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Case Study: Upgrading Predictive Maintenance for Distribution Facility

ICI was approached by a Fortune 50 online retailer and manufacturer who was experiencing regular 
unplanned downtime caused by unexpected failures of critical equipment throughout their distribution facilities, despite monthly inspections with handheld thermal imaging devices. To address these failures, ICI installed a continuous monitoring solution that leverages thermal imaging and proprietary software, SmartIR. After one month, the savings had already paid for the cost of the solution.

The Industry

Online retailers and large manufacturers rely on complex supply chains and highly efficient distribution systems as well as processes to deliver millions of products all over the world. In a distribution facility, even a short stoppage of one or two hours results in tens of thousands, 
if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost throughput and wasted wages of stagnate workers. 
Oftentimes, these production stoppages are caused by failure of a mechanical system, such as a conveyor belt or motor, critical to the distribution or manufacturing processes. ICI’s continuous monitoring solutions monitor critical assets 24/7 and send alerts to help businesses schedule repairs before major breakdowns occur. Common applications include: monitoring of motors, belts, and bearings, inspecting electrical equipment and controllers, security and human detection, early fire detection, leak and spill detection, and more.

The Challenge

A major online retailer was experiencing issues in their distribution facilities, with regular unplanned downtime caused by failures of three high-criticality conveyance assets that were responsible for moving and sorting thousands of packages daily. The facility calculated that the average cost to pay warehouse employees during one hour of downtime was $5000/hour and the average time to repair or replace equipment after an unexpected failure was 2 hours. This $10,000 cost in stagnate wages represents only a fraction of the waste, as the downtime also caused lost productivity and product throughput. Overall waste and lost productivity was measured in the hundreds of thousands of 
dollars within the facility. These critical failures continued to happen, despite leveraging handheld infrared cameras for routine inspections.

ICI's Solution

ICI’s solution included three FMX 400s, ICI’s premier fixed mount infrared imaging solutions, paired with ICI’s SmartIR software for continuous monitoring of critical assets. The continuous monitoring of these assets allowed for constant, 24/7 monitoring and automated alerts should a temperature anomaly be detected, indicating a potential maintenance requirement. The solution was specifically designed to identify issues before failure to make the most of scheduled facility downtime and reduce costs. The solution also provided the customer with the ability to access live video feeds globally, receive instantaneous alerts and notifications, and maintain data archival to improve the decision-making process of management.

The Results

At a system cost of $30,000 for ICI’s three FMX 400 thermal imaging devices, one computer, and three SmartIR subscriptions (one year in length for each camera), ICI’s solution provided a positive ROI after approximately one month for this 24/7 continuous monitoring project. SmartIR identified three imminent critical failures during that time:

  • Smart IR identified a conveyor belt that was running ~20°C hotter than normal. Finding and repairing the issue before failure saved the retailer an estimated $10,000.
  • The system identified a motor 30°C above the expected temperature range. The motor was replaced during scheduled maintenance and saved the retailer nearly $15,000.
  • An angled induct belt alarmed the system and workers found it had tracked and was starting to rub. The belt was repaired and realigned, saving the company $10,000.

The customer has since socialized this product internally to other facilities and has engaged ICI to install these solutions worldwide in their distribution facilities. Learn more about ICI's SmartIR solution for distribution facilities or schedule a demo today.

Download the PDF of the case study here.


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