Predictive maintenance ensures reduced operational costs
Published by : Industrial Automation
Ninad Deshpande, Head of Marketing, BandR Industrial Automation
Maintenance is a critical aspect of industry – how do companies decide their maintenance strategies?
Machine and line uptime have been important KPIs for any factory or plant. Thus, maintenance has always been an integral part of any manufacturing facility ensuring that this KPI is met. With global competitiveness, continuously evolving technologies, stringent environmental and safety requirements, it has become increasingly important for obtaining higher quality, safety, productivity and profitability. This has increased pressure on maintenance teams for keeping machines and lines operational 24x7. Over the years, maintenance practices in factories have drastically evolved. Factories and plants have transitioned from reactive to preventive maintenance. However, with the need of the hour it is essential for factories to think beyond these practices with predictive and prescriptive maintenance.
For any organisation, it is essential to follow a mix of maintenance practices. Reactive maintenance is adopted at the time of actual asset failure leading to a downtime and maintenance teams diagnose failure reason and get machine and liNinad Deshpandenes functioning. Predictive maintenance helps providing reports and warning about failures even before they occur. Preventive maintenance is during planned shutdowns. Thus, a factory has to adopt a mix of all the above strategies to keep their machines and lines operational 24x7. It is based on scenario which maintenance practice would be applied. The best case scenario is to equip the entire factory with predictive maintenance ensuring reduced operational costs and higher availability.
Why do companies still rely on corrective maintenance despite other options?
Continuous manufacturing highly impacts equipment and moving parts. Equipment failures usually result in machine and line breakdowns resulting in inefficiency, production delay hampering product quality and material wastage. This results in high costs.
Reactive or corrective maintenance is still witnessed in numerous factories across India. These practices usually look cost effective superficially but tend to be more expensive at the end. When a component or device fails, maintenance teams need to depute personnel for identifying cause of failure. Usually if the fault is easy to diagnose the machine and line is brought back to production speeds instantly. However, this is usually not the case and the breakdown diagnosis usually takes a lot of time. In the meantime the entire production line is stopped leading to loss in production, material and time. Similarly, in preventive maintenance, maintenance teams take a planned shutdown and replace components based on their experience. Usually, the devices might not even be towards their end of life and still a replacement is done to prevent any untoward
failures. This too is a huge costs which are not capital in nature. Implementing advanced automation solutions such as predictive maintenance needs some initial capital investment but benefits a factory experience are enormous.
Has predictive maintenance become easier to implement in the IIoT era?
Traditional ways of managing equipment and assets is gradually changing with new features of Industrial IoT such as predictive maintenance making way in factories. It helps in improving equipment reliability. In predictive maintenance, all available data is combined and processed automatically to make accurate predictions about remaining service life of components. This is done using big data analytics, where hundreds or even thousands of parameters from a variety of sources are aggregated and evaluated. Data mining techniques are used to examine historical data to uncover previously unrecognised – and often very complex – correlations. In combination with manufacturer data and information from measuring transducers, it becomes possible to make very precise predictions about when components are likely to fail. This knowledge can be used to make more informed maintenance decisions, such as deferring tasks of lower importance to allow for prompt replacement of components where failure is imminent. It also allows for identification of systematic error patterns and their root causes, so that machine parameters can be adjusted to reduce wear. B&R offers a pre-installed, pre-configured package that makes implementing predictive maintenance more straightforward than ever. It allows organisation to forecast and plan service more efficiently to maximise machine's uptime.
How important is inventory management for a successful maintenance strategy?
Inventory plays important role in the maintenance operations especially in times of breakdowns. These component shortages results in uncertain and prolonged downtime in production leading to delays in final product delivery. At the same time, an excess inventory creates added costs for an organisation and it is impossible for any organisation to keep a stock of all components available of all machines and lines. Thus, an effective inventory management helps an organisation to keep costs in check at the same time benefit from lower downtimes in an event of a breakdown. Resource efficiency with reduced consumption and reduced operational costs is essential for any manufacturing unit. Today, modern machine and lines are automated by intelligent components, which produce enormous amounts of data. Factories leverage this data to be more competitive and in making production processes more agile and responsive by increasing machine availability by preventing unplanned downtime. In such scenarios, with predictive maintenance, organisations can reduced stocks to minimum through valuable information about condition of equipment. Knowing the exact status of inventories allows organisations to streamline the inventory movements according to the actual needs and can manage the cash flow correctly. In addition, with edge architectures together with open source vendor independent communication protocols such as OPC UA and MQTT, factories are able to achieve horizontal as well as vertical connectivity. This bring about an IT/OT convergence in manufacturing units, which helps integrate shop floor data with ERP or MES systems making planning of inventory, maintenance or even supply chains streamlined and more efficient. These solutions together with B&R Secure remote maintenance and Asset Performance Monitor provides a perfect mix of an integrated Industrial IoT solution for any manufacturing unit.
With emerging technologies like AI & ML now coming into play, is Zero Downtime now with sight?
Zero downtime is technically not possible. Artificial intelligence or machine learning surely will help and take manufacturing units to the next level. However, zero downtime is currently a dream or a vision for any organisation. These are similar to terms are zero defects, zero rejection, which are a requirement for any manufacturing to be successful, but very difficult to practically achieve. In my opinion, with these emerging technologies together with existing technologies manufacturing will definitely get a boost reducing downtime and increasing machine availability. With B&R Edge Controller, manufacturing units benefit with a single solution for predictive or condition based maintenance, energy monitoring and process data acquisition all built in a single system. The Edge Controller is also capable of running a Machine Learning or an Artificial Intelligence algorithm, which manufacturing units can use for various tasks and activities. The Edge Controller provides readymade connectivity mechanisms over OPC UA, MQTT and AMQP for a seamless data exchange with the upper IT layers.
As the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic, will maintenance call for altogether different strategies?
In the current scenario, where organisations are operating their factories with restricted employees they cannot afford unplanned downtime. B&R Industrial Automation have ready- made solutions, which can help our Indian manufacturers (machine builder or factories) become ready for Industrial IoT in no time. Secure remote connectivity is a necessity for manufacturing units. With B&R secure remote maintenance solution, machine builders can access machines and lines securely from their offices or homes. This helps maintenance teams on site to reduce downtimes and fault diagnostic times. In addition, a B&R secure remote maintenance coupled with condition based maintenance solution helps manufacturers to log data, which is analysed and provides a detailed analysis and warning for possible failures. With an Edge Controller, a manufacturing units benefits from advanced automation solutions in a single system thus reducing costs, improving efficiency and guaranteeing machine and line uptimes. The strategies will remain the same but peripheral technologies will make the strategies more efficient and robust.
Ninad Deshpande has made it a mission to get to know the needs of internal as well as external customers and understanding their unfulfilled desires thus, being able to provide extraordinary experience. Whether it is executing an exhibition, seminar, conference, implementing a campaign for print or social media, delivering a technology oriented presentation, implementing a branding campaign, or internal and external branding, Ninad takes pride in providing best in class service and experience in record time while always leading by example.