Effective Predictive Maintenance needs strategic automation and human insight

New-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of things (IoT), and predictive analytics are automating processes and augmenting human capabilities. Together, they set the stage for innovations in different sectors. Manufacturing is leveraging Predictive Maintenance (PdM) that takes preventive maintenance several notches higher.

PdM changes the approach from reactive to proactive maintenance, empowering enterprises to anticipate changes in the system and preemptively manage them. In other words, it helps enterprises predict and avoid machine failure and resultant downtimes. These analytics-led predictions optimize maintenance efforts and facilitate frictionless interdependence.

According to Deloitte, PdM increases equipment uptime by 10-20% and reduces overall maintenance costs and maintenance planning time by 5-10% and 20-50% respectively. With a CAGR of 25.2%, the global predictive maintenance market is set to grow from USD 4.0 billion in 2020 to 12.3 billion by 2025. The growth is fueled by the continued demand for reducing maintenance costs and downtime.

In the current Industry 5.0 environment, the role of maintenance has evolved from merely preventing downtimes of individual assets to predicting failures and creating synchrony between people, processes, and technologies. Predictive maintenance plays its part well, though it does bring along certain challenges that necessitate human intervention.

The PdM advantage

As mentioned earlier, predictive maintenance helps eliminate unplanned downtime and related costs. In an IoT-driven world where sensors, devices, systems, etc. are connected, McKinsey believes that the linking of physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion annually in economic value by 2025.

Maximized runtime also means better profits, happier customers, and greater trust. Predictive maintenance can ease logistics by choosing maintenance time slots outside of production hours or at a time when the maintenance personnel is available. It contributes to supply chain resilience, material costs savings, and increased machine lifespan.

However, PdM is only as good as the data it relies upon. Due to IoT technology, data comes from different sources and needs to be duly analyzed before it can be harnessed to make predictions.

The PdM limitations

We need to consider several elements to translate the information PdM provides into positive outcomes. For instance, depending on usage and maintenance history, it may advise you to replace a certain part or component. But this information can lead to further questions. You may need help in deciding which brand and vendor to consider, whether replacement of the component is a good option, or would it make better sense to replace the equipment entirely.

The forecast is often prescriptive and based on statistical models. While optimizing the operational efficiency of a particular line of business, PdM often fails to consider how it impacts other lines. For instance, when it suggests particular equipment is due for maintenance, it may not be able to offer advice as to where the production/processing needs to be shifted when it’s down. The value it offers will therefore be shaped by how decision-makers respond to predictive data.

Data quality and coverage are critical to make predictive maintenance work for the organization. For data to be suitably collected, integrated, interpreted, and transformed, we need dashboards, notification systems, and a bunch of other things to get started. This requires considerable research and planning to go into its implementation for it to start providing the insights we need.

The key lies in the way you respond

Decision-makers typically respond to predictive data with either hypothesis-driven or data-driven responses. The former stems from past business experiences and determines the plan based on a limited scope of response actions. Data-driven responses, on the other hand, aim to find solutions based on real-time business realities and consider several optimization scenarios to determine the way forward.

In contrast to hypothesis-driven decision-making, optimization ensures that all possible paths are explored and evaluated, relevant constraints are taken into consideration, and cross-functional interdependencies are looked into. A workable scenario based on business realities is thus created with no scope for purely intuitive responses.

Despite the analytics-driven insights, predictive maintenance is incomplete without human judgment. Smart decisions come from the ability to visualize the physical and financial outcomes before enforcing them. High-risk situations might arise, and thus they are best left to human discretion.

A predictive maintenance model for Industry 5.0

Manufacturers need clarity on several variables to understand the implications of failure. A false alarm triggered due to inaccurate predictions can result in a lot of unwarranted chaos and anxiety. However, a missed detection might often prove to be a costly error, sometimes resulting in loss of humans and property. Therefore, while understanding variables, they need to first know how often the variable behaviors occur on the factory floor. Strong domain knowledge along with solid data based on previous failures and scenarios is the key to understanding a machine.

Prediction accuracy will improve if we have adequate data on the behavior of machines when they are very close to failure. Only skilled personnel can determine this; some data sets, despite being important, are harder to collect and yet very critical for decision-making.

If we need data on a machine that breaks just once in a year or two, we need to work closely with machine makers who already possess a large pool of relevant data. Alternatively, we may choose to create a digital or a simulation model to create relevant data sets. The most expensive failures are usually the ones we never expect and hence relevant testing for different scenarios should also be considered.

