Thanks for this, Rob--I knew about the shift to predictive maintenance but hadn't caught up yet with condition-based maintenance. Sounds a lot more efficient. What exactly are the hardware monitoring devices that supply the software with data? Cameras? Sensors? Both?
Rob, this is a great example of the Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analytics being applied to industrial machines. Your comment about software at the end is instructive as well. The thing about software is that it can be amortized across a large number of customers. This makes it cost effective to put a lot of effort into the software.
I did R&D for a custom system like this many years ago for a simulator manufacturer. This was very specific to the manufacturer, but worked across all their products. The system would tell you where there were potential failures very early. This saved lots of money.
What Siemens is doing here will have a great impact. It brings in big data, PLM and other technologies. This will allow it to become better over time. Very impressive.
I think we already have much of this concept in many automobiles today. We just don't have the interface and the flexibility to check all the data that is available, as we may want to. We simply get what the car comes with. My car now tells me how much life I have left in the oil. It's not just mileage that it uses any more. It monitors the type of driving style, engine temperatures, duration of trips, and various factors a modern vehicle has sensor data from. Depending on the conditions it has ranged from 8 to 15,000 miles between it's recommended changes. This may still be considered predictive, since it's not directly testing the oil, but there are other sensors that directly measure performance on today's vehicles. Mine tells me what tire need air, and if the engine needs service. You just need to plug in the interface to know the details on what service is exactly needed. And most of this it does long before a actual breakdown occurs. It amazes me how much simpler modern programming is making maintenance today. I had a Danish supplier for a large process machine email me to check a valve on our machine back in the 90's. But that was based on a dial up connection, and periodic monitoring of performance by one of their technicians. The article made me smile and think how much they would have loved this interface!
Predictive maintenance, the process of doing repairs when a system starts to fail instead of either on a schedule or when the failure stops operation, is not a new concept. For many years, at least in some plants, machine operators and the maintenance group would communicate frequently about machine performance, and the result would be that when things drifted "just a bit", or when a machine made a different sound, the mantenance group would be made aware of the change, and could take the corrective measures during the normally scheduled maintenance period between shifts. Of course this happy mode required a lot of "team spirit" as well as operators familiar with their machines.
Today that condition is mostly not available for many reasons and so the control systems and the new added monitoring systems must do the same thing that people used to do. Alomost as good as the old system, possibly more sensitive than the old system, and probably the only way to go in the fully automated industries. But not really a new concept.
I think one of the biggest changes in predictive maintenance in recent years, William K is that sensors can now monitor the condition of individual parts to determine the actual condition of those parts.
Rob, that is true. Monitoring individual parts can provide more advanced detection, as well as working in areas that have no human operators or other human presence. And once the monitoring system knows what is OK and what is not, it may be able to predict problems sooner.
Yes, William K. One day we'll probably have sensors that will tell us when our car's oil has become less effective for lubricating. Then we will change our oil when it actually needs changing rather than changing it at an arbitrary mileage or time.
Rob, On the last car that I owned that had an oil pressure gauge, which was a while back, it was fairly obvious when the oil had changed properties, since the oil pressure would drop more when the engine was at idle. Newer oil, with the required viscosity would not drop as far when the engine would return to a warm idle.
Actually though, the mechanism of sensing a loss of lubricating properties that could be done in a way cheap enough for the auto companies to buy it, would be very interesting. So please be sure to post that announcement when you get it.
William K, it sounds like you figured out your own sensor for determinging the age and vicosity of your car's oil. Not sure when we'll see a sensor that reads the lubricating value of car oil, but it's time will likely come.
I am happy to see the interest and the feedback on this topic. Thank you Rob for providing me with the opportunity to speak to you regarding it. I am happy to provide any additional feedback to anyone who may be interested in learning more about what Siemens is doing in this area.
Thanks Ryan. Yes, it was a good subject. Amazing how automation devices are changing manufacturing. I heard someone say the other day, "Manufacturing is conming back to North America, but the plants don't employ people any longer."
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