Smart Maintenance: How a Technological Approach Can Minimize Potential Production Disturbances

Maintenance in an industry is one of the important supporting factors so that the industry remains competitive in the market. Every product made in a factory must have the following:

– Good quality

– Reasonably priced

– Produced and delivered to consumers on time

Therefore the production process must be supported by equipment that is ready to work at any time. To achieve this condition, the equipment supporting the production process must always be maintained regularly and planned. Without a good maintenance process, production activities in an industry can be disrupted. Even a small disturbance in one machine can affect the entire production process. When the production process is disrupted, the plans that have been made can fail in the middle of the road and if that is not completely resolved, you must have heard of companies going bankrupt due to poor maintenance processes! Along with the development of industry, the maintenance process required is also increasingly complex. Traditional approaches often cannot handle every problem that comes and may come.

In the context of ‘Factory of the future’ projects, we now often hear about ‘Smart maintenance’ or in another term ‘intelligent maintenance’.

What do you mean by that?

Helped by the development of digital, maintenance is evolving and now includes predictive bricks based on artificial intelligence.

Industrial interest in Smart Maintenance

First of all, the priority issues of smart maintenance are the availability of assets and the reduction of costs. According to some surveys, smart maintenance approaches can be classified into 3 categories:

Collaboration / CMMS / remote maintenance tools: well-established in companies

Mobility solutions / predictive maintenance: in experimentation

3d printing / virtual reality: under careful investigation, depending on the area of activity

Here, the role of CMMS software is very important. CMMS stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. CMMS software is therefore a computer tool that helps to manage maintenance in the company. It applies to any structure equipped with a production line, from SMEs to large groups, in order to optimize and facilitate the maintenance of the production tool, thus allowing it to be more efficient.

How CMMS software works

CMMS software offers many functionalities, including access to a visual schedule, the possibility of moving operations via a simple drag and drop, or the possibility of creating reproducible processes.

In practice, the CMMS software classifies goods into categories, plans future activities, produces reports that can be transmitted between sites or to headquarters, and manage spare parts stocks.

The benefits of CMMS software

The CMMS software supports maintenance teams in their work. It facilitates the monitoring of activities, makes machines more reliable, manages risks, makes it possible to know the number of stoppages and their causes, to plan maintenance. In other words, it helps to better manage production.

A significant advantage for companies already committed to digitizing their processes, the CMMS software is fully interfaceable with the ERP and the MES for fluid communication of information and instantaneous consideration of events concerning the maintenance of the tool.

However, the results are currently mixed. A point that comes up is the difficulty of measuring results and making business cases to justify the necessary investment in new technologies and staff training.

Gradually, we can distinguish several levels of maintenance covered by CMMS solutions:

– Corrective maintenance: This intervenes when there is a problem.

– Planned maintenance: This schedules an overhaul at a defined rate according to the tool concerned.

– Conditional maintenance: This is triggered after an event in the workshop.

– Predictive maintenance: This relies on data recorded in the company to anticipate future maintenance operations.

The last level “predictive maintenance” will rely on artificial intelligence techniques to anticipate breakdowns, on the basis of data fed back by the machine. The maintenance type will make it possible to detect a failure several hours or days before it occurs. Preventive maintenance can then be planned serenely and thus avoid any stoppage of production. This sector of ‘Smart Maintenance’ seems to us to be one of the most advantaged sectors in terms of the integration of Artificial Intelligence, with Returns on Investment that are easier to calculate than in other cases.

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