Industrial maintenance as a service (#imaas) transfers the digital and/or manual management of maintenance and industrial operations from machine users to machine manufacturers (OEMs), while improving it considerably. It is a revolutionary step in the logical and futuristic evolution of the industrial maintenance world.
Addressing a Need
At present, industrial maintenance works mostly in a very divided way.
- Machine manufacturers (OEMs) invent, develop, manufacture and deliver machines to their respective customers.
- These customers receive, install, operate and maintain these machines.
"In short, maintenance can be a real challenge for some companies or really expensive for a best practice."
Upon receipt, customers receive an operation and maintenance manual, most often in a printed or pdf version.
With the machine being under warranty and the maintenance teams being under constant pressure, it can sometimes take a year before a technician or engineer looks at the manual.
But when it happens, this passionate technician begins to leaf through the 300 technical pages on the "new" machine. The technician turns on her/his computer, opens its word processing software and finds an in-house tasks' template. The following two weeks are then spent on perfecting these unique custom maintenance tasks (as detailed in the manufacturer’s recommendations).
Once this step is completed, the technician must now attach all these tasks to the complicated computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
Now, it is time for thinking and discussing the frequencies to be scheduled. "The manufacturer said it was necessary to clean the ink rollers every day! That's too much and it's tiring, so we will just clean them once a week..." and so on.
Then, there is the whole part of data collection (e.g., breakdowns, preventive, etc.), management of spare parts, operations, training, constant updates (both manufacturer and user side). Too often forgotten.
In short, maintenance can be a real challenge for some companies or really expensive for a