Sometimes it seems like all the sexy digital transformation projects go to the big three industries: financial services, healthcare and retail/ecommerce.

With everybody handling mortgages or monitoring patients from their mobile devices as if they were checking a Facebook update, it seems like all the high visibility professions get all the fun.

But what about manufacturing plant maintenance? Are plant maintenance managers getting any respect in the digital transformation department?

Yes, in fact they are! From auto manufacturers to food processing companies, plant maintenance managers can get automatic updates on their mobile devices with predictive maintenance alerts.

They can also issue orders to maintenance technicians to their mobile devices or tablets.

But the big question is, how do we get there?

First, a little about the evolution of plant maintenance.



This is the most basic, most reactive type of plant maintenance. You're not aware you have to perform some type of maintenance until a machine malfunction or you've got plant downtime.

It's inefficient and costs a lot. Not good.



This a little more proactive, but still non-optimal. You base it on a schedule. You might perform preventive maintenance every 6 months to keep equipment from breaking down. 

This is still not efficient. Maybe you're scheduled to perform maintenance on equipment that has been idle for 2 months.

But because you're going by schedule you still go out and "maintain it" even though it doesn't need any maintenance.




Now we're getting into proactive territory. Here you're monitoring the actual condition of the manufacturing asset using data coming from the equipment in real time so you can decide when maintenance is needed.

CBM dictates that maintenance should only be performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing performance or upcoming failure.

But this is less than optimal, since where we want to get to is to prevent the issue from happening at all.



Through predictive algorithms and machine learning you can determine trends and patterns that allow you to predict when a failure may occur so you can perform maintenance when it's actually needed.

This is similar to CBM but with more advanced algorithms. It's not just based on thresholds but on actual predictive algorithms.



Now this is the holy grail of digitized plant maintenance. Prescriptive maintenance uses similar algorithms as predictive maintenance and in some cases may add artificial intelligence. Maintenance data can be then correlated with quality and production data to create even more powerful prescriptive applications.

These last three scenarios: CBM, and Predictive, and Prescriptive Maintenance, are where you want to get to with the digital transformation of your plant maintenance.

And by digitizing your plant maintenance operations, you're also making the corrective and preventive scenarios more efficient, while laying the groundwork for CBM and Predictive.



So how do you do this?

Many plants already use SAP PM or an equivalent maintenance system. But these systems are not user friendly, and a technician has to physically walk over to a PC to execute orders, input manual data, and search for the information needed in reports.

Some plants actually just verbally issue orders or use paper, incredible as it sounds. This leaves them prone to manual errors, and they don't have a way to measure productivity or perform utilization tracking.

Finally, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, they don't get to use their phones, the devices they carry everywhere they go.

Sure, they can check their spouse's latest Facebook updates, but they can't check on the condition of their plant machinery nor execute maintenance orders.

To get to the place where you can execute maintenance processes from the convenience of your mobile device, you can implement something like NEORIS' plant maintenance accelerator.

What can implementing a solution using an accelerator like this help you do?

You can:

  1. Digitize maintenance processes including the creation, visualization, and execution of work orders.
  2. Get a digital view of equipment or spare parts documents in a tablet, reducing time and ensuring the latest version is always there (instead of having to go and look for manuals in a bin which may not even be the most recent version).
  3. Assign work orders to technicians and track labor hours.
  4. Automatically integrate cycle counts from equipment to the ERP in order to have more efficient preventive processes.
  5. Lay the foundation for condition based, predictive, and prescriptive maintenance.



We worked with French firm Faurecia, the 6th largest international automotive parts manufacturer in the world. Faurecia designs and manufactures seats, exhaust systems, interior systems (dashboards, center consoles, door panels, acoustic modules) and decorative aspects of a vehicle (aluminum, wood).

With customers such as Volkswagen, PSA Peugeot Citro├źn, Renault-Nissan, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Daimler, Fiat/Chrysler, and Toyota, you know they need state-of-the-art plant maintenance procedures.



When Faurecia came to NEORIS they had no way of directly tracking machine activity, labor tracking and assignment of tasks were a challenge, and of course there was no mobility for plant maintenance technicians (they used PCs instead of tablets or smart phones).



After implementing NEORIS' plant maintenance management solution integrated to SAP PM, they could create, edit, and confirm work orders from a mobile device.

They could track actual machine cycles, were able to automatically or manually assign work orders to technicians and track time spent on orders in a simple way.



They improved overall availability and performance by standardizing and simplifying the plant maintenance processes. They improved labor efficiency by streamlining plant maintenance processes on the shop floor.

They were able to reduce plant maintenance activities through simplified user-friendly screens. They simplified their IT architecture by having a single SAP supported product to do data input, integration, and intelligence / analytics;

And a host of other benefits.