Routine maintenance is a key success factor for achieving OEE targets. After all, predictive maintenance can potentially prevent expensive machine downtime. However, many manufacturing companies lack a suitable maintenance platform. With the new Maintenance App, PIA Automation offers a solution that can be installed locally in the system and works across machines.
The challenge: Customer Service is mostly reactive and inefficient
Drivers know it: many modern vehicles have an indicator that lights up when the next service is due. Today, many contract repair shops actively contact their customers to schedule an appointment. In the best case, this is done in good time so that the customer can fit the workshop appointment well into his schedule.
In industry, this type of predictive maintenance and scheduling is not yet widespread. Often, paper-based maintenance schedules are still used, and scheduling management is hampered by a shortage of skilled workers.
Day-to-day work in customer service is currently often still very reactive, and this is also the case at PIA Automation. With its 12 networked company locations around the globe and its continuously growing know-how and more than 8,500 implemented projects, the company is one of the world’s leading automation specialists in areas such as automotive, medical, consumer goods, electronics and testing. With its own Industry 4.0 solutions, the company offers its customers decisive advantages in the digitalization and networking of production.
Tobias Weber, VP Group Software Standardization & Digitalization at PIA Automation, explains: “Our day-to-day customer service is currently still very reactive. Our service staff supports our customers with small system modifications, coordinates spare parts requests and orders or, of course, provides remote or even on-site support for troubleshooting acute problems at the production system. In some cases, our customers also have a service contract that includes 24/7 telephone support, for example, or regular on-site visits by our service technicians to carry out defined maintenance work on a regular basis.”
In many automated productions, different influencing factors cause daily shifts in the planning and always create new situations and challenges that lead to regular maintenance work. “In principle, every producer would like to perform this activity during the times when the system is at standstill anyway. But even these periods shift regularly”, says Weber. “Without software it is difficult to keep track of which maintenance work is due now or which is already overdue.“ When these are then performed, the maintenance person often has neither helpful guidance nor an efficient means of documenting what needs to be done.
In order to solve this problem, PIA Automation decided to develop a maintenance software that would make the management of maintenance more efficient and convenient. “When creating the concept, it was important for us to take into account that a manufacturing company is reluctant to share its production data with the supplier,” Weber explains. The basic requirement was therefore to create an architecture that takes into account data security and customer data sovereignty. “At the same time, we want to work together to proactively optimize system performance”, adds Weber.
Data processing must therefore take place directly at the customer’s system. At the same time, there should be a communication channel that can provide indications of certain conditions or developments via this intelligent system.
The solution: Maintenance App installed locally in the system
PIA Automation sought support for the development of the maintenance software from the digitalization specialists at Digital Enabler. The company develops digital products and platforms as well as individual solutions for customers in the industrial sector from the concept to the finished implementation in the existing infrastructures and processes. Together, they created the Maintenance App, which makes it easier for PIA Automation customers to plan, perform and document the regular maintenance work that is due.
The app is integrated into the PIA Industrial App Suite, which is already in use at many customers. The suite analyzes quality and process data to ensure plant performance and thus optimize OEE values. The Maintenance App from PIA Automation can be installed locally in the customer’s system. The user has the option of integrating a wide variety of controllers, machines and systems via the MQTT protocol.
It is accessed via a common web browser. This makes it easier for users to keep track of upcoming or overdue maintenance work on their system. The digital maintenance plan includes reminders of upcoming due dates, scheduling, instructions and documentation of the work to be done on the system. For many customers, digital document storage in a central database represents a decisive advance over traditional paperbased correspondence.
The result: Powerful maintenance platform for heterogeneous plant landscapes
The Maintenance App from PIA Automation is now available. The first version still operates without data recording and relies on the predefined cyclic maintenance intervals. As part of the further development of the service portfolio, it is planned to introduce the PIA Customer Service Platform (CSP) in 2024. This complements the existing digital service portfolio of the Industrial App Suite. For this purpose, the machine condition data and process data are integrated.
The locally installed Maintenance App corresponds to the indicator light in the car – “Please drive to the workshop”, the Customer Service Platform enables PIA to contact the plant operator to provide proactive support. The plant operator can – in the future via ticket system in the cloud – quickly and easily request assistance or remote support and even commission maintenance tasks.
Manufacturing plants often have machines from different manufacturers. For Dr. Stephan Verclas, who is responsible for business coaching, consulting and development for digitization and digital transformation at Digital Enabler, the PIA Industrial App Suite with the Maintenance App offers the decisive advantage that it can also integrate systems from different manufacturers: “Heterogeneous plant landscapes are frequently encountered in the industry. In this respect, PIA Automation’s suite actually solves one of the major problems faced by many OEMs, as analysis, optimization and maintenance are possible across manufacturers via this digital platform.”