5 steps to kick-starting a modern maintenance strategy

The key to manufacturers thriving in the modern maintenance era is harnessing the data to your benefit – and it requires a modern maintenance solution to keep all of your assets, people, and processes working together.

By Paul Lachance

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The world of manufacturing maintenance is evolving as we all witness the progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Like steam power, assembly-line manufacturing and then robots, this industrial internet of things (IIoT) movement is changing manufacturing. The plant floors of today are filled with technology and interconnected machinery and equipment that can be adjusted and automated to save time and work smarter. Your CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) is a prime recipient of these new-found powers and abilities.

The key to manufacturers thriving in the modern maintenance era is harnessing the data to your benefit – and it requires a modern maintenance solution to keep all of your assets, people, and processes working together.

Just as with the previous industrial revolutions, today’s revolution is highlighted by machinery advances that have optimized production, reduced inaccuracies, required less labor hours and created higher product quality. Automated sensors that perform continuous condition monitoring to keep our high-tech machines at high productivity are among the critical advances for industry. All taking full advantage of the cloud, these high-tech tools allow today’s manufacturers to better care for assets and allow them to run stronger for longer.

With all of the technology changes and advancements, a CMMS has been a constant since the 1960s. Software providers today as back then must make sure their solutions use any and all tech advancements to help achieve superior maintenance, reduce downtime and improve profitability for manufacturers. A recent example of the application of this is with the introduction of mobile devices.

Today’s CMMS solutions should combine the most important aspects of modern maintenance, including:

  • Predictive maintenance (PdM)
  • A focus on data and IoT
  • Managing backlog and inventory
  • Improvement cycles for continued success

It's all about giving operations professionals in manufacturing the tools they need to simplify their day-to-day tasks while also getting smarter about what should be done when it comes to assets. When data can lead the way for more strategic decision-making, assets, staff and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) all improve together.

Predictive maintenance 

With the speed of today's work and technology, relying on outdated maintenance routines isn't enough to help your team maintain your assets at peak condition. Proactive, or preventive, maintenance (PM) is essential to keep from running your machines to failure. While PM is a great step toward proactively maintaining your assets (and reducing downtime in your production schedules), the next step toward true efficiency is to harness the data in your machines with predictive maintenance (PdM).

In a recent survey conducted with Plant Services, around 31 percent of maintenance professionals indicated that they know their ratio of reactive to proactive work, and 28 percent weren’t sure how much work they had in their backlog.

Not knowing this ratio is common and understandable. With everything going on in the day, crunching data on work orders can feel like an extra task that detracts from working on your assets.

That’s why it’s important to have a tool that not only organizes work orders but also automatically provides you with valuable data that helps your team continuously improve. To adequately capture the health and status of your machines and make sure you're focused on what’s most important, your maintenance team needs a tool that empowers them to own their assets.

CMMS: Designed for data

There are many types of data flying around a factory. Whether you’re trying to capture this data from building automation, PLCs/SCADA, OPC, or somewhere else, it’s vital that your CMMS can receive and utilize data from any source. It’s also important to understand that there is a range of technologies, from basic “DIY” sensors to embedded technology in modern production assets and everything in between. To ensure that you’re set up to successfully integrate all types of data on your shop floor, look for a CMMS partner that has an “agnostic” IoT strategy. That way, you won't be locked in to using a certain type of hardware and can remain flexible as your organization grows.

IoT is a game-changer from the plant-floor standpoint, but its DNA is in CMMS. The two primary use cases are for “alarm” work orders to get created and for meter-reading, usage and PdM-related metrics to be absorbed from IoT to create a work order. Creating work orders based off of machine feedback without any human interaction is what makes IoT so incredibly valuable.

The next step, which many organizations are just beginning to take –  involves machine learning and advanced predictive analytics and ultimately even artificial intelligence (AI).

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