Predictive Maintenance – The Next Revolutionary Shift In Manufacturing

Source: Industry Europe

By: Igor Ilunin 29/09/2019

Igor Ilunin, head of AI at global technology consultancy DataArt explains why he sees predictive maintenance as the next big revolutionary shift in manufacturing.  

Picture being able to know when a machine or process is going to break down before it happens. Imagine possessing the ability to predict the future accurately, thereby optimising manufacturing costs through increased operational efficiency.

Think of the massive benefits you would derive from running your production without any downtime, while each component of your processes is effectively maintained according to the comprehensive and intelligent analysis of sensor data. Welcome to the revolutionary world of predictive maintenance.

Although the application of predictive maintenance was once confined to use by a small number of innovative thinkers and outliers, this “futuristic” concept has evolved into a widespread reality. In fact, we’ve now reached the point where developing a comprehensive PdM strategy is a vital component of running a successful business with a competitive edge.

What is predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance, or PdM, harnesses the advanced computing power of modern devices to allow for the calculation and processing of data within devices themselves. By managing data at a local level, PdM removes the need for cloud or server processing while providing real-time information. The use of artificial intelligence creates further efficiency and increased value throughout the process.

Through the application of a sophisticated PdM solution, all data processing, monitoring, and predictions are conducted intelligently by individual devices, which are capable of providing suggestions about the ideal methods and timeframes for maintaining equipment and business processes. PdM optimises every aspect of operations while providing massive savings and ensuring maximal productivity through intelligent predictions and effective actions.

Competitive edge

With predictive maintenance on the cusp of widespread adoption across multiple industries, many are looking to steal a march on their competitors. Predictive maintenance is the 21st century crystal ball that looks set to keep on giving. Artificial intelligence makes machines capable of harnessing their computing power to provide suggestions for decisions that optimise the maintenance of all machinery, thereby greatly reducing downtime while increasing the longevity of machines. The financial savings are sizeable – estimates show US manufacturers losing $50 billion a year due to unplanned downtime. In addition to saving money and reducing production interruptions, PdM improves reliability to ensure the smooth delivery of products in a timely fashion.

Predictive maintenance therefore looks set to bestow a significant competitive edge on those who apply it. As we look to the near future, the companies which develop comprehensive PdM solutions will reap a number of key benefits:

  • Optimisation of operational expenses
  • Material cost savings
  • Reduction in manufacturing expenses
  • Lean production to decrease inventory overhead
  • Sophisticated data-driven analytics, insights, and decisions
  • Faster time-to-market through artificial intelligence technologies

One of the most compelling features of predictive maintenance is the exceptionally low effort required from a company and the minimal cost necessary to build a system. This, combined with  a multitude of benefits that optimise business operations on an on-going basis, increases efficiency, and reduces expenses, makes PdM an attractive option.

Predictive maintenance is of increasing interest to a wide range of industries, and for very good reasons. According to research by McKinsey, the application of PdM techniques can result in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) margin improvements of an incredible 4-10%. McKinsey also reports a reduction in machine downtime of 30-50% and an increase in machine life of 20-40% through the application of a PdM solution.

Minimal barriers to entry

Predictive maintenance techniques are already being successfully applied in manufacturing, oil and gas and other industries, and PdM is likely to be spreading rapidly in the not-too-distant future.

The optimal time to start building a PdM solution is now. Although predictive maintenance could be viewed as an asset today, soon it will be viewed as a vital component of staying ahead of the competition.

The importance of applying predictive maintenance techniques to ensure a successful future cannot be overstated. Considering the remarkably low cost and minimal effort required from a company for the development of a comprehensive PdM system, the barriers to entry are virtually non-existent, while the ongoing benefits are enormous.

From space to Earth – predictive maintenance is here to stay

PdM has come a long way from its early days when NASA was the first organisation to deeply explore the possibilities of PdM in an effort to prevent operational issues from interfering with the main engine of the space shuttle. As predictive maintenance gained further attention, several other sectors subsequently joined the race, including the energy industry. Aviation was another early adopter, utilising PdM techniques in aircraft and engine components to increase efficiency and avoid downtime.

Although predictive maintenance used to exist in only a handful of industries, the application of PdM solutions is rapidly expanding. PdM looks set to be the next revolutionary shift in manufacturing and many other industries. Corporate leaders would do well to start building their predictive maintenance strategies, and even full-blown solutions now, to avoid the perils of late adoption or missing the boat entirely.

Tags: AI |