Maintenance ensures smooth production operation. Since plants and machines in industry are exposed to high loads, repair is part of the normal life cycle of machines in addition to maintenance. We clarify what is meant by repair, how the discipline differentiates itself from others, and introduce new methods and processes that benefit companies and service technicians alike.
A definition of the term maintenance can be found in the DIN standard 31051 on Maintenance . Accordingly, repair involves measures that restore a unit under consideration to its functional condition.
Even when machines are used as intended, signs of wear can occur over the years. In addition to material fatigue and wear, corrosion and weather-related influences can make repair work necessary. Service technicians then replace individual components or entire plant sections or repair any damage that has occurred.
Repair work is usually carried out as part of maintenance. After completion of the work, the safe function of the plant is guaranteed again. The measures are documented in the maintenance log and are recorded in the Maintenance plan considered.
The replacement of components or the updating of software to improve functioning machines does not fall within the scope of repair, but is referred to as modernizing maintenance.
The terms maintenance, repair and servicing are not always used distinctly, and they all have the same purpose: to ensure the functioning of machinery and equipment over as long a service life as possible so that companies avoid unnecessary costs for repairs and downtime. However, each of the three terms means different things.
Maintenance is the generic term for all measures that ensure the maintenance and restoration of the functionality of machines. The term is defined in DIN standard 31051 and thus includes inspection, maintenance and repair. The mere recording of the actual condition of a machine thus falls just as much within the scope of maintenance as the repair of detected defects.
Repair, as a sub-discipline of maintenance, deals exclusively with the repair of damage or the replacement of components to restore the safe functioning of machinery and equipment.
The difference between Maintenance In practice, the distinction between maintenance and repair is often blurred: maintenance involves the regular inspection of equipment and the restoration of the target condition. Signs of wear and tear are repaired, cleaning is carried out. This is intended to increase the service life of individual parts and the overall system. Maintenance has a preventive character. This is gaining further importance since sensors and software have found their way into production halls and machines themselves can indicate when malfunctions are imminent and maintenance appears necessary, this process is also referred to as Smart Maintenance designates.
Repair follows maintenance as needed. If defective components are discovered during the inspection that need to be replaced, the replacement is a repair measure.
Cost pressure in industry also affects maintenance. In order to organize maintenance measures as efficiently as possible, more and more companies are using digital tools and platforms.
Information that was previously managed in a variety of digital applications and via paper documents can now be shared between companies in maintenance software centrally. Logbook, contact and plant information, instructions and checklists – all the processes that service technicians need in their day-to-day work and for repairs can be accessed via smartphone and tablet, regardless of location.
One of the latest technological developments in maintenance: the use of augmented reality as a complement to digital applications for clear communication, fewer errors, faster processes. The use cases of augmented reality in maintenance are manifold. Two use cases where AR adds the most value are. Remote Support and workflow automation.
Repairs to industrial equipment can be complex and require specialized knowledge. Previously, when service technicians needed assistance from experienced colleagues during an exchange, they were limited to phone calls or video calls from their smartphones.
With Smart Glasses they can contact colleagues via remote software and share their field of view. Remotely, the experts guide the technician on site through the next steps of the repair. In addition, they can add markers to the field of view and send videos, images and documents. The technician can open them by voice command without moving away from the machine.
If problems occurred during repairs in the past, customer appointments usually had to be made again in order to send specialized staff or obtain information. Today, thanks to AR support, the repair can be completed with minimal delay.
Many companies still work with paper checklists in which they have technicians document maintenance and repair work. Later, the information must be transferred to digital applications. The process becomes more efficient with apps for maintenance and repair: Technicians can carry checklists, instructions and much more information with them at all times on a tablet, head-mounted tablet or data glasses.
In order to minimize errors and ensure the safe execution of repair measures, apps are particularly useful for workflow automation an. Step-by-step instructions for various repair procedures can be defined in them. If technicians use data glasses, they can use voice commands to move through instructions without interrupting their work. If individual steps are unclear to them, integrated video or AR simulations can help. Especially in the case of complex and infrequent repairs, the applications massively speed up the processes – while maintaining the same quality of workmanship.
Learn more about workflow automation here.
How maintenance measures are coordinated and documented has changed fundamentally in recent years. And anyone who has observed developments in recent years knows that the digital transformation will ensure that it continues to change in the future.
In many companies, digital applications are part of everyday work in maintenance. But the first integrated digital processes are fully exploiting the potential of digitization. Because: the fewer interfaces, the higher the efficiency. And this is becoming increasingly important in globalized economic structures.
Augmented reality is still a relatively new technology in the industry. All the more reason for companies to gain a head start by optimizing their processes with the help of AR. One of the strengths of the technology is that it can be integrated into existing processes without major change projects and creates measurable added value after only a short time.
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