Unplanned downtime is a crisis for manufacturers. It’s bad enough that productivity comes to a screeching halt, but when a company can’t meet its commitments to customers due to downtime, it erodes the trust those customer have in that company. IIoT World reports that 82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime in the past three years, and that these periods can cost as much as $260,000 per hour.
The cost of downtime highlights the value of condition-based monitoring in manufacturing. As its name implies, this process collects and analyzes data about equipment conditions to identify potential problems so they can be addressed before escalating into costly downtime. For example, if a motor’s voltage starts to fluctuate outside the normal range, condition-based monitoring would flag it for inspection.
Condition-based monitoring has been around for decades, but Internet of Things solutions enable a variety of additional use cases and benefits. In the process, IoT also elevates condition-based monitoring’s role in enabling Industry 4.0 digital transformation in factories and other manufacturing facilities.
Data Maximizes Productivity and Efficiency
One key benefit of IoT systems is that they involve many types of sensors and thus more data. These additional insights enable manufacturers to migrate away from traditional reactive and proactive maintenance into the realm of predictive maintenance.
To understand the financial and competitive benefits of predictive maintenance, consider the example of an industrial motor that moves vehicles down an assembly line. The motor’s manufacturer set a maintenance schedule for parts and lubricants that errs on the side of caution. By adding IoT sensors for temperature, vibration, voltage, lubricant viscosity and other conditions, the factory now can schedule maintenance only when it’s necessary, rather than when the manufacturer thinks it may be.
As a result, that industrial maintenance mechanic isn’t wasting time or money on unnecessary lubrication intervals or replacing parts that are still working fine. That assembly line stays up and running, which means it’s driving more revenue. And when the line does need to go down, the manufacturer knows far in advance, so it can plan accordingly.
The motor’s IoT data also can be fed into an analytics platform for additional benefits. For example, the factory can save money by having fewer spare parts on hand, because the analytics predict how much to stock versus what the schedule recommends. When it’s time to replace the motor or build a new factory, the manufacturer can use that data to understand the maintenance costs and history of each piece of equipment it has used.
This enables more informed decisions, such as whether a piece of equipment is worth buying again. And if an IoT sensor has tracked the motor’s power consumption over the years, the manufacturer also can calculate whether it’s cost-effective to upgrade to a new, more energy-efficient model.
Assembling the Right Solution
Those are just a few examples of what IoT-powered condition-based monitoring can achieve. They also highlight the importance of choosing a partner that can analyze your business to identify the use cases, navigate the available options and then recommend the right combination of hardware, software and services.
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