Predictive Maintenance Keeps Industry 4.0 Up And Running
by Johannes Papst
18th-century pilgrims, hoisted up cliffs to a Greek monastery by basket and rope, would ask, “How often do you replace the rope?” Mischievous monks replied “When it breaks.”
The self-aware digital sensors of a predictive maintenance (PdM) solution could have checked their equipment, alerting the monks when the rope needed repair or replacement.
According to SAP Service Council Data 2013, 70-90% of the total lifetime cost of heavy equipment is in maintenance and repair. Using technology to cut costs through PdM and emerging issue detection can have a significant positive impact on profitability and customer service.
Listening to the sensors
One aim of PdM is to encourage industrial machinery and component industry (IM&C) manufacturers to embed digital sensors in industrial machinery and components. These sensors would allow users to schedule maintenance at an optimal time, cutting costly unscheduled maintenance or breakdown. Digital sensors collect data on vibration, lubrication, bearing temperatures, noise, and a host of other variables, information that can predict when components will fail or need repair or replacement.
But that’s only the beginning. PdM can also collect and integrate similar information from many other machines. Manufacturers can schedule required maintenance for customers. They can also allow the customer to replace their manufacturing process with other machines and locations, ensuring continuous production.
IM&C companies focus on the end-to-end life cycle of machines, providing maintenance and service to customers with the least impact on costs or production. IM&Cs can also gain invaluable insights into performance metrics across a broad range of industries and operating conditions.
The Internet of Things
A common topic among enterprise thought leaders is Industrial Revolution 4.0. First there was water and steam power. This was followed by electric power. More recently there was computing power. Now we have the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Internet has brought people and information together to exchange ideas and create new ones. IoT will bring machines and information together to collaborate and create a manufacturing transformation.
This will be especially true in the growing area of custom manufacturing.
Custom-manufactured items will contain embedded computing abilities. The unfinished item and the machines on the line will communicate and interact. Using standard technologies, they will customize output by following the customer’s order data.
This may lead to “lights-out factories,” in which the role of the human becomes that of an orchestrator and exception manager, taking part only when extra creativity or imagination are required.
PdM in the real world
In the traditional preventative maintenance model, repair or replacement and service is based on factors such as time, number of cycles, and anticipated wear. Airplane maintenance has used this principle for many years. This model is changing, particularly on commercial planes, which have hundreds of sensors that send terabytes of information daily.
The downside of preventative maintenance is that the model uses the law of averages rather than real-time data, which can be inefficient. Maintenance may replace a part before its useful life is over, or conversely, a part may break before it’s replaced or repaired. Either situation means unscheduled downtime, lost production, and significant costs.
In the PdM model, sensors track the health of machines and components. They alert the IM&C service department when they need maintenance. Service reviews the information and contacts the machine operator or customer.
Parts are ordered after customer approval. Data from nearby machines is reviewed to determine if they need maintenance that can be performed during the downtime. Manufacturing orders and resource schedules allow rerouting to other machines or sites to ensure that production continues during the maintenance downtime.
Spare parts, tools, and visual instructions arrive on site. A geospatial review from machine GPS sensors ensures efficient travel planning if several locations are involved. PdM may also have subsets, such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), which might include confined space, hotwork, safe work and lockout-tagout, or other energy isolation safety procedures. These may be integrated into the data to become part of a future digital transformation.
When the maintenance work is completed, event-driven notification tells the customer, and the invoice is sent. A courtesy visit by an IM&C sales executive during the process can help build customer relations. The customer benefits from cost savings, increased uptime, and the reassurance offered by OEM parts and service. The IM&C benefits include increased revenue, continuing customer contact, a competitive advantage, and a growing database that can be leveraged to maximize future customer service across many lines.
PdM is the manufacturer’s model for the future. But for those cliff-top monks with their rope and basket, PdM would have taken all the fun out of teasing their visitors.
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