How do the industrial internet of things, big data and predictive maintenance impact common equipment maintenance routines? What should maintenance teams consider in order to take advantage of the new opportunities these technologies enable? 

Smart manufacturing is at the heart of Industry 4.0. The move toward digitalization has brought the "smart factory" concept to life. Equipment maintenance plays a crucial role in smart manufacturing. Following the trend of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), machines are now equipped with sensors to collect data, which can be transmitted to computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). These systems use powerful analytics to work the data and deliver real-time results that are accessible any time on any smart device. Issues are detected and communicated immediately to the staff.

The impact of big data on equipment maintenance is prolonged machinery life. The adoption of IIoT changes the approach of maintenance interventions from reactive to proactive, creating ongoing predictive and preventive maintenance routines. Smart maintenance also promotes minimized energy consumption and thus environmentally efficient production. In essence, big data can increase the overall performance and reliability of the system with significant cost savings.

Big Data Management

For many companies, the first step toward big data and the industrial internet of things is the adoption of a CMMS to collect, store and analyze data. The maintenance team should be granted access to this data anytime and react immediately. Everyone on the team must be able to review the planned and performed tasks, and interventions should be easily followed up. Machine data should be compared and analyzed on a daily basis, with predictive maintenance strategies applied. The best systems allow you to schedule and report interventions, manage all types of maintenance documents, and improve internal team communication. By collecting, combining and comparing every piece of information related to your maintenance department, a CMMS can help you optimize your processes by anticipating potential problems before they become failures and lead to downtime.

Combining the IIoT and a CMMS

How does the connection between the industrial internet of things and a CMMS work? Various IIoT technological solutions follow specified machine parameters, such as vibration, temperature, oil levels and acoustics, and collect them as data. The equipment then sends this information to a CMMS, where immediate maintenance tasks can be scheduled, the data analyzed and predictive maintenance protocols configured. The true power of the IIoT isn't in the hardware but in the software where the data is stored. This is where the data becomes meaningful and tells you to react when the time is right. Combining the IIoT and a CMMS can help maintenance teams better monitor and control their assets, and identify potential problems.

Reducing Maintenance Costs

The main promise of predictive analytics is to trigger maintenance interventions only and precisely when needed, thus allowing significant cost savings over time-based preventive maintenance. Predictive analytics recognize patterns in equipment data to project possible failures and subsequently improve reliability and cost.

By knowing the exact needs of every piece of equipment, spare parts and human resources can also be better anticipated, and maintenance tasks can be performed only when scheduled. The proper adoption of predictive maintenance(PdM) results in an increased operational stability and decreased downtime. Combined with big data, PdM turns into a powerful tool for monitoring and realizing diagnosis of critical assets.

Future Outlook

The internet of things and big data represent a huge opportunity to improve equipment reliability and reduce maintenance costs. Next-generation computerized management maintenance systems are turning IIoT's big data into usable analytics and forcing manufacturers to embrace new trends. Since the industrial internet of things and CMMS will be at the heart of the smart factory of tomorrow, companies that have already gone through the necessary transformation will have a greater chance to position themselves as leaders in the future.

About the Author

Ralitsa Peycheva is a technical writer for Mobility Work, a next-generation CMMS and the first maintenance social network. Follow Ralitsa on Google+ and Twitter.