Facility Dude

Using the IIoT to Improve Your Maintenance Operations

By FacilityDude
Mar 30, 2016


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IIoT is becoming a well-known trend in the manufacturing industry. The buzzword describes the machine to machine communications or the interconnectivity of machines using sensors and Wi-Fi. The trend is increasing due to the major benefits it creates in all parts of manufacturing operations, especially in maintenance of equipment. The IIoT is already becoming common practice in a lot of European countries, especially Germany where they refer to a similar IIoT vision as the ‘Industrie 4.0’. This may be the opportunity for U.S. companies to not only stay competitive with their European counterparts, but also continue the trend of on-shoring, bringing their facilities back to the U.S. from lower cost regions.. The process is not as complicated as it sounds and the benefits are astonishing. Any equipment with a PLC, HMI, or a 1-2 sensors can easily be connected and provide vital feedback for actionable analysis.

What are some capabilities that the IIoT provides for improved maintenance operations?

IIoT provides the capability to use cycle times and runtime

How do you know when to schedule your preventive maintenance? Many times, calendar based strategies are in place although they are often not the most efficient because they do not relate directly to the machining equipment’s use. Imagine that you used your machines for three shifts all month but the next month you only used it for one. This example clearly illustrates completely different wear and usage that is unrelated to time. Therefore, we suggest using cycle time instead so that you can maintain the equipment at the same condition each time. Cloud-based solutions allow for monitoring of cycles automatically, cutting out preventive maintenance that is unnecessary. With the use of cycle times, you can determine an efficient preventive maintenance strategy and avoid using a corrective approach in most cases.

IIoT provides the capability to identify Trends

It is vital to track overall equipment health by its individual components such as temperature, pressure, vibration, coolant flow, and the many other possibilities on different equipment, to be able to identify trends within them. Automating the tracking of important operating factors allows effective preventive maintenance to turn into predictive maintenance, which results in even more successful operations. If the same factors are causing problems on the same equipment over time, then the maintenance professional knows to focus their efforts there, determining trends that are leading to unplanned downtime. When this whole process is automated, work orders are placed as soon as the early warning signs happen, rather than after a malfunction.

IIoT provides the capability to establish and transmit codes for specific failures

Using codes for specific failures as part of the communication stream of the interconnected machines allows for more accurate work orders to be created which address the specific problem being identified. The error code communicated allows the technician to prepare before they arrive on site with the right spare parts already in hand. Therefore, simple codes can eliminate the need to check the equipment before creating work orders and save a lot of time in the long-haul. Even though the IIoT cannot prevent all unplanned downtime or breakdowns, this integration does take preventable issues out of the equation.

IIoT provides the capability to of better Data and Analysis

With automated and optimized data capture, you can see warnings and prevent equipment failures, tremendously decreasing unplanned downtime. Additionally, the data offers trends where improvement opportunities can be made. With an IIoT, it is possible to minimize the need to remove equipment from service for restoration unless there is a clear trend that calls for it. The analysis of the data also drives technicians to focus on the most common identified failure. Another key benefit for maintenance managers is justifying equipment replacements due to the all-encompassing data directly from your current equipment. Capturing data and analyzing it will allow for a better maintenance strategy and much more efficient operations.

When added together, it becomes clear that even a concept as forward-thinking as IIOT is rooted in solid, time-tested manufacturing strategies that companies have relied on for decades. The ability to make data-based decisions, monitor equipment trends over time and apply maintenance proactively instead of reactively are basic to the operations of a production shop. Yet with the power of IIOT combined with a cloud-based asset management system, these practices become much easier to implement – and the positive results for the business are apparent.

Want to learn more? Attend Dwayne Divers’ Why IIoT? Learn the Basics Webinar on June 1.

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