The 20/20 on Machine Vision
We look at machine vision: what it is, how it functions in the future-facing industrial environment, and whether it’s right for your business.
Here, in the second of a three-part series, we take a look at value of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is the “brain” that takes the strain out of running maintenance in a manufacturing business.
If you’re a manufacturer and you don’t use a CMMS, it’s worth thinking about. In a nutshell, it centralizes your maintenance data and records. You use this database of information to regulate your maintenance systems, manage inventory and assets, track work orders, safety records, and more. The database also underpins your smart manufacturing strategy, which we discussed in the previous article.
As part of the “central nervous system” of your business operation, CMMS offers many measurable benefits over processes based on spreadsheets or paperwork: it promotes greater accuracy, increased uptime, more efficient asset management, and better operational resilience overall, as well as ensuring lower overheads. “Regardless of how well you’re doing it now,” says Rob Veal, head of sales and marketing at Facteon, “computerized maintenance management is the amplifier.”
Connectivity via CMMS yields insights on past performance, produces real-time knowledge, and prepares you for the future. It’s also the baseline enabler for predictive maintenance.
Businesses that fail to gather and utilize data from their operational systems will generally find themselves on the back foot, reacting rather than predicting. With connectivity to machine data, you move into predictive/preventative mode, in which you can keep a close eye on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). For a start, you can begin running conditional maintenance scheduling.
“Instead of just making good decisions about how often or when to plan preventative maintenance,” explains Rob, “you collect data out of the machines and sensors that tells you what’s happening. So, if a gearbox runs too hot, or there’s vibration in a motor, or a mechanism is drawing too much current, that can indicate a potential upcoming failure.”
In reactive mode, there’s a risk of overlooking threats like these, allowing them to develop into breakdowns and unplanned downtime, which is costly. With CMMS, however, your system can issue an automated work order, and synchronize it with other maintenance needs. This enables you to consolidate planned downtime. “To give an example,” explains Rob, “if you need to bring contractors in, the most cost-effective and efficient scenario is to have them come in once to complete three jobs, rather than three times to tackle one job at a time.”
“Using data insights,” adds Rob, “you can start applying artificial intelligence and see further into the future, fine-tuning maintenance costs. This enables you to make better use of your planned downtime, and then ultimately minimize planned downtime as well.” This means increased uptime, lower maintenance costs, and less stress.
“For example, one of our customers had spent tens of thousands of dollars flying experts in to look at a line that was running slow. They thought it was a machine issue, however it turned out to be a lack of raw material infeed, and the machine was running slow as it was programmed to do in such circumstances. Remote access and data access to the line would have diagnosed the problem instantly; they could then have increased the raw infeed, bringing the machine up to speed and saving them an awful lot of concern, productivity and money.”
The predictive approach—fix it before it breaks—will also prolong the lifespan of your equipment.
At the most basic level, CMMS does away with paperwork. Online connectivity is far more efficient than pushing paper dockets around and manual data entry, with its wide error margin.
More pertinently, CMMS enables you to run your business efficiently and effectively. It tells you, for instance, what assets (and in what quantities) you have on site. This might sound obvious—however, research shows that inefficient management of maintenance, repair and operations can result in a 10–30% inventory overspend.
“Knowing exactly what you have on site leads to having just enough of the right parts for the right jobs,” points out Rob, “rather than having cashflow tied up in stock or spare parts that might not be needed for six months. You’re streamlining the procurement process and polishing your supply chain management.”
At Facteon, we see CMMS as a key asset to manufacturers: one that forms the core of smart manufacturing, as well as streamlining in-house processes. As your trusted advisor on CMMS implementation, we can discuss your needs and goals, and point you in the right direction.
“We are experienced in meeting customers at their unique point on the journey toward AI maturity,” says Rob. “We might be using blue-sky thinking to plan CMMS into a brand-new system, or we could be looking for ways to retrofit sensors into an existing setup. At other times we’ll start by asking, ‘How do we get the data out of existing machines and onto a network to get the process rolling?’”
Our customers naturally want to see proof before making an investment, and so we take the longer-term approach of iterative change. “We aim to manage customers’ expectations,” says Rob, “and we explore the real benefits of implementing computerized maintenance management or OEE tools. We choose the areas in the business that could benefit the most, the soonest, and then we prove—and prove again—that it’s the right thing to do. We find that creates confidence in going forward.”
Speak with one of our consultants to find out how your business could benefit from smart manufacturing no matter where you’re at in your AI journey. Contact Facteon via our contact page.