Posted by: Ute Decker on July 26, 2017
Improved efficiency and productivity is a key requirement in the manufacturing industry for sustainable growth. Operational downtime is the enemy to be avoided at all cost. This also affects partners and suppliers across the manufacturing supply chain – and can especially be felt by the machine building sector.
In the past, you’d often find that each machine was assigned its own technician to monitor its performance and perform diagnostic reviews known as “condition monitoring.” Condition monitoring is intended to prevent machine failure by monitoring the condition of a specific parameter within a machine, such as vibration or temperature. With a close eye on these machines, technicians can identify any significant changes that indicate a developing fault. This process is a major component of predictive maintenance.
In today’s plant environment, however, there are far fewer technicians responsible for monitoring the data of an increasing number of machines with much higher production speed. Out of this new working environment arises the need for machine builders and end users alike to have immediate access to the maintenance data of their machines. Much like other dated processes in today’s digital world, condition monitoring and predictive maintenance have gone wireless.
Wireless technology is playing a huge role in enabling fewer technicians to be in more places at once, without needing a physical presence or traveling far distances. Previously, this process was achieved by placing fixed monitors close to or on the machines themselves to check on process data, and the technicians responsible for monitoring would manually review the data on-site.
Now, wireless monitoring applications not only make it easier for technicians to monitor a larger number of machines, they can even provide predictive monitoring data that can preempt issues and optimize machine performance. This is done by utilizing the large data sets made accessible by machines being wirelessly connected, with the data centralized in the control room for additional analysis. All of this, now done from the convenience of a tablet or mobile device.
In the past, technicians would have to perform diagnostic checks and condition monitoring on-site for each machine. With the implementation of today’s wireless monitoring systems, these tasks can conveniently be performed via tablet or mobile device.
This new way to monitor and predict issues or maintenance needs for machines has major benefits for both machine builders and manufacturers.
Let’s be honest – all manufacturers really care about in the end is high uptime of their machines, right? With fewer planned maintenance periods, in order to produce more output from the factory, the windows of time for updates continues to shrink. When factories need to halt operation to fix machine issues, the unplanned maintenance costs money, time and effort. Higher machine availability ultimately equals less maintenance costs and higher output.
This is where machine builders can really help their customers. By leveraging all that wireless can offer when it comes to predictive maintenance, they can help identify and addresses issues before they occur. This is an entirely new business model and potential revenue stream for machine builders. Here are a few ways machine builders could benefit from adding this service to their portfolio:
In order to access machine data on a smart phone or tablet, a wireless connection must be installed on the machine through an industrial wireless access point.
So, if this growing trend of using wireless connections to monitor machines offers mutual benefits to machine builders and manufacturers, why aren’t we seeing more of it? Perhaps you’re not sure where to start.
Whether you’re just now considering or have already embarked on the journey to tap wireless capabilities for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, here are seven key considerations:
Are you interested in introducing wireless applications to your condition monitoring? If so, you’ll need to make security a top priority. Be sure to read Belden’s free white paper, “A Construction Kit for Secure Wireless Network Design.”
Marco Reichenbaecher | Email Marco
Senior Vertical Marketing Manager, Automotive Manufacturing
Marco Reichenbächer has been in the automation industry since 2003, and has worked for Belden since 2007. He graduated with a business administration degree from the University of Münster. Marco has more than 13 years of experience with different industries, such as discrete manufacturing, especially in the automotive, transportation, oil and gas and power markets. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, Marco managed several industries as a vertical marketing manager and defined the strategic operations planning of Hirschmann and Lumberg Automation to implement growth initiatives for key product lines and markets. Today, he works for the vertical marketing department leading automotive manufacturing to develop application oriented solutions and create marketing campaigns for this industry.