Making Manufacturing Smart: Predictive Maintenance

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A growing middle-class population, higher spending power and per capita income and the increasing share of young professionals in India today have given way to initiatives like Make in India that aims at increasing the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country’s GDP. Manufacturing is growing at an astounding rate, and with the government’s support along with both, domestic and foreign investments, predictions state that India is on its way to becoming the fifth largest manufacturing hub in the world. Many global companies and MNCs have set up their operational centers here. As manufacturing looks to play a larger role in our economy, technology advancement and tech intervention in this sector will continue to be a great opportunity for the entire IT industry.

Challenges in the manufacturing sector

The goal of every manufacturing organization is the same: to maximize machine efficiency. This is by no means easy, especially because of the rate at which the demands for goods is rising. This also means that machines producing these goods will have to be serviced periodically, as poor maintenance strategies single handedly decrease efficiency. The biggest challenge faced by the manufacturing industry is to provide seamless, consistent performance, because routine failures and downtime are a very real threat to the overall performance. When you have machines that perform repetitive tasks every single day, this is bound to happen. Sometimes, maximum utilization of machine parts (to the extent till when they break off!) may lead to catastrophic, even permanent damage and lead on to a longer downtime. Then, of course, there are the failures that we don’t see coming and the unplanned downtimes. If you change parts frequently, that’s an additional overhead cost, and may cause unnecessary changes to a daily routine. Often, companies may end up with a spare parts surplus, which ultimately impacts the business’s bottom line, and not in a good way. The real question is, can there be something that helps professionals gauge how and when they should get machines serviced?

Prevention is better that cure: Predictive Maintenance

The answer is yes. Enter Predictive Maintenance!  but the use of deep learning technology is leading towards A new age method backed by deep learning and advanced technology, the purpose of predictive maintenance is to safeguard the health of machines and make sure they are not being overused. It aims at avoiding unplanned downtime and minimizing planned downtime. We are now living in the fourth industrial revolution, and it is time for manufacturers to shift from ‘Why fix something that is not broken’ to ‘Let’s prevent it from breaking down in the first place.’ In essence, the requirement of the industry is to move from a reactive chain of thought to an anticipated one, and that is exactly what predictive maintenance offers.

Imagine how much easier life would be if you knew beforehand which machine part needed servicing. Instead of breaking open the entire machine (which by this time, in all probability has stopped working) and figuring out where the problem lies and ordering spare parts because you didn’t know which part would need replacing, you could just keep the required part ready. So much time, energy and money saved! This also means that your downtime is planned, rather, it’s optimized. Undertaking predictive maintenance regularly also means that equipment life increases significantly because it is well taken care of. Moreover, one of the greatest advantages predictive learning offers is a boost in employee productivity since it lowers crucial callouts, saves time and in turn, reduces stress. You are happy. Your machines are well serviced. Your team is at peace. Works like a charm, right?


Tech intervention as the base of Predictive Maintenance

This sounds pretty awesome, but it’s not that easy to implement. Predictive maintenance is far from being only a plug and play solution; it is so much more. Without technologies like IoT, data analysis and deep learning, predictive maintenance cannot function. There are hundreds of layers of data that need to be collected over time to keep this up and running, because only properly analyzed data from critical equipment sensors, ERP systems and computerized maintenance management systems can give you an accurate Human to Machine (H2M) interaction. Different organizations and machines may also be at different stages of maturity, but all of them need to be monitored constantly. IoT is the biggest piece of this puzzle because it translated physical actions from machines to digital signals that are analyzed along with this data. It is thus, the key to a successful production network. Then come predictive algorithms and business intelligence tools that read this data, trigger reaction and close the digital-to-physical loop. Deep neural networks are also used in this approach to learn from data sequences and extract valuable insights.

All of this being put into place together provides you with your predictive maintenance strategy, which is then implemented by your organization’s task force. The true impact of these strategies is not immediate, but most definitely measurable. It is still in the early stages of development right now as organizations begin to realize the value that technological disruptions can bring about. Much like a good wine, predictive maintenance is also sure to get better with time. Here’s raising a glass to the future!


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