What does maintenance mean in the digital age? Today's industries require new and diversified skills in addition to being extremely complex in the different stages of the production process.

However, the ultimate goal of the maintenance technician is still the same: to keep the production going by limiting downtime as much as possible. Today there are a series of technologies that constantly monitor the state of the machines in order to support the maintenance technician. The collected data are usually shown on dedicated panels, which the maintenance technician must be able to use and interpret. The task is not always simple.

But in addition to new skills, there are also new ways to maintain the entire production system. If, traditionally, maintenance is seen as an unpredictable activity, carried out when there is a problem, today it can become targeted and brought to anticipate failures in a timely way. In this case we are talk about predictive maintenance. In other words, this term refers to the activity of intervention on the production line components replacing them before a break, based on the careful analysis of the machinery data. What are the benefits of this approach? Let's look at some of them.

 

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Benefits of predictive maintenance

1. Downtime reduction

This is the most direct consequence of a predictive maintenance: the lower the chances of a machine failing during processing, the lower the downtime will occur. The advantages of this result are obvious. On the one hand, it saves time and money, on the other, it will be easier to avoid delays in deliveries and therefore customer dissatisfaction.

2. Optimize resources

Reducing waste in this case means not only reducing production waste due to malfunctioning but also lengthening the average life of important production system components: carrying on maintenance before a critical situation leads to less stress on the systems. Through a predictive maintenance program all this will be possible and it will be much easier.

Moreover, the savings linked to the cost of human resources are not of secondary importance: the reduction of emergencies clearly affects the costs of both operational and technical personnel.

3. 360 degree visibility

Collecting data to implement a predictive maintenance program is an important step to gain complete visibility into the process. Through technological tools, it will be possible to know in real time the state of the machinery by all the people involved, from the operator to the production manager.

In particular, we are talking about three different types of data:

  • Environmental data such as temperature, humidity, frequency of vibrations, etc.
  • Historical data, such as failures that occurred and the maintenance operations performed.
  • Operational data such as, for example, the utilization rate of the plants.

4. Data-driven culture and continuous improvement

In a factory it is not always easy to look to the future, as the staff is busy with the many daily activities. But knowing how to build a long-term strategy is necessary to stay competitive on the market. Competitiveness today also depends on the ability to analyze all available information: in the case of manufacturing, the real challenge is to extract value from the Internet of Things.

The ability to access and correctly store data allows us to build a structured predictive maintenance program based on historical production data. These data, together with the company's know-how, will allow to continuously improve the prevention of downtimes and maintenance activities.

To conclude …

The digitalization of production processes, that is the possibility of collecting factory data in real time and storing them correctly, allows to better know the problems of machinery and to avoid downtimes and micro-downtimes.

The creation of a digital factory, a fundamental requirement to implement a predictive maintenance program, makes it possible to use advanced analysis in decision-making processes based on increasingly accurate and simple data to be processed. To this already important result, we add the benefits related to cost advantages and efficiency improvements.

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