Looking ahead

The way forward into Industry 5.0 is to create a predictive model that uses analytics, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conjunction with human insights.

Manufacturers are now relying on predictive models to facilitate smart manufacturing as they struggle with quality issues more often than machine failures. Unusual temperatures, random vibrations, are all telltale signs that a machine may be in dire need of maintenance. Simple data sets can be a good starting point as we scale up with the right predictive maintenance solution. But, in the end, it’s the human insight that can give predictive maintenance its winning streak.

Predict business success with Trigent

At Trigent, we are helping organizations benefit from Industry 5.0 We help them build value with predictive analytics and rise above maintenance challenges. With the right guidance, we help them foster the man-machine symbiosis to harness new levels of operational efficiencies.

Call us today for a consultation. We’d be happy to help with insights, solutions, and the right approach to predict better business outcomes.

6 Most Popular RPA Use Cases in Manufacturing Industry post-COVID

The role of RPA in manufacturing post pandemic

As markets continue to grapple with challenges posed by the pandemic that shows no signs of receding, organizations are now pinning their hopes on technology with robotic process automation (RPA) that can take care of repetitive routine tasks. RPA ensures tasks that earlier required days and weeks can now be completed in a matter of just a few hours or minutes.

The benefits of RPA use cases in manufacturing industry include better productivity, efficiency, accuracy, less wastage, and greater focus. No wonder almost 80 percent of global corporate executives that participated in the Deloitte LLP survey1 last year agreed to have implemented some form of RPA in their organization while 15% said they planned to do so in the next 3 years.

Expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024, the global RPA software revenue is predicted to touch $1.89 billion in 2021 indicating a whopping 19.5% surge from 2020.

The pandemic has fueled enterprise interest in RPA as Cathy Tornbohm2, distinguished research vice president at Gartner explains, “The decreased dependency on a human workforce for routine, digital processes will be more attractive to end-users not only for cost reduction benefits but also for ensuring their business against future impacts like this pandemic.”

RPA is making great strides in diverse sectors including manufacturing. Applied Materials Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based company, has begun using bots to automate different areas of financial accounting for increasing productivity and plans to have 255 bots to improve workplace processes.

Top 6 RPA use cases benefitting the manufacturing industry

1. Bill of Materials (BOM)

Employees rely on a lot of information when it comes to the development of new products and commodities. They need to have the exact details as to what to purchase and when, the vendors/dealers that need to be contacted for the purchase, and how to go about the purchase.

Surge Transportation leveraged our expertise to create a pricing engine that offers real-time pricing to stakeholders based on a predefined strategy. The strategy can be modified in the application custom-built for them. RPA facilitates the set up of automatic alerts for changes in the system, thus improving regulatory compliance and supply chain performance. This makes our client stand tall among the top 1% of competitors to have this capability.

Also Read: Automating pricing operations enables 3PL to grow revenue by 40%

2. Data Migration

IoT equipment is now an essential part of the manufacturing fabric. But the challenge comes from the fact that legacy systems are ill-equipped to share data with others within the manufacturing ecosystem. RPA comes to their rescue in achieving this complex and time-consuming feat since bots can work independently of APIs.

RPA integrates different applications by acting as an intermediary between the old systems and the new thus facilitating seamless data migration. What makes RPA so empowering is its ability to correct and fix inconsistencies along the way in real-time. Insurers have leveraged RPA to lower its onboarding costs by 91% even as it experienced a 600% improvement in processing time. In turn, this boosted its service quality and customer experience that was held back by backlogs previously.

3. Customer Care and Service Desk Support

Delayed response or long resolution times can harm the trust you have built with your customers. To be able to help them promptly in real-time, you need to swiftly navigate through multiple business systems which are often laborious. But things can change dramatically by automating customer service with RPA.

US banks have harnessed RPA to improve their average handling time at their customer service center by 30%. This resulted in a monthly savings of 8000 work hours, enabling employees to use the freed time on value-added services.

4. CRM and Sales Order Integration

While sales thrive on relationship building and communication, it is a known fact that sales order integration does not stop there. It involves a mix of activities like creating estimates, checking product availability, processing orders, managing logistics, etc. Not to mention the coordination between many departments these processes call for.

Also Read: How automation is improving order and inventory management in logistics

A restaurant group used RPA to automate sales reports resulting in a 65% decrease in daily time expended on generating reports from across over 40,000 locations. This helped them nurture customer relationships and increase sales revenue.

5. Regulatory Compliance

The safety protocols constantly evolve in the manufacturing domain. There are individual product regulations to look into along with a whole lot of compliance requirements to adhere to. RPA takes away the stress from regulatory compliance ensuring your manufacturing outfit is audit-ready with accurate data processing and detailed records.

All bot activities are constantly monitored and available for inspection through a central log. RPA enables quick and effortless process updates too so that you are always up-to-date when it comes to compliance regulations.

6. ERP Automation

Bots play a big role in invoice processing and inventory control both of which involve elaborate paperwork, identifying deficiencies, and fulfilling customer demand at the earliest. Due to its ability to enhance operational efficiencies, RPA gives manufacturers an edge to manage tasks like sending invoices, creating purchase orders, computing shipping costs, taxes, or discounts, and driving overall financial processes that would otherwise require a high level of human intervention.

There are a whole lot of reports that need to be created and sent out via email or to be uploaded in a shared folder. SKUs need to be updated regularly too and Accounts Payable and Receivable have to be accurately managed. RPA takes care of all the reporting and related administrative chores to help organizations manage their business requirements efficiently.

The role of RPA is undeniably critical in the present manufacturing landscape. As Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner points out, “The key driver for RPA projects is their ability to improve process quality, speed and productivity, each of which is increasingly important as organizations try to meet the demands of cost reduction during COVID-19.”

Discover the impact of RPA with Trigent

Our RPA services are built for speed and scale. They make you agile to adapt in a fast-changing manufacturing sector and enjoy extraordinary cost savings along the way. We can help you minimize production downtime, optimize processes, and enhance your operational capabilities.

Our highly experienced business process consultants are eager to talk to you to help you automate with RPA without needing you to navigate through robot complexities.

Call us today for a business consultation.

References

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/software-bots-multiply-to-cope-with-stretched-resources-11611615504?mod=djemCIO
  2. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-09-21-gartner-says-worldwide-robotic-process-automation-software-revenue-to-reach-nearly-2-billion-in-2021#:~:text=RPA%20Market%20Forecast%20to%20Grow,latest%20forecast%20from%20Gartner%2C%20Inc.

6 Examples of how Augmented Reality (AR) Transforms Manufacturing

Remember how the IKEA Place app allowed us to experience what it would feel like to have their signature pieces in our homes? Pokémon Go sent the younger demographics on a wild chase even as it gave the world a taste of what Augmented Reality (AR) technology can do.

The world of humans and machines is intertwined and symbiotic today. The reality around us has always been three-dimensional but for decades our understanding was based on two-dimensional pages and screens that fell short of what we wanted to know. Until Augmented Reality started narrowing the gulf between the real and digital worlds.

Such is its demand that MarketsandMarkets1 predicts the global augmented reality market to grow to $77B by 2025 from $15.3B in 2020 at a CAGR of 38%. From an estimated 598 million devices by the end of 2020, the number of AR active devices is expected to touch 1.73 billion by 2024.

AR is the convergence of the digital and the real world. AR has become mainstream and is being leveraged in all areas including manufacturing.

As demand for remote assistance and collaboration from enterprises continues to rise, AR-based apps are now being extensively used for monitoring, identifying, and fixing technical issues. They also play a pivotal role in various areas of manufacturing such as designing, retrofitting, assembling, manufacturing, repairing, etc.

Equipped with AR wearables, the manufacturing workforce can now achieve feats that were previously unthinkable. Here’s a sneak peek into the many roles this tech plays in empowering the manufacturing industry.

1. Offers Live Support and Equipment Maintenance

Caterpillar Inc. used an innovative augmented reality-based live support video calling platform to take its commitment to provide remote assistance to the next level. This helped technicians perform service and maintenance checks while taking pictures, having live support, and getting step-by-step instructions to complete a task.

AR enables customers, dealers, and technicians to interact with products and visualize 3D renderings of equipment, and collaborate in real-time. In the new normal of contactless interaction, AR presents the perfect solution to enterprises to offer expert support to their customers anywhere in the world. This not only saves time and effort but minimizes downtime significantly.

AR also helps identify problems and errors that may stop machines and equipment from working optimally. Mitsubishi also offers maintenance support using AR wherein technicians wear smart glasses to check the order of inspection of items on AR display and records results with voice entries. This method comes in handy in noisy environments and eliminates manual errors.

AR takes away the guesswork from maintenance and ensures methodical response and faster recovery time. AR devices enable the maintenance team to instantly see all the details such as operation times, date of the last service, potential points of failure, etc.

2. Facilitates Product Design and Development

The augmented reality when used for product design can accelerate workflows, reduce costs, and infuse precision. While we are familiar with prototyping, AR allows developers to evaluate concepts even before the prototyping stage with a concept called ‘pretotyping’. It allows them to critically evaluate product variants and ascertain if they are indeed building the right thing with the required precision. Explains Brenden Monahan CPO at Vusar, “Faster failings result in even more successes and also fewer missed chances. With AR your initial prototype could be your last.”

NASA too has utilized AR to speed up the construction of the Orion spacecraft while its Mission to Mars2 AR app is giving users a virtual ride to the Martian planet. With AR, it’s almost akin to seeing a product being designed and built-in real-time. Design teams can collaborate, deliberate, and offer insights to eliminate the tedious back and forth communications and iterations. With AR, manufacturing companies are now able to reduce turnaround times as well as delivery times.

3. Aids Complex Assembly

Boeing – the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners – managed to cut production time by a whopping 25% with a nearly zero error rate using AR technology to wire hundreds of planes. As Randall MacPherson, senior manager of Boeing’s Electrical Strategic Fabrication Center in Mesa, Arizona puts it, “We’ve seen significant productivity increases in our wiring harness facility from this technology where we’ve tested it, and it resulted in a substantial improvement to first-time quality. Wearable technology is helping us amplify the power of our workforce.”

AR is now being used by pretty much all modern manufacturing companies that need to put together a zillion pieces in complex assemblies at the speed of thought. There are assembly instructions to adhere to that can now be seen in the work field in real-time during conception as well as maintenance phases of manufacturing.

4. Ensures Quality Control

AR with its ability to overlay the real world with digital data helps manufacturers conduct quality control processes with precision. It informs technicians about defective product components and whether product components meet quality parameters with quick inspections. The findings can be further compiled in precise reports for future reference.

Automobile giant Porsche has already implemented AR to test processes in real-time, conduct quality audits with suppliers via video conference, and subsequently set new quality benchmarks. AR gives technicians a decisive advantage to analyze performance, compare systems, and detect deviations. Incorrectly installed parts can be visualized while missing parts can be identified. The results obtained using AR help manufacturers save time and live up to their promise.

5. Streamlines Logistics

Every time a customer places a new order, certain procedures need to be followed. From checking the inventory to scanning the product, to preparing it for delivery to actually delivering it – there’s an elaborate process involved. But with AR, it’s easy and quick. In fact, AR proved to be quite a game-changer for DHL that set new standards in order picking by allowing its workers to see things like picking instructions, locations of items, and exact placement on carts through head-mounted displays.

DHL claimed AR implementation in warehousing operations helped improve its picking process by 25 percent. Hands-free order picking has helped increase productivity and has played a big role in improving operations during transportation, last-mile delivery, and a host of value-added services that allow them to collaborate better with their partners and make their customers happy.

6. Aids in Training and Upskilling Employees

Often, putting someone new on the floor can lead to safety concerns since they are unfamiliar with the protocols and equipment. But AR ensures they can be trained without any compromise on safety by explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ pertaining to their jobs. AR-enabled apps can offer complete visibility that helps trainees to get hands-on experience.

With AR at the helm, trainees do not have to struggle with manuals all the time. AR works alongside to help them even in the most challenging environments providing them step-by-step guidance to understand documents, manuals, and other work-related stuff. This helps them get hands-on experience along the way.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) too leveraged AR in collaboration with Bosch to train their employees with a technical training app that digitally visualized an X-ray into the Range Rover Sport vehicle dashboard. Manufacturers are now using AR even for upskilling to boost the abilities of production workers for better performance, safety, and worker satisfaction.

Give your business the AR edge with Trigent

AR is helping the manufacturing sector improve productivity, decrease costs, and ensure a higher level of safety.

At Trigent, we have been connecting humans and machines through AR for many years now. Our highly proficient team can empower you with customized solutions to help you in diverse areas of manufacturing including production, maintenance, training, and QA.

Call us today to know more.

References

  1. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/augmented-reality-virtual-reality-market-1185.html
  2. https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/space-astronomy/mission-to-mars-augmented-reality-app