The digital transformation is also in full swing in the industrial sector. Maintenance is also changing. In the face of increasing cost pressure, leading companies are increasingly turning to digital systems to organize processes efficiently and securely and to optimize the efficiency of machines. What tasks does professional maintenance involve, how does the discipline differentiate itself from similar fields of activity, and what new technologies can companies use to achieve cost advantages? An overview.
The term maintenance is not uniformly defined. The DIN standard on maintenance describes as maintenance all measures that serve to maintain the target condition of a machine or system. The intervals at which maintenance is to be carried out depend on the manufacturer’s specifications, legal requirements, machine specifications and practical experience.
In some cases, a distinction is made between different types of maintenance.
However, the term maintenance is not used correctly here and should be replaced by servicing. Corrective maintenance is strictly speaking repair, preventive maintenance is actual maintenance in the sense of care measures to maintain the functionality of a machine, predictive maintenance or Smart Maintenance refers to the maintenance time, which in this case is determined automatically by software.
In order to maintain machines and systems, service technicians carry out various activities: Cleaning components, adjusting elements, refilling operating materials and lubricating threads are typical maintenance activities.
Maintenance: The term Maintenance is defined in DIN standard 31051. Accordingly, inspection, maintenance, repair and improvement of machines are sub-areas of maintenance.
InspectionIt describes all activities that record the actual condition of machines. No work is performed on the equipment during an inspection.
Maintenance: It includes activities that restore or continue to ensure the target condition of machines. For this purpose, service technicians perform maintenance and cleaning work, adjustments and replacements.
RepairIf defects or major wear are discovered during maintenance, a repair will be carried out. repair of machines or entire plants is necessary. Repairs are carried out and components replaced.
Maintenance is essential for business reasons: It ensures the longest possible, trouble-free service life of machines and systems and thus optimum value creation from the investment. Unplanned downtime and high repair costs can be avoided thanks to regular maintenance.
At the same time, maintenance is necessary to ensure the safety of employees and to meet legal requirements, for example from the industrial safety ordinance, from the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health.
Last but not least, proof that the prescribed maintenance intervals have been adhered to and that inspections have been carried out regularly is important in order to make use of warranties or avert liability claims.
Digital systems are transforming industry and also maintenance. Companies are looking for ways to minimize the cost factor of maintenance and are networking individual applications to create integrated communication and platforms for the Workflow Management .
While scheduling is still coordinated via Excel spreadsheets in some companies, more and more businesses are moving to cloud platforms that can be accessed from any device and offer more functionality than simple spreadsheets.
Maintenance plans as a central tool for work organization are less and less often kept on paper and are increasingly replaced by digital documents. In many companies, technicians still document their on-site inspection results on paper and later transfer them to digital applications. But here, too, the industry is in a state of flux: with the rapid spread of tablets and Smart Glasses more and more companies are digitally capturing results directly from the customer.
The majority of companies require a handful of different applications for the process organization of maintenance. However, the trend is toward centralization. Where previously many different generic applications were used, integrated Maintenance software that bundles communication, planning, execution, documentation and analysis.
Augemented Reality (AR) is one of the most disruptive developments in maintenance. It optimizes already existing digital processes, ensures acceleration and quality assurance. How AR improves the maintenance?
Instead of dealing with web applications or paper lists, with Workflow Automation Apps technicians have only one digital tool to guide them through their daily work, from mission preparation to documentation. Logbook, tool list, inspection records – one app is enough to map all processes.
The AR functions of the Workflow Automation applications simplify maintenance activities in the plant. Because they can be used via data glasses, technicians do not have to interrupt their work to read instructions or fill out checklists. By voice command, they control the app directly on the machine and enter their test results. Depending on how the values turn out, the application displays the next appropriate step.
If the technician determines that a spare part needs to be ordered, the order can be triggered from the app. Sluggish manual ordering processes via the ERP system can be eliminated.
Some maintenance tasks technicians rarely need to perform. Here it can be helpful to have a manual at hand. Especially inexperienced technicians and employees of the machine operator benefit from AR instructions: They get involved Head Mounted Display or a Smart Glass and can have video or AR instructions for typical challenges displayed in the field of view via the maintenance software. Find the right valve? Read the correct measured value? Augemented reality quickly provides clarity with arrows and markers in the field of view, and tutorial videos shorten long searches for problems.
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Sometimes service technicians encounter hurdles during maintenance where the assessment of an experienced colleague is helpful. Whereas companies previously had to pay high prices and accept long waiting times for a new technician to be called in, thanks to data glasses and AR they can now achieve their goal faster and more cheaply. Remote software experts can connect remotely to a technician’s data glasses. While he is at the machine, they see his field of view live and can provide guidance and instruction.
The Global AR Market Report 2021 expects the global AR market to grow by around 30 percent by 2028. In industry, augmented reality will gain massive importance in the coming years. Not least because the return on investment is achieved within a short time.
More and more companies are already integrating data glasses and workflow into their processes to gain cost advantages. They want to gain experience early on to stay one step ahead of the faltering competition. AR in maintenance will not just be a phenomenon among the big players, however. This is because the investment costs are so low that the technology is interesting for companies of all sizes.
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