Smart maintenance: towards “zero outage and zero failure” in industry

With smart maintenance, predicting breakdowns or faults from data supplied by production lines is in no way utopic today; and it contributes to improving industrial performance.

Industrial maintenance takes several forms: corrective, scheduled, preventive, conditional, improvement and even predictive. Smart maintenance provides new opportunities for predictive maintenance in particular; it aims to improve performance and maximise the life span of production lines. It is used to establish the faults occurring probability in order to prevent breakdowns and incidents thereby contributing to maximising the maintenance policy by working towards a “just-in-time” ideal.

While predictive maintenance is not a new concept by itself , recent technological progress is helping improve it and leading towards the implementation of so-called “smart” systems.

Smart maintenance system: the end of production shutdowns?

A smart maintenance system uses the data collected to analyse the machines’ behaviour and to predict and prevent failures. Smart maintenance is made possible by innovative connected sensors and actuators on machines, together with data collection, storage and analysis systems, and interconnected databases.

The aim is to reach zero shutdown and zero failure. The smart maintenance system helps to improve predictive maintenance and to foresee problems rather than having to deal with them after they have occurred.

The aim is to reach zero shutdown and zero failure. The smart maintenance system helps to improve predictive maintenance and to foresee problems rather than having to deal with them after they have occurred. Machines operate at 100% of their capacities thereby increasing productivity”, explains Aleksandar Maksimovic, in charge of Maintenance & Services at Actemium. A production shutdown following a fault directly impacts on maintenance costs as well as on production quality and staff organisation. Smart maintenance has the additional advantage of being able to work with few spare parts in stock. As the maintenance operation can be predicted, there is no longer any reason to buy a spare part before it needs to be replaced?

Smart maintenance and smart industry: two closely linked concepts

Smart maintenance is therefore a technological revolution targeting one aspect of maintenance, namely predictive maintenance, which can be used to design smarter production lines. “This is where we see the link between smart maintenance and smart industry. Smart industry involves designing smarter production lines so that a product is manufactured in a more relevant and optimised way, without production shutdowns or faults. These new-generation production lines incorporate smart systems to improve their maintenance. With smart maintenance, existing production lines can also be made smarter. The whole advantage of Actemium for a client is its capacity to integrate in its activities design and maintenance professions with bridges between the two”, explains Aleksandar Maksimovic.

Smart maintenance uses “sensors and new-generation actuators. They are getting smarter, incorporating in their design rules enabling them to react and communicate complex information to the systems of which they are part”, adds Aleksandar Maksimovic. “Using this information and predictive software for ‘big data type’ data analysis, it is now possible to stabilise production before optimising it. A Manufacturing Execution System (MES), with which Actemium has extensive expertise, can then process all these data.”

Augmented reality and non-destructive testing: the other smart maintenance tools

Standard maintenance computer software, such as a Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), are used to monitor all equipment in a plant and to provide traceability for all performed operations. Such software can be more and more operated from mobile devices: rather than having to be seated in front of a screen in an office to see what occurs, the operator receives the information directly on a mobile phone or a tablet, and even on augmented reality glasses today. “In this way, we can eliminate part of what is called non-value added time (NVAT).”

Other preventive maintenance tools used by Actemium minimise shutdowns, such as non-destructive testing (ultrasound detection, X-ray inspection, vibration analysis, thermography, etc.).

“Design, build and maintain are the expertise of Actemium that is acting on the overall life cycle of a production asset. Today, we integrate all the new technologies and innovations that appear on the market: predictive software or applications package like MES, Internet Of Things, among others”, concluded Aleksandar Maksimovic.