Predictive maintenance – the concept
Using predictive maintenance to avoid unplanned downtime or any failures in your own production or at the customer's is a central idea of Industry 4.0. This means that machines or products let you know "on their own", that a failure is very likely to occur soon. This must happen in good time so that a maintenance intervention to prevent the failure can still be easily scheduled. The more precise the prediction of a failure, the shorter the maintenance can be carried out before the failure would occur and the closer one is to the technically optimal maintenance time.
But that is not the end of the story. An optimal maintenance time in a production line cannot be defined without considering the upstream and downstream processes, which are affected by maintenance interventions, too. For instance, the due date of critical orders should be taken into account here. This means that for the definition of the optimal maintenance time in a business context it’s not just necessary to have precise technical information on upcoming failures, but also to integrate relevant data from MES and ERP systems.
The technological setup
In most cases, Predictive Maintenance is technologically based on a Condition Monitoring system. This means that machines or products are already monitored by collecting all relevant data. For a Predictive Maintenance system, this data must now be analyzed, correlations identified and finally transferred into machine learning algorithms. In order to develop good algorithms, very large amounts of data are necessary.
Such amounts are commonly not available in an initial situation. It is therefore often necessary to collect and analyze relevant data over a certain period of time (as part of a condition monitoring system).
The qualification of data sets by employees can provide a certain way out of this. If they can interpret data based on their experience, it might be possible to get to reliable predictions much quicker.
Predictive maintenance – added value
The potential of a well-functioning Predictive Maintenance system is enormous:
- In ideal circumstances, you can completely evade facing downtime.
- In addition, you can determine optimal maintenance times in the overall context and thus minimize material and service costs.
- If you can guarantee the continuous availability of your products at the customer's site and know exactly what the costs of operating them are, you will also be able to offer your products’ output "as a service" and thus implement new business models.