By Ben Lawrence
I was standing in the hallway when the door burst open and a guy in a blue maintenance suit stumbled out and nearly fell to his knees. He was covered in sweat, as if he’d just crossed the Sahara Desert.
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” he replied.
Mr. Sweaty had just finished a job that’s both cutting edge and old school: route-based vibration monitoring. He’d taken what’s basically a fancy stethoscope and walked all around a high temperature manufacturing plant “listening” for unhealthy vibration readings on hundreds of machines.
It’s a cutting edge task because vibration monitoring is something that’s been around for only a few decades. It’s old school because the way he and most other maintenance professionals are forced to do it is needle-in-a-haystack inefficient. They’ll spend hours climbing all over factory equipment, listening to hundreds of machines in an effort to find the tiny percentage that are showing early signs of failure.
Talk about a new tech vs. old tech collision.
We live in interesting times where the old world and new world are colliding like never before. In India, I’ve seen office workers with smartphones riding donkeys to work. In China, I’ve seen 90-year-old women practicing Tai Chi in front of jumbo-screen Skype sessions. And in the USA, I’ve seen men with stethoscopes nearly collapse from heat exhaustion while next to them is a robot that builds an electric car.
2016 is the year I believe the USA’s leading manufacturing centers will leap into a new world. In 2016, the same “smarts” that brought Fitbits to our wrist and GPS to our vehicles will bring safety and reliability to our manufacturing sector. Wireless technology is no longer limited to your TV remote and your smartphone; it’s coming fast to the Industrial World.
The result? Fewer stethoscopes, safer work environments, and cleaner maintenance suits.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
KCFTechnologies is an engineering company founded in 2000 and based in Central Pennsylvania. Its latest breakthrough is a wireless sensor system that notifies you when a machine is going to fail before it actually does. It’s called SmartDiagnostics. Organizations taking advantage of this new technology are seeing significant improvements in safety, uptime and profitability.