Smart Maintenance: What It Is and How to Put It Into Action

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An unknown someone once said, “I’m allowed to be high maintenance because I’m the one maintaining it.” When an asset  you depend on to run your business breaks down, it’s up to you to locate it, send workers out to reach it, pinpoint the fault and then figure out whether you can repair it or if it needs replacing. All of this takes time. In the interim, you’re losing money and possibly risking lives. Smart maintenance enables you to detect issues and faults, locate the problem, and then repair it before it damages or shuts down  your equipment—and quite possibly your business.Smart Maintenance

It has always been agreed upon by most that prevention is better than trying to cure. In fact, prevention isn’t just preferable, but it’s cheaper, too. Think of the savings by eliminating the cost of kit replacement, the time and risk of having people on the ground doing the repair or change and reducing loss of production and income. The key to prevention is the ability to measure the assets.

The benefits of network technology and IoT

IoT devices fixed into assets are being used to record variables like vibration, temperature, humidity, and flow through at a much more granular level using IoT devices fixed into assets. Combined with advances in 4G and 5G – where we now have global network coverage – connecting and feeding data back from assets and devices is now simpler.

Data from IoT devices flows into a data lake; from there, (AI is used to identify key insights and items of most concern. This insight, displayed via Power BI, offers a visual representation of where issues are most likely to arise.

The lack of Smart Maintenance can have serious consequences. For example, a crucial piece of equipment in an oil refinery malfunctions , reducing supply and causing oil and fuel prices increase. Combine Smart Maintenance and IoT, and you get near- or real-time telemetry allowing organizations to calculate time between failures.

Smart Maintenance boosts brand appeal

Smart Maintenance also indirectly links to brand appeal through perceived quality. Mercedes, for example, uses IoT devices in their vehicles to see what the engine is doing at any given time and predict engine faults before they impact performance, calling the vehicle in for repair before the issue arises. Customers are delighted, and the Mercedes brand is stronger, increasing loyalty and sales.

When deciding whether Smart Maintenance is right for your organization, it’s important to consider:

  • Expense vs long-term value
  • Cost vs margin
  • Cost vs market share
  • Cost vs the ability to implement (Ex: Oil pipelines can be thousands of miles long, so the cost of putting an IoT device on each mile might not be feasible.)

There is also the context of need. The ability for a manufacturer of COVID antivirus vaccine vials to be able to predict a point of failure is vital; if a fault stops production, the manufacturer will never meet the demand for 1,000,000 ampules per day, which endangers lives. Or consider hospital equipment. Without monitoring and Smart Maintenance, a heart monitor that malfunctions cannot not send out an alert, which can put the patient danger. Smart Maintenance doesn’t just impact a business; it impacts lives.

Common sense for any business—in the right situation

By the end of 2021, 90 percent of all manufacturing supply chains invested in technology and business processes like Smart Maintenance and IoT, and 20 percent are treating assets as “internal customers,” monitoring them for faults and predicting when problems might arise. The goal is to  reduce downtime by up to 40 percent.

By the end of 2023, 20 percent of all industries will support EaaS (Everything as a Service), which includes remote IoT. For manufacturers, this equates to prolonged life of factory assets, fewer interruptions in production, reduced operating costs, improved brand perception, and more.

Although the benefits of Smart Maintenance are clear,  it may not be right for every situation. The first step is to assess the cost versus potential ROI, as well as the potential differentiated value. If Smart Maintenance reduces the number of production failures, which leads to ensuring order timelines are met, minimizing repair costs, or delivering a service that adds value, it could be worth the investment.

Visit HSO’s Smart Maintenance hub for more information and how to get started.

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