Meet James, he works as a maintenance chief engineer at a factory working 3 shifts. With his team, he is responsible for production lines and auxiliary facilities. It is ready to maintain everything from water pumps to PLCs with his team. It has a skilled team having knowledge in each field from hydraulics to high voltage. Chief technician Omar is responsible for electrical works. Ronald takes care of mechanical works. In the automation part, there is the young engineer Ed.

Each of them works with 5 people in their team. 19 people with both experienced and inexperienced personnel. 19 people undertake all the maintenance and repair works in this factory where 450 people work. The factory must never stop. To ensure this, the maintenance team does all weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual maintenance for each equipment. They even do more when they suspect something. Because even if any of those equipment stops, it can stop production.

On the other hand, despite all their effort, machine malfunctions still occur. This time, “repair” works are also assigned to the maintenance team. Sometimes the source of these failures is a bearing that consumes its life early, sometimes a coupling that is out of alignment, sometimes a panel whose insulation is damaged, and sometimes and and operator’s mistake. When all these happens, the maintenance team has to intervene no matter what. During a shift, after a shift or in holiday time… The team has to go and intervene in this malfunction,restore and repower this factory, which has already lost tens of thousands of dollars even in minutes.

In order to prevent all these, the most efficient solution comes to the fore with the arrival of Industry 4.0; online condition monitroing and predictive maintenance systems. In other words, James, Omar, Ronald, Ed and the rest of the team can actually predict malfunctions with this type of system and instead of repairing a broken device or even replacing it, they can maintain it before it malfunctions, save the device and prevent downtimes that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Although this issue is clear in their minds, they are not always able to provide the right communication in conveying it to the senior management.

In this article, we have summarized in 6 points how James and his team will explain the benefits of online predictive maintenance and condition monitoring to the senior management for all on-site maintenance people.

1.Calculate Downtime Costs

Your managers may not know your subject better than you. The facts that are very clear to you cannot be visible for themi all time. They are responsible for the actions that will take their companies forward and lead the entire organization you are in. Therefore, it is very important to explain the benefits clearly in numbers.

Even if the system you want to install will pay for itself by preventing a single failure, talk about the energy, personnel and raw material losses that occur during the downtimes. Explaining a $10,000 system can actually prevent a few hours of downtime a year, and that a loss of more than $100,000 can be avoided will change his perspective on the subject.

2.Highlight Increased Production Capacity

If a facility that produces 1000 pieces of product per hour increases the number to 1010 pieces, it means a 1% increase in production for that business. Earning 1% more for the same cost is a 6.6% increase in profit for a business with roughly 15% profit margin. When multiplied by million-dollar turnover, a substantial increase is obtained. Achieving this is possible by preventing only 30% of the downtimes caused by malfunctions in a year.

3.Remember Raw Material Costs

It is an old but still valid rule in the industry to “win while buying”. The disruptions in the supply chain that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic have affected every sector without exception. The prices of many products are increasing, from aluminum to steel, from polyester to carbon fiber. If it’s a metalworking facility where you work, I’m sure the boss of the company checks the London Metal Exchange website every day. When he looks at many products, the graphic he sees is as follows.

Chart 1. London Metal Exchange Aluminum Price Chart

While this is the case, scrap resulting from low-quality production caused by these machine failures or second-quality products to be sold well below the price attracts everyone’s attention.

4.Explain Increasing Facility Reliability

These systems offer you the opportunity to “predict”. With these foresights, you can continue to work without stopping production, by intervening in a machine when necessary. This increases reliability for both you and the plant. Reliability, on the other hand, not only contributes to the profitability of an enterprise, but also ensures that human resources are used more efficiently.

5. Talk More About Increased Machine Life

In many different studies, the average age of the machine parkours of the production facilities in the world is between 17-32. Whether it is a new or old equipment in production facilities, when its useful life is extended when it is recovered from catastrophic failures. With a motor that is saved only by balancing will never end up its life at the same time with a repaired broken-shaft motor. Even increasing the life of an equipment that will be used for an average of 20 years by 1 year (5%) means that the initial investment cost is used much more efficiently.

6. Show That You Are Ready for Digital Transformation

This concept, which has been described as Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation or with different names, has actually been understood by most managers, but what is expected is the people to be ready for it. Purchasing processes that used to pile up on desks for signing can be handled with digital approvals, warehouse stocks can be kept in databases instead of papers, and performance data is calculated with software. While all these happens maintenance processes cannot be excluded. But there is a fundamental factor in the integration of all these technologies into processes; people. Ultimately, people are the who use these products and manage the processes. Although managers understand the benefits of these products and processes, sometimes it is the adaptation of their teams to these technologies that keeps them away from these innovations. A manager who is confident about his/her teams will easily adapt to these processes and produce benefits and output will not hesitate to invest in these technologies. In addition, a system that can be integrated with other digital platforms will facilitate all these processes.

Conclusion

The summary of all these 6 items we have been explained is actually to quantify the benefits of the data you already have and to be confident about yourself. Digital Transformation will be the key to many advantages in these days where competitiveness is increasing day by day and production capacity of each facility is increasing hour by hour. Teams and companies that include maintenance activities in these transformation processes will also be the ones to stand out in the competition with the blessings of digital transformation.