Plants are the artery of manufacturing companies. In view of increasing demands on productivity, cost efficiency and sustainability, companies must put their existing plant management systems to the test. Augmented reality (AR) is one way to utilize equipment for optimal value.
In industry, plant management describes concepts and processes for making optimum use of plants throughout their entire life cycle – from planning to procurement, commissioning and maintenance until decommissioning. The goal is to get maximum value from the investment made.
When it comes to asset management, manufacturers aim to organize the commissioning and maintenance of their sold assets at the customer’s site in the best possible way in order to reduce costs for service calls and increase customer confidence.
Overall asset effectiveness (GAE) is the most important metric in asset management. Based on one hundred percent availability, a GAE is determined after deducting various sources of loss such as holidays or production-related downtime. It is a percentage of the theoretically possible total output.
The added value of the key figure is disputed among production managers. Since the individual plant situation is taken into account, cross-company, industry-wide comparability is not possible. There is also no agreement on the definition of shutdowns. As difficult as GAE is to evaluate, it is widely established as a baseline metric.
Global competition is increasing the pressure on industrial companies: If they want to keep up with the emerging competition from Asia and low-wage countries, they have to cut their costs. This can only succeed if companies digitize their production halls and use the latest technologies in the spirit of Industry 4.0.
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Asset management is benefiting from digitization to a particularly high degree. This is because, in addition to high procurement costs, companies must regularly budget for maintenance and servicing. If downtime occurs, additional costs are incurred. Just a few minutes here can be accompanied by several thousand euros and follow-up costs. In view of this, also Smart Maintenance applications are becoming increasingly important.
In the future, equipment will be equipped with sensors and software as a matter of course, so that companies can improve their service life and performance with the latest technology. Digital support here goes beyond intelligent maintenance, in which machines anticipate malfunctions.
Ideally, companies use a central asset management platform that can be used from any location to map all processes related to operation, maintenance and repair. Not only are the measured values on machines recorded digitally, but communication and work organization are also digitally supported and optimized.
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Previously information about plants is still partly stored in physical folders, partly in network folders. If a technician at a machine finds that he is missing information, he has to open his laptop, hope for a stable Internet connection and click through the directories. In the worst case, a new service call becomes necessary because it requires information from company headquarters.
Asset management platforms shortcut this inefficient process. For each plant, a digital file is created in which all information is graphically presented and can be retrieved – from a tablet, smartphone and Smart Glasses as well as from the stationary computer at the company headquarters. For manufacturers and for operators. So also Remote maintenance more and more efficient.
When was the equipment last serviced? Who is the right contact person at the manufacturer? Which parts were changed? To get answers to these questions, technicians from manufacturing companies no longer have to move away from the plant. A short interruption of work is enough and the information is found.
Based on scheduled maintenance and repair jobs, assets are ideally assigned a status so that field managers can easily prioritize technician assignments.
Which technician can take over the emergency because he is close to the appointment anyway? What tools are needed for the repair? Modern plant management provides support for employees in personnel planning just as it does for the colleagues carrying out the work on site.
Technicians now only need one application through which they can view their mission route, prepare for appointments, and access documents and instructions while on the job. By storing step-by-step instructions in the platform, manufacturers can enable inexperienced service technicians to complete assignments on their own sooner. Customers are also able to make some repairs without outside assistance.
Combined with Head Mounted Displays employees can call on remote support via the platform if they are unable to make repairs on their own. Together with colleagues or experts from manufacturers, errors can be found in a fraction of the time.
At Field Service Management technicians can see where employees are and their work progress in real time via asset management platforms. In this way, efficiency brakes can be identified and targeted measures for process acceleration can be developed.
The handling of complex industrial plants requires specialist knowledge. During commissioning, an engineer from the manufacturer will usually train your employees, who will then carry the knowledge into the company as multipliers. This approach is associated with high effort on the part of the manufacturer and high costs on the part of the customer.
Digital asset management eliminates the need for on-site training in many cases. For smooth commissioning, technicians can be guided remotely via AR applications. The manufacturer’s expert can take the employee’s perspective via the smart glasses and guide him step by step through the first steps.
In addition, manufacturers can store video tutorials and AR guides on the asset management platform for typical problems or routine tasks. Instead of receiving guidance via live video telephony, employees can then be assisted by recorded instructions. Thanks to AR functions, hand movements are clearly indicated by arrows in the user’s field of vision, so that work can be carried out safely and quickly.
The market for asset management software is confusing. There are many providers, but only a few convince in usability, compatibility and price-performance ratio. Only a few offer AR functionalities. One of the leading companies in the field is Workheld. The platform offers many of the described functions and can score with intuitive usability.
One advantage of the platform is that companies can book individual modules and gradually transform their processes in this way. After all, the introduction of new software alone does not guarantee greater efficiency. Employees must support the change: Communication and work processes are changing fundamentally. The changeover is often not without resistance and takes time before employees notice the positive effects on their daily work.
Do you have questions about asset management? We will be happy to advise you!
Efficient asset management is key if companies want to reduce the cost of their production. Digital technologies can bring the desired improvements. As a rule, however, various different applications are currently combined in order to map all processes in the life cycle of a plant. The risk of misunderstandings, loss of information and efficiency increases with each additional interface.
The future belongs to plant management platforms: They bundle all communication and work processes related to the commissioning, operation and maintenance of production plants and enable companies in the leading industrial nations to keep up with the competition in terms of costs and quality.
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