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Industry 4.0 provides new possibilities for preventive maintenance

Predictive Maintenance Industry Source: Bosch

Industry 4.0 solutions can provide optimum support for preventive maintenance concepts in manufacturing. Maintenance professionals benefit from the new technologies: their work schedules become targeted and more effective, machine downtimes and repair times decrease, and the production flow can be continuously improved.

Traditional preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance comprises the planning and execution of maintenance measures before a certain damage-related machine condition or uncontrolled machine failure can occur. The corrective maintenance needed to fix an unexpected machine failure inevitably takes more time than punctual preventive maintenance would have done. To stop this happening, there are two kinds of preventive maintenance available:

Infographic showing condition-based maintenance and predetermined maintenance lead to preventive maintenance. Source: Bosch.IO

When we look at the comparison, it becomes clear that predetermined maintenance can lead to increased material requirements for spare parts and higher costs. By contrast, condition-based maintenance requires more information – which can often be difficult to establish. Both approaches are characterized by the fact that there is an additional time lag before active maintenance is undertaken on account of logistical and technical delays. For example, the technician may be busy and need a long time before he or she can get to the machine, or the wrong worker could be dispatched and cannot even repair the machine.

In summary, there are three challenges for preventive and particularly for condition-based maintenance

  1. Easy establishment of information at the machine
  2. Flexible evaluation and analysis of the information
  3. Fast and targeted forwarding of the information

How do Industry 4.0 solutions help to design smarter and more effective processes?

Having information at the required time and at the right place is the key to success in meeting all three challenges and providing maintenance technicians with optimum support.

1) Real-time condition monitoring

Industry 4.0 software can help to create the information availability and processing required. Machine and sensor data is recorded and displayed in real time, providing the basis for real-time condition monitoring. Data visualization is not restricted to the control station. The same solution can be available everywhere – from big screens to tablet computers and smartphones, on premises and in the cloud. And it can be accessed by everyone – from those in charge of machine settings to a variety of experts.

2) Flexible evaluation and analysis options

Data is evaluated using highly customized rules and analyses that production planners, process experts, or even the maintenance technicians can configure on their own without the need for complicated IT know-how. The software adapts to the expert’s needs. As such, Industry 4.0 is ushering in a paradigm shift. The software is designed for human needs and not, as before, programmed with just the machine in mind. This means the maintenance technician can create rules such that defined machine parameters trigger notice of upcoming maintenance. And this maintenance is performed only when it is actually needed. Conversely, of course, limit values and rules can also be set such that unscheduled machine stoppages are immediately displayed and notifications sent to the relevant people.

3) Targeted notification of experts

As soon as the software has identified an upcoming maintenance task based on the preset parameters, the information must be forwarded quickly and specifically to the right team member via a digital ticket. To give an example, this means that an available worker with the right qualifications for maintaining the laser machine in hall 3 receives a ticket in their account and on their phone telling them to carry out the maintenance. In the ticket, they see the issue and all relevant information for the maintenance task. As soon as they have finished, they can note down some useful tips to facilitate future maintenance and close the ticket. In their personal digital Kanban board overview, they can see a full list of their tickets and statuses (“open,” “in progress,” or “resolved”).

Consequently, Industry 4.0 solutions enable manufacturers to implement preventive maintenance in a targeted manner. Experts in the plant can continuously improve the maintenance cycle. Maintenance technicians can continue to tweak the condition monitoring parameters as time goes by and also add new parameters. The knowledge library of maintenance and repair hints and instructions can be constantly expanded and updated, leading to a continual improvement in repair times.

If you would like to discover exactly how you can use Industry 4.0 solutions to systematically improve your machine availability, then our webcast (also available in German) is just the thing for you:

More on the impact of IoT on maintenance processes

From remote to predictive maintenance: Alexandra Sciocchetti explains how IoT refines a classic M2M concept.

Predictive maintenance helps lower operating and capital costs. Steve Hilton explains how.