ManufacturingMarch 15, 2019

Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance in Manufacturing

In the manufacturing industry, equipment maintenance is integral to keeping your company running.
Avatar Megan Ray Nichols

In the manufacturing industry, equipment maintenance is integral to keeping your company running. If a piece of equipment fails, the downtime is expensive — both in equipment repair costs and lost production time. Depending on how much you produce in an average day, a single hour of downtime can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 or more. Monitoring and predictive maintenance can help you keep everything moving smoothly. What role do these two tools play in manufacturing?

Predictive Maintenance vs. Preventive Maintenance

Before we get into predictive maintenance and monitoring, we do need to address a different form of maintenance — preventive. Preventive maintenance is merely the practice of fixing small problems before they become big ones. Changing the oil in your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is preventive maintenance. You probably already have a schedule in place for preventive maintenance for each piece of equipment — replacing belts, changing oil or grease and inspecting each moving part for signs of wear and tear that could indicate the beginnings of more significant problems.

Predictive maintenance, especially when paired with monitoring, takes preventive maintenance to a whole new level.

What Is Predictive Maintenance?

You most likely already have a maintenance schedule in place for going over each piece of machinery on your production floor to help keep everything running. Each piece has its manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule, and keeping up with that can prevent any unscheduled downtime. Sometimes, though, equipment fails. What if you could predict those failures and fix the problems before they take your production floor offline?

That’s where predictive maintenance comes in.

A predictive maintenance algorithm examines your maintenance and repair history, using data you’ve collected over months or years. It’s programmed to look for patterns human observers might miss. These patterns can indicate when a piece of equipment might fail outside its regular maintenance schedule. With enough information, these programs can even predict future failures.

Remote Equipment Monitoring

While predictive maintenance can help you predict equipment failures, these algorithms are only as good as the data they have to work with. That’s where monitoring comes in.

Wi-Fi-enabled monitoring can help you keep track of the state of your equipment in real time. You can check any machine at any time from a computer or even from a smartphone. These sensors can also feed data directly into your predictive maintenance system, providing more accurate information than you can obtain by putting the info into the computer manually after regular repairs.

Benefits of Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

Why should you consider investing in a monitoring and predictive maintenance system for your plant?

As we’ve already mentioned, downtime is costly. Any unexpected equipment failure could potentially cost you thousands of dollars while you wait for a repair. A predictive maintenance and monitoring system improves the reliability of your plant, keeping the machines available and making them safer for workers to use.

This kind of regular monitoring can also prevent or lessen regular downtime. You won’t have to take machines offline to inspect them if they have onboard monitors, because someone is always able to watch them. You will still need to bring them offline for regular maintenance, but inspections no longer need to result in downtime.

Investing in this new hardware and software can also help prevent catastrophic failures, which could result in even more expensive repairs or even equipment replacement.

Keeping your equipment running smoothly and reducing downtime will improve your productivity and workplace efficiency.

Predictive maintenance and monitoring are two more tools you can slip into your manufacturing toolbelt to keep your process running smoothly. Instead of waiting for your equipment to fail, or spending a lot of time with it offline so you can inspect the machine, you can use monitors and software to predict problems before they cause the equipment to break down.

The goal here is to keep your machines online as long as possible. With this hardware and software installed, you don’t have to shut down the equipment to keep a close eye on it. Installing predictive maintenance and monitoring systems can take some time and some getting used to, but it can save you thousands of dollars in repair and downtime.

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