In today’s era where disruption is the new normal, digital transformation (DX) has become the most evident means to build agility, drive operational efficiency and engage customers like never before. We are at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution i.e. Industry 4.0, where organizations are realigning their digital priorities and investments across the world. COVID-19 on the other hand has served as a catalyst forcing businesses to accelerate digital transformation.
To survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world, businesses cannot rely on cost cutting alone. They ought to cut costs as a part of their overall digital transformation strategy and digitize processes that yield fast ROI and cost savings. What better way to kick off your DX journey than executing a predictive maintenance project on your critical assets. Undeniably, a logical first step, it will yield a quick ROI by helping you tame costs and get you started on your digital transformation journey.
The Tipping Point
When a manufacturing organization intends to roll out a strategy to address its uptime challenges and optimize its external service opportunities, improving the preventive maintenance capabilities is a great means to start.
According to a report from the US Department of Energy, having a robust predictive maintenance (PdM) program in place can help yield a tenfold increase in ROI, 70% reduction in breakdowns, 35%-45% reduction in downtime and 25%-30% reduction in maintenance related costs.
Unplanned downtime can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour or more. If equipment breaks down unexpectedly, organizations incur a range of costs pertaining to recovery, containment and discovery. Plus, there are costs related to disruptions in production line and supply chain. Having a predictive maintenance program in place plays a pivotal role, since it directly impacts the bottom-line and helps organizations cut costs and keep the revenue flowing.
A survey revealed that manufacturing organizations experience 800-1000 hours downtime annually. For instance, on an average, an automotive manufacturer incurs around $22,000 per minute of every unplanned downtime, which is a staggering $1.3 million per month. Nonetheless, predictive maintenance solutions can reduce the financial impact by 36% and unplanned downtime by 60%.
Whether you are offering services for your own machines/equipment or for the products you sell, predictive maintenance is one of the first and notable areas to help a business realize the value of its digital investments.
Houston, we’ve got this covered!
NASA has implemented a powerful predictive maintenance program for its cooling systems located at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. These systems monitor the performance of cooling towers, air handlers, pumps and fans whilst deriving insights into potential requirement for operating costs and maintenance. In the event of a significant change in status for any piece of equipment, the systems shoot automatic alerts to NASA and analysts for immediate review.
Further, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), predictive maintenance program helped NASA bring down maintenance costs to $7 and $9 per horsepower from $11 and $13 respectively.
From Hype to ROI: What’s in it for me?
For a manufacturer, this means bringing technology transformation across-the-board to facilitate sweeping changes spanning key operational models, equipment maintenance, business models and organizational culture. The way a manufacturer operates and generates profits is undergoing seismic shifts. Meeting customer needs is no longer about products a manufacturer makes and delivers to them, but is also and mainly about providing seamless aftersales services.
Here’s why having a next-gen predictive maintenance system in place as a part of your digital transformation plan is better than just cutting costs:
- It is a common for industrial organizations to maintain their equipment and machineries on the basis of preventive maintenance approaches that include manually inspecting and equipment maintenance carried out at regular intervals of time. To optimize the overall equipment efficiency, organizations are opting for digitized and automated predictive maintenance, which is the ultimate stepping-stone for digital manufacturing or smart factory.
- The digital predictive approach helps to predict and foresee the failures of machines through intelligent calculation of parameters such as ‘mean time to failure’ and ‘end of life’. Whereas, the Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT on the other hand helps collect and merge datasets pertaining to the condition of the equipment such as thermal images, ultrasonic data, acoustic data, and vibration data. Further, big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence deliver predictive insights about the functioning of the equipment including notable patterns of its degradation or inefficiencies.
- So by optimizing the operational efficiency of the equipment, organizations can achieve direct and tangible ROI on their DX investments by eliminating asset downtime, increasing overall quality, and reducing maintenance costs.
- Maintenance requirements can be predicted and planned accordingly. Further, predictive maintenance paves way for efficient maintenance activities from the viewpoint of tools, spares, parts and manpower.
- Improved equipment performance means more energy savings, which again contributes to the bottom line i.e. cost savings. Optimized power consumption not only leads to savings in power and energy costs, but also improves the life of equipment.
Since unscheduled downtime eats up a good chunk of a manufacturing unit’s capacity and production costs as well as time, the rise of predictive maintenance turns quite evident.
The digital transformation of PdM aka the adoption of Maintenance 4.0 concepts employs a wide range of networked and linked sensors as well as devices as a part of the IIoT. Further, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning also play a pivotal role in churning out next-gen predictive maintenance solutions.
Long story short, a digital transformation investment aimed at predictive maintenance not only helps drive a manufacturing plant’s asset utilization, efficiency and productivity, but also helps the organization yield fast digital ROI.