Digital solutions for industrial maintenance give us additional opportunities to develop and streamline maintenance in industrial production. C2U has looked at the possibilities of how digitalisation can be integrated in a context that, together with the TPM concept, can further improve production.

“Industry 4.0” and “4th Industrial Revolution” are terms that are often labeled as if they were the same thing, but it is a misunderstanding. Industry 4.0 is an industrial and national project started by the German government and three national industry organizations in 2011. The fourth industrial revolution is an expression of the great boost in digitalisation for society as a whole.

We can not wait for “project Industry 4.0” to be completed, but we must already now look at the opportunities that today’s digitalisation can provide for maintenance development and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) “, says senior consultant Rolf Ohlsson at C2U.

Digitization does not change the structure and the development model that exists within TPM. A basic maintenance must always be built up with order and order, structure, organization, tools, documentation, plant register, work order system, maintenance management, etc.

Examples of existing digital solutions for maintenance support are; maintenance systems, documentation / backup systems, condition checks with decision support (predictive), production monitoring systems, visual-digital planning systems and mobile reading / writing tablets.

“It is digitalisation that must be adapted to the business and not vice versa,” says Ohlsson and continues: “Before we digitize existing workflows and processes, we must know what requirements are placed on them. It is also important to improve existing working methods before they are digitized, otherwise there is a great risk that today’s problems and shortcomings will persist or worsen during digitization.

“We must ensure that digitalisation does not jeopardize basic principles such as visualization / transparency, visible leadership, ownership of the process, short lead times, respect for the individual and learning. Digitization will streamline our working methods and how we conduct maintenance, but not at the expense of the principles within Lean / TPM. That is why we must develop a strategy before we digitize, he says.

Digital systems for monitoring and condition checks of machine equipment have been used in the industry for decades. The big new improvements are: Systems and components become cheaper, better, easier to install, maintain and more robust. Thus, the threshold for choosing these solutions is now lower.
With new technology, condition checks can also be connected over longer distances directly to the machine tool builder for data collection, analysis and guidance.

New standards (RAMI 4.0 for Industry 4.0) and cheaper technology will help the industry’s digitalisation accelerate and contribute to further improvements in safety, quality, delivery stability and increased employee engagement.
“When digitalisation goes hand in hand with Lean / TPM, it will improve the competitiveness of the Scandinavian industry,” says Ohlsson.

What opportunities do you see for maintenance as a result of this development?

– Look at the maintenance of cars as an example. The first thing that was removed in the maintenance process were the manual service books. The service report was sent from the car to a central database. The next step in the development is that the maintenance information is also / or stored in the car. When the information follows the car, the service personnel together with the car’s condition data receive more secure and more complete information to perform the maintenance.

This will also be applied in industrial maintenance. Condition data is stored in the component / equipment itself and “notifies” when it is time for maintenance. In order to fully benefit from all this information, it must be gathered through networks for systems for analysis, exchange of experience and decision support.This is i.a. part of Industry 4.0, to create standards for how this communication should take place and develop new technology for faster and more robust industrial data transfer.

There are also similar initiatives for new standards and new technology in the USA and Asia. We can only hope that these standardization initiatives are now coordinated, he says. Buying technology digitization is easy. What is more demanding is to get new technology to harmonize with employees, managers, methods and machines. Therefore, before purchasing, you must plan and adapt both new technology and existing process so that the investment gives the desired effect.

Decide not to apply new technology without first creating the necessary conditions through good planning and structuring, says Ohlsson.