The engineers keeping large-scale infrastructure moving


Maintenance and Reliability Engineering keeps infrastructure from degrading.

A key industry-relevant conference on maintenance and intelligent asset management that brings together engineering professionals from around the world will be held as a hybrid event at Federation University Australia in December.

Maintenance and Reliability Engineering (MRE) are vital for capital intensive industries, with infrastructure worth billions of dollars across Australia, used by various industries in private and public sectors including power generators, mining, transport and road infrastructure, and the Australian Defence Force.

Dr Gopi Chattopadhyay, a Senior Lecturer and Post Graduate Program Coordinator for Maintenance and Reliability Engineering in the School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences, said industrial and infrastructure assets typically had several systems and subsystems, with hardware including sensors, rotating and sliding parts. Failure or degradation among these parts influences the life of those systems, affecting performance and adding to costs and risks to those organisations, the environment and wider communities.

Dr Chattopadhyay said it was important that the behaviour of components and the subsystems, as well as the costs and risks associated with options in maintenance and replacement decisions, were better understood by competent, knowledgeable and skilled maintenance, reliability and asset management professionals.

“These assets are everywhere but as they age and degrade over time, they require a great deal of cost-effective investment by the asset owners who need to be aware of the integrity of their equipment and to assure that these assets are safe for their employees, the environment and the community. At the same time, these companies are also looking to reduce their operating and capital costs along with reducing risks of failures and further enhancing the performance of systems,” Dr Chattopadhyay said.

More than 300 professionals are enrolled in MRE courses at Federation University every year, with the internationally recognised programs starting in the 1980s. Enrolments include key staff from leading companies including mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto, the Australian Defence Force and leaders from several other associated industries around Australia and globally.

Dr Chattopadhyay said many companies had enhanced their success by improving the knowledge and skills of their staff, leading to improved business performance and the capability to reduce costs and risks.

“Good is not good enough in today's competitive world; companies are striving for excellence and we provide that platform where they can bring projects to our MRE programs, apply the knowledge they learn and solve some of the problems they have in their real-world environment,” Dr Chattopadhyay said.

“At an individual level, those completing these programs have also become equipped for career advancement and in adding value to their employers.”

The International Conference on Maintenance and Intelligent Asset Management (ICMIAM2021) will showcase projects, case studies and selected MRE projects along with industry-leading speakers, academic experts and professional body leaders, who will cover existing and emerging technologies, and topics including extending asset life-cycle addressing reliability, availability, maintainability, safety and security considerations. This will highlight current needs and future directions of asset management including workplace-based research projects in MRE.

“It’s an event that is incredibly important because industries, private and public sector organisations and research communities are coming together to share the knowledge and find out about opportunities that are of mutual interest by networking and also exploring potential collaborative projects.” Dr Gopi Chattopadhyay

Participants include Federation University, Asset Management Council Australia, Asset Management Society India, Manipal University in India and industries and universities from Australia and beyond.

The event was originally scheduled for February but was postponed due to travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Chattopadhyay said hosting a hybrid event with face to face and online sessions would allow the event to go ahead, should there still be restrictions.

“The pandemic has made it difficult, but it has also given us opportunities that we didn’t imagine. Many companies and industries were forced to close or wind down their operations, and as a result, we have had quite a few people who have been able to enrol in our MRE courses. This has been a great opportunity for them to upskill during these challenging times and contribute to industries and society.”

The International Conference on Maintenance and Intelligent Asset Management (ICMIAM2021) will be held from December 12-15, 2021.

For more information, contact Dr Gopi Chattopadhyay, Chair of ICMIAM2021 conference, on +61402467737, or email icmiam2021@gmail.com.

For more information, visit the ICMIAM website.