I agree, Tim. Consumers will definitely pay for such features if their own safety is at risk. Interestingly, employers won't always pay for that safety unless unless they are potentially deemed liable.
Yes, you're right about that, TJ. Some automation vendors (as well as machine producers) are offering maintenance services to their customers. I'm not sure whether that brings down the price (they say it does), and I'm not sure how much this model is getting adopted.
It's unfotunate that there are so many activities like this that are critical but costly and don't necessarily result in a visible bootm line benefit so it's easy to short cut and not spend the money that needs to be spent.
Companies say safety is important but rarely spend the money to have top notch servicers that can maintain the equipment.
Safety as a product goes back to the Saw Stop table saw technology that was looked at last year. That is a product that people pay a premium for just for the extra safety. Consumers also pay a premium to for extra safety features in vehicles.
Rob, I can buy what you say. But to make the predictive systems themselves work, you need a highly trained operator/programmer/(Engineer?). Companies do not offer enough compensation for the skill level required to maintain the maintenance system.
Just a side note that at ALL the companies I visited in 2011, the subject of safety came up. It's a big item that companies want to implement and it's also something they want to "sell," by building safety features into their products as well as being provably "designed for safety." A lot of this has been spurred by European regulations, which are currently tougher than U.S. regs as regards safety. Regardless of the reason(s), safety is a huge check-list item and in fact can almost be categorized as a technology in and of itself (though it's really a property, not a technology).
Interesting comment, TJ. I cover the technology as it emerges, but the available technology is not necessarily what gets deployed in plants. Maintenance technology is advancing impressively. Prognostics and diagnostics catch problems before they happen. Predictive maintenance delivers efficiencies in that parts get replaced due to wear, not due to timing. The vendors insist these tools pay for themselves with predictable ROI. But of course, that doesn't mean a plant will deploy this new technology.
They are cool, Beth. They are called different things by different suppliers. You may have heard of them referred to as safety curtains. It is an electronic field that senses when something enters the field. When it's breeched, it shuts down the machinery. So you can't stick your arm into a moving conveyor without having the conveyor shut down.
What's new in this technology is that the curtains are closer to the machinery, the machinery shuts down more quickly, and less of the line shuts down during a breech. That means fewer false trips, quicker response, and less loss of production.
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