Maintenance of the Future: Moving From Preventive, Predictive to Collaborative

A total preventive and predictive maintenance program is absolutely essential to an efficient, reliable and safe production process. However, no matter how well-oiled and designed your preventive and predictive maintenance program is, every now and then, Murphy’s Law reminds us that things can go wrong.

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With today's growing desire for greater productivity and efficiency, manufacturing processes and equipment are being subjected to increased demands for additional capacity, testing accepted limitations. A total preventive and predictive maintenance program is absolutely essential to an efficient, reliable and safe production process. However, no matter how well-oiled and designed your preventive and predictive maintenance program is, every now and then, Murphy’s Law reminds us that things can go wrong. And when something does go wrong, the ability to prepare for, detect, respond and recover from any situation or emergency regardless of time, distance or network is mission critical. In this article, I discuss why organizations should embed collaboration into the DNA of maintenance; service and support workflows and the benefits of embracing and deploying video solutions outside of conference rooms.

Leading organizations invest in Collaboration Technology

Leading companies from various industries are deploying enterprise-grade collaboration solutions outside of boardroom and meeting rooms to reduce the risks affecting manufacturing operations, production quality, people safety or even business continuity. Suppliers and customers also leverage the technology to meet face-to-face during the development cycle, minimizing misunderstandings and the need for rework regardless of distance. This trend is noticeable in many industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Consumer Packaged Goods, Energy and Utilities, Hi-Technology, Industrial Equipment, Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, Mining, Oil and Gas, Textile and Fashion and Transportation.

With collaboration technology, teams can meet face-to-face anywhere, in any environment they choose: on a factory floor, in an R&D lab, in a conference room, or on the road. The truth is two-thirds of R&D spending in the U.S. goes to manufacturing. In other countries, the percentage is even higher: 87 percent for Japan and China; 89 percent for Germany and South Korea. As spending on manufacturing has increased, product design and manufacturing processes have grown increasingly complex. More specific expertise is required, which leads to a need for collaboration technology.

This level of on-demand, real-time collaboration promotes manufacturing innovation while streamlining design and production processes so all of your teams work together, better.

Preventive and Predictive Maintenance

A Preventive and Predictive Maintenance program (PPM) involves regular and systematic application of engineering knowledge and maintenance attention to equipment and facilities to ensure their proper functionality and to reduce their rate of deterioration. It also means regular examination, inspection, lubrication, testing and adjustments of equipment. PPM provides the framework for all planned maintenance activity, including the generation of planned work orders to correct potential problems identified by inspection. Properly developed PPM programs are engineered efforts, which optimize the relationship between equipment ownership and operating profits by balancing cost of maintenance with cost of equipment failure and associated production losses.

For companies time is money. Delays in equipment maintenance issues or production line problems can seriously impact the bottom line. If the most skilled engineer is located in New York or Paris and the most important machinery is in Russia, Brazil, India or China, costs mount quickly when decisions are delayed. Typically, the experts would drive or board a plane to go and try to solve the problem, causing further delays and incurring expensive travel costs. Thanks to new immersive, group, desktop and mobile collaboration solutions, experts do not have to leave their workplace saving previous time and money.

Collaboration-enabled Maintenance, Service and Support

Collaboration solutions help organizations enhance maintenance training, improve, field inspections, speed acceptance reviews and repairs whether on-site or in the field. Mobile video collaboration solutions, in particular, extend the power of human collaboration to workers who need it the most, whether be teams on the oil rigs, manufacturing floor, repair workshops, aircraft hangars, mines and emergency response sites. Operations, service, and maintenance teams can find and interact with remote specialists, using communications and collaboration tools to immediately resolve issues, make decisions or monitor situations. On-location workers can use wireless carts, computers, tablets, mobile devices to enable immediate voice, video and content collaboration in full HD quality. They can use the rear camera on smartphones or tablets or USB scopes connected to a PC to provide a better “view” of the problem to subject-matter experts located at headquarters. From their desks, experts can remotely share and annotate on any digital and non-digital content (Building Blueprints, Electrical Diagrams, Repair Manuals, Live Product Images, Maps…) to help with troubleshooting or equipment repair at a distance. By integrating video collaboration into your maintenance, service and support workflows, here are the benefits you can expect:

  • Higher production and product quality, fewer rejects
  • Increased equipment uptime due to less failures and faster repairs
  • Augmented productivity through better processes and faster decision making
  • Improved resource utilization, leverage of internal experts
  • Better work control and spare parts control/minimum inventory
  • Enhanced project visibility and communications
  • Fast and easy collaboration for product development
  • Reduced number of major and repetitive costly repairs
  • Decreased emergencies, breakdowns and excessive equipment damage
  • Slashed travel costs and decreased carbon footprint

Conclusion

As a result of globalization, critical manufacturing resources are no longer located in the same building or country. Thanks to collaboration solutions, organizations are better equipped to defy distance and move up to collaborative maintenance, service and support.  The benefits of video-enabled maintenance, service and support are direct and substantial ranging from high product quality, long machine life, avoidance of work stoppage, high safety, to high morale and fewer frustrations. By enabling immediate knowledge sharing, collaboration technology fosters teamwork and shortens decision making across the entire value chain. So, what are you waiting for?

Marc-Alexis Rémond is Global Senior Director, Industry Solutions & Market Development at Polycom

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