Driving Evolution for Preventative Maintenance
Maintenance digitalisation is a solid investment in productivity and profitability for manufacturers. And, as affordability and accessibility rise, the industry has begun to look at digitalisation in a new light.
Finland-based company Distence Oy has been providing machine condition monitoring solutions for large manufacturers for over a decade, giving them a unique perspective on the changes ahead.
Companies need proactive strategies to minimise expensive downtime and keep their equipment running smoothly without critical incidents. Maintenance digitalisation has been discussed for over a decade, but global shifts over the past 12 to 24 months are driving significant progress in the industry.
Let’s look at why the timing is right for companies to explore how the digitalisation of preventative maintenance can lower risk and increase productivity and profitability.
A revolution in remote work fuels new discussions around digitalisation
Reliability and uptime have always been the primary drivers for preventative maintenance, but key factors are aligning for digitalisation to break through in new ways. However, Janne-Pekka Karttunen, CEO of Distence oy, says there is a challenge facing the industry as this change unfolds.
– Digitalisation of maintenance is a huge topic and for a maintenance engineer or manager it can be hard to answer the question What does this mean for me and my daily work?”
According to Karttunen, companies wanting to capitalise on the benefits of digitalisation can help smooth the transition by considering how to dovetail new ideas into existing processes. Creating a better understanding between maintenance engineers or other personnel and those with data expertise can move the industry forward in beneficial ways.
What’s changed in the landscape?
The events of the past two years mean working in distributed teams is suddenly common across many industries that hadn’t embraced remote work in the past. Manufacturing companies that viewed remote work with reservation have learned to use digital tools like never before.
With the need to keep businesses running amid modern-day challenges, a new way of delivering professional services emerged. This shift swept through every industry and every type of work, creating both demand and urgency for remote solutions to industry condition monitoring.
For example, many vendors providing services like oil analyses or vibration-based inspections are moving to remote services and inspections. Digitalisation is a rapidly developing perspective across manufacturing companies, opening up the potential for significant change.
Digitalisation is a smart investment
The need for a sustainable and cost-effective solution for condition monitoring has existed for a long time. Still, manufacturers saw modern solutions as expenses that didn’t fit into existing budgets.
Increases in affordability and value
The affordability of remote condition monitoring technology has increased in recent years, and the value companies are getting from it, is far beyond what they may have realized in the past. Manufacturers are no longer looking at the cost of a new system as a new expense, but assessing the value of the analytics it provides, and the resulting recommendations they can use to maximise the lifetime value of their assets.
Positive returns from digitalisation
As well, studies over time have shown a positive return on investment from Internet of Things (IoT) and digitalisation projects. This potential for positive returns encourages more managers and directors to promote digitalisation initiatives.
Having a business case and a clear user-driven use case is often one of the success factors of digitalisation projects. In parallel, more organisations begin to understand investments in maintenance development are not expenses but investments in productivity and quality.
Investment in reliability is an easier sell
It has been a challenge to adopt new technology in an industry where there is pressure for cost reductions and savings. Looking at what manufacturers can gain from remote condition monitoring requires an open dialogue and mindset from maintenance, operations, and management teams.
The conversation around these topics has shifted with proven results showing the benefits of digitalisation and remote condition monitoring.
Condition monitoring offers valuable insights
Machine condition monitoring leverages the digitalisation of preventative maintenance techniques to create a powerful new approach to maximise machine health across your facility. Distence Oy’s objective, as a leading provider in this space, is to ensure your rotating industrial assets last longer, produce more, and perform better.
With remote condition monitoring, you get an end-to-end solution. It allows you to combine wireless sensors and highly accurate sensing technologies into one platform that integrates into your existing IT infrastructure.
The solutions offered by Distence via their Condence platform use open interfaces, making it possible to combine several methods of machine health analysis. The technology can easily adapt to different environments and machines, making it a widely recognised solution for facilities ready for a new approach.
Breaking down barriers
Even when organisations recognise the gap between their needs and what their current system can manage, progress can be slow. However, the events of the past two years are spurring more progress than ever before.
As an industry, we must work as a collective to move past limiting beliefs and envision a better future with greater rewards for all involved. You may have even heard some of these concerns mentioned in your organisation:
1. We already have enough data
This abundance might be true in some organisations where data is collected for production purposes. However, if the quality of that data is not sufficient for other use cases, it can trigger costly or impractical approaches. Having access to the right information is often the primary need, and this challenge can be solved with AI and machine learning.
2. We need to consider the “10-year perspective”
Industrial investments are often viewed from a 10-year perspective, but technology is evolving much faster now than it used to. It is now more essential than ever to ensure technology can be updated continuously, that it develops over time, and is future-proof.
3. We need one system to do it all
Maintenance employees already have multiple systems they use daily, so adding one more can feel overwhelming. It can be compelling for maintenance engineers to wish for one system that solves every problem. In maintenance, a more practical approach is to ensure integration between systems and create workflows that support operational processes.
Evolution lies ahead: how can manufacturers prepare?
The need for reliability and maintenance professionals is not going anywhere, yet it can rise to another level. The question is how we can re-imagine the operational processes that may be limiting us, not the access to technology.
• User-centric software engineering
One of the core principles in software development is to encourage vendors and to design technology that is user-friendly and supports more efficient business processes.
• A new approach to delivering peak reliability
Using results and process-oriented methods to deliver reliability is an effective approach that can help achieve buy-in from operations teams.
• Smooth implementation of new projects
Digitalisation could support the implementation phase of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) projects, as the majority of manufacturers report challenges during the implementation phase.
• Training is key
Condition monitoring allows manufacturers to scale up the capacity of how many machines they can monitor. In doing so, you might take a maintenance engineer from monitoring a small number of machines manually, to being able to monitor thousands of machines, then performing maintenance where and as needed for optimal machine health.
According to Karttunen, The digitalisation of condition monitoring is a triangle of:
a) understanding the data, its structures and models, and how it is processed,
b) understanding the maintenance procedures, and creating a workflow that supports the function and business process,
c) and understanding the physics of these industrial machines.”
Why is the transformation of preventative maintenance so critical to the manufacturing industry?
One might compare the shift to preventative maintenance to how communication has evolved over the past few decades. Technology didn’t change our need to communicate, but it transformed our capacity to share ideas and connect with one another.
No longer do we simply communicate with one person at a time through single written or spoken messages. Now we can send a message to thousands with the tap of a computer keyboard.
Technology will not change the need for preventative maintenance. It won’t alter the principal design of a pump or an electric motor, nor will it quickly disrupt many principles of industrial processes.
However, it could transform our operational processes and how we organise our businesses around them, and this is where enormous opportunity lies.
Condence offers machine conditioning monitoring solutions that combine affordability with deep insights and benefits that drive business performance. As more manufacturers adopt digitalisation and condition monitoring as the new standard, the industry is poised for dramatic increases in both productivity and profitability.
Janne-Pekka Karttunen, CEO, Distence Oy
The rise of maintenance droids
A popular vision of a future with robots was created by the immensely popular Star Wars movies. The word “droid” is so ubiquitous that it is hard to believe the word was created and trademarked by George Lucas, the films’ director. In fact, Star Wars robots have motivated real science. As an example, NASA’s personal satellite assistant was inspired by the lightsaber training droid used by Luke Skywalker. If a minor droid in Star Wars can influence NASA, can R2-D2 and BB-8, the movies’ two nonanthropomorphic robots, have an effect on how we conduct repairs?
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