Is The Maintenance 4.0 Dream Dead?

Are the goals of ‘Maintenance 4.0’ achievable or a pipe dream? We believe the former (and discuss how to achieve these goals). We’re currently in the midst of Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution. This era is defined by growing automation and data exchange in industrial technologies. Some of the tools that are now at our disposal include:

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Wireless sensors
  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality
  • Machine learning

However, with all of these advancements within our grasp, many organisations still struggle to bring this vision of optimised efficiency and profitability into reality. Why is that?

The answer lies with Maintenance 4.0 and some of the common challenges that organisations experience when trying to catch up to the current era of manufacturing.

What is Maintenance 4.0?

Maintenance 4.0 refers to our ability to outsource tasks that used to be performed by humans for the past several decades to machine-assisted, digital technologies. Enabling an all-encompassing view of operations, collecting and analysing data in a strategic way, and increasing equipment reliability / uptime are key facets of Maintenance 4.0.  This shift to a digital, automated mode of operation helps reduce inefficiencies, prevent costly errors, and maximise the value that assets deliver for their company.

How Maintenance 4.0 is Transforming Manufacturing

In the past, trained specialists had to physically inspect machinery. They’d collect information about its behaviour from readings on the pumps, motors, and gearboxes etc. One by one.

Today, that information can be collected remotely via wireless sensors in bulk. These devices are connected to the cloud and the data analysed using artificial intelligence. Add to that some machine learning and you’ve got yourself a pretty smart solution. The result of which is 24/7 monitoring of asset performance, detection of abnormal behaviour, and prescriptive service advice, all performed autonomously.

In this way, the data now comes to the maintenance / operations worker, with far greater regularity and reliability. Plus it allows the organisation to make rational, informed decisions to avoid, and resolve problems. Oh, and of course predict issues well ahead of traditional maintenance methods.

Why is it Not Ubiquitous?

Maintenance 4.0 promises to deliver streamlined operations, and processes optimised for productivity (and profitability). However there are challenges to implementing elements to their full extent.

To start with, the sheer number of options for organisations is overwhelming It’s hard to know where to start and how to choose between the plethora of new technologies. The IIoT ecosystem evolves on a daily basis. Another obstacle that stands in the way of Maintenance 4.0 is the failure of organisations to adopt (and follow) a cohesive strategy from the outset. Bringing the entire operation into alignment, making information accessible to all stakeholders, and supporting seamless interaction between the various systems and department isn’t done overnight.

Often a company over-invests in unproven technology that doesn’t pan out (and doesn’t play well with their existing technologies). The resulting disappointment leads to disillusionment. Businesses then conclude that automation and digitally assisted approaches are nothing more than hype. A return to familiar, traditional ways of doing things follows and compounds productivity / financial losses. Not to mention a loss of a valuable competitive edge over other organisations.

Don’t let the IIoT dream become a nightmare. With the right strategy and approach you can stay the course and achieve the desired outcomes.

How to Make Maintenance 4.0 Work for You

Your organisation can benefit by making the choice to actively adopt not just the practices of Maintenance 4.0 but also the prevailing spirit. This means taking a holistic view of your operations and embracing an approach to maintenance that is proactive rather than reactive.

To level up your maintenance maturity, here are some key points to remember:

  • Update on a step-by-step basis To avoid the confusion and disappointment that follows a rapid overhaul of your systems, take a steady, incremental approach to adopting new technologies. Eliminate outdated systems while maintaining the ones that are still relevant and useful. Keep an eye out for opportunities to advance and enhance what already works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… Just update it.
  • Upgrade your practices alongside your technology Operations aren’t just run by equipment, they’re run by people, and as you evolve, so should your workforce. Make it a point to regularly review your company’s best practices and offer ongoing training so that your workers are informed and empowered to make the best use of your technology stack.
  • Integration Capabilities Are Key Data integration is fundamental to the success of Maintenance 4.0. As an organisation, your goal should be to create a data ecosystem that works in harmony across the entire operation and allows for simple and fluid communication, not a patchwork of separate parts and technologies, each with their own idiosyncrasies.
  • Choose your vendors wisely Partnering with the right providers is key to making a successful transition to Maintenance 4.0. Look for vendors who understand your operation and can offer services that support your current setup. Look for those willing to work with you in moving towards to the next stage of efficiency.

How MOVUS can help

Our mission is to create tools that integrate seamlessly with your equipment, and systems. Harness the incredible power of data and use it to make the Maintenance 4.0 dream a reality for your operations and your bottom line. Try our platform for free –

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