco, Maintenance Service Director. “Being predictive involves verifying the condition and predicting incipient failure. The central’s goal is to have a dedicated area to process each failure alert integrally and effectively,” he highlights.
The Maintenance Central is in a strategic location. In the same building work technologists that, according to the specialty of the alert (electronics, electrical, mechanical), provide support to the equipment and the local maintenance referents in each of the plants of Ternium Argentina.
“The Central is the equivalent to an information pulpit. Currently, we have more than 600 rules to generate alerts that are already functional. They go through an analysis and prioritization system that determines the actions to take,” pointed out Tedesco.
A total of eight monitors, known as Videowall, conform the hall of the Central. Four of them are focused on integral monitoring by plant/line of the critical alerts, based on a platform developed by IT called APM (Assets Performance Management). The other four monitors are used to see the details of the most critical alerts systems in the plant, for instance, Orion, which guarantees the proper function of the communication networks, the railway that allows transporting –with the trains– the raw material; as well as the electric distribution that supplies energy to the equipment, among others.
Mauro Arioli, IT Project Leader, details: “We’ve been working with APM for some time. This is our great concept because we included in the platform a few applications focused on covering the maintenance needs of the team: standards and maintenance plans, failure analysis, failure prediction, and maintenance plans, and now the Monitoring Central.” And he adds: “It’s like Google that has Gmail, Drive, Meet, Calendar: an application ecosystem that integrates all projects in the area.”
For optimal functioning of the platform, it’s fundamental to be attentive to the Maintenance area's needs. Sofía Gentile, IT Development Analyst, part of the IT team that develops APM, says: “Along with Maya Burgués, we work with the Maintenance area to create content operable from the Central and for the continuity of the project as new requirements or requests are identified. This is why we’re always ready to plan the next activities.”
Towards a paradigm shift
The initiative includes the productive centers of Brazil and Mexico: “Brazil is in the same situation as Argentina, with a focus on activity. In Mexico, they’re finishing incorporating part of the hardware for the central,” summarizes Arioli. “This technological platform allows us to integrate and combine the equipment status and alerts on the predictive analytics system (already running in the main lines). Additionally, APM facilitates the homologation of procedures and actions in the different areas of the company,” comments Jorgelina Wirsch, IT Industrial & Quality Senior Manager from Argentina.
Bellesi adds: “We’re in contact with the referents of each country. We have a weekly meeting to review the issues and share experiences, problems, and solutions.” This digital transformation represents a new conception of maintenance, comments Tedesco. “It’s based on world-class maintenance and positions the company as a referent in the steel industry. Previously, maintenance depended on production and process. Now the focus is on the failure of the equipment. The production line doesn’t have to stop to find a failure, and we can fix it without interrupting the process,” exposed Bellesi. Gentile complements: “The more information you have about the health of your equipment, the better you position yourself to manage a future failure. Having a Central that works without interruption focalizes and improves the job.” The horizon is clear: align with the precepts of industry 4.0. “We seek to accomplish what is called smart factories, where the processes and systems are more secure and efficient,” affirms Tedesco.
Arioli concludes: “Beginning with IT, our goal is to incorporate new sensors in the equipment, new sources of information, early alerts, and predictive models. The idea is to predict what equipment will fail, when, and how, but also to know which appropriate actions to take. We would evolve from predictive maintenance to a prescriptive one, understood as a technique that allows detecting a failure with plenty of time in advance and prescribes a solution to mitigate or correct the anomaly. The Central is a crucial step, but not the last one in the digital transformation process,” says Arioli.