IoT Blog
IoT Blog

Taking Predictive and Preventative Maintenance to the Next Level

by Remy Marcotorchino, Director of Marketing, Industrial & Infrastructure
There are times when predictive maintenance is simple. If you have one machine, you develop an intimate knowledge of all its quirks and tics. You inherently understand when something is going wrong. But if you have a lot of machines, you no longer have this high degree of familiarity. The bigger the operation and the larger the equipment, the more difficult preventative action becomes. 

But the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) has been a game-changer for companies that create and operate heavy equipment and expensive assets. The IoT makes it relatively simple to monitor and receive alerts from systems equipped with over-the-air (OTA) capabilities. The result is more efficient supply chains, updated procedures and improved repair policies. 

Maintenance technicians tend to cringe when they hear of a generator breakdown in a remote area, or an HVAC malfunction in a skyscraper. Companies need the ability to predict, understand, and ideally, prevent problems before they occur. This proactive approach saves time and money for both manufacturers and operators. Ultimately, this technology transforms machinery into a service that gives you the power to resolve issues before they become true challenges.

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Understanding How the industrial IoT Changes Predictive and Preventative Maintenance 
Preventative maintenance has a rather negative reputation across many industries and sectors. For many, it entails performing tasks based upon statistics and likelihoods, rather than actual facts and hard data. If you have a wind turbine, and statistically, you know there is a high chance of gearbox failure (and 50% of gearboxes do fail within the first five years), you’ll need to dispatch technicians every few years to perform extensive and potentially costly preventative maintenance. This means servicing each and every turbine, regardless of whether it’s truly necessary. This practice is labor-intensive and it lacks cost-effectiveness. 

Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, uses real-time data to analyze performance on a per-machine basis and on a system-wide level. This approach:

  • Allows you to perform maintenance only when necessary;
  • Allows for maintenance when it is most cost-effective to do so; and
  • Allows you to perform maintenance before you see a reduction in performance. 
These traits are inherent to the Internet of Things. The IoT creates a constant stream of information that flows and merges into an insightful data tapestry.

Industrial equipment manufactures can leverage real-time data, alerts, and correlations to pinpoint when any given component will require maintenance. And this all happens long before the item sees reduced productivity levels. The system’s high degree of connectivity allows technicians to establish a maintenance schedule that is both practical and efficient. Companies can balance operational needs with the lifespan and maintenance requirements of various pieces of equipment and machinery. 

But, in a very real way, the IoT elevates preventative maintenance. Intelligent, high-tech systems generate real-time, accurate data sets that give engineers and manufacturers the insight they need to plan effectively. The IoT allows for optimized predictive maintenance in a way that was not previously possible. Read about how Veolia is leveraging IoT technology to ensure its water purification systems are always working seamlessly.

The Right Connections Save Money for Industrial Equipment Manufactures
Heavy equipment may be in the field for upwards of 50 or even 60 years in some cases. In that time, you’ll see breakdowns, software updates and lots of regular maintenance. In the past, technicians had just one option: regular, statistic-based preventative maintenance. That was fine, but as Benjamin Disraeli once said, there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” High winds, a cold snap, human error, or even an errant lightning strike can make all those longevity statistics suddenly and expensively moot. 

And that’s where you’ll find the root of the problem. Performing work after something goes wrong can take 30% longer than it would take to address the issue before a break-down or damage occurs. What’s more, you’ll also spend, on average, 50% more on parts if you take a reactive approach. Yet performing preventative maintenance on the basis of statistics instead of facts isn’t cost-effective either. This results in a scenario where you may replace components long before it’s actually necessary. And at the end of the day, you still can’t prevent all mishaps. 

Enter the IoT. It’s transforming the landscape of predictive and preventative maintenance. You need reliable connections to transmit data from vehicles in your fleet, machinery at various sites and equipment at various points across the globe. New, standardized Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networks are making IoT connections more reliable and less expensive, allowing companies to leverage predictive and preventative maintenance data like never before. 

Industrial equipment manufactures need the IoT. Clients expect it. If your equipment can beam out data that allows for highly-efficient maintenance and the ability to address issues long before they evolve into real problems and guarantee consistent operation, then you are no longer selling “just a machine.” You are providing a technology-based service; one that can generate a continual revenue stream.

And, more importantly, clients will find peace of mind. You connections allow customers to make more confident purchases and provide a better experience to their clients. They’ll proceed knowing they’ll have the tools they need to avoid unnecessary downtime. Start with Sierra to learn more about connecting to the IoT.