A smart, connected maintenance strategy can help enhance production quality, efficiency, safety and cost savings.
By Denio Leone, global product manager, Rockwell Automation
The machine jerked to a stop and alarms blared, alerting Dave to another part failure. His frustration rose as he frantically worked to get the aging print-material binding machine back up and running. With multiple shifts and technicians, the sporadically updated manual logs left little visibility into when such failures might occur. In addition, the unplanned downtime could last minutes, hours or sometimes days, especially if a part wasn’t available.
Meanwhile, across the country at a similar bindery, John reviewed the detailed online maintenance logs and the plant’s predictive maintenance software. With his machines connected and communicating with the enterprise, John knew immediately which assets needed attention before they failed. With this information, he planned ahead to make sure parts were on hand.
The Case for Better Maintenance
The two methods above show the stark contrast between reactive and proactive maintenance and the challenge many manufacturers face using traditional maintenance methods. With a combination of aging assets and pressure to increase efficiency and reliability, companies are looking across their organizations for places to improve operations, better manage their workforce and cut costs.
One such area to look is maintenance. Traditional maintenance has involved scheduled, hourly work on equipment, many times in reaction to something. When equipment or processes failed, a new part was ordered, or a note was made on a clipboard to record the event.
For both local and global manufacturers, this type of reactive maintenance means increased costs and unscheduled downtime.
An Asset Management Strategy
Long considered a cost center, maintenance has the possibility to drive profitability in an organization by improving quality, effectiveness, safety and other areas.
As a part of an overall asset management strategy, managing the maintenance tasks through specialized software and other tools can help reduce manual entry of device readings and share vital information with other areas of production.
For example, information from controllers, drives, switches and data centers can provide an alert that there is a failure or record the number of failures over a period of time.
Engineering, maintenance and storeroom personnel also can access historical data and know which assets may be nearing end of life or be able to detect patterns in their equipment. They can see usage and costs, making them more efficient in managing labor, time and capital.
Capturing an event history for a specific device can help to determine the reason for the failure and reduce unscheduled downtime.
Average downtime of the device, maintenance history and other factors can help to determine the best path forward for operational efficiency.
Strike a Balance
With smart, connected devices gathering information, maintenance managers can prioritize maintenance activities, proactively manage the condition and health of their assets and improve mean time between failures. This improves the bottom line and value of the operations.
Leveraging information to help monitor assets and manage operations is critical to balancing between reactive and proactive maintenance.
To achieve efficiency between these two categories, look at the amount of data you are entering into systems and remove the non-value-added labor involved. By maintaining asset health in a proactive matter, you can help reduce risk in your organization and help to improve your operational effectiveness.
The Journal From Rockwell Automation and Our PartnerNetwork™ is published by Putman Media, Inc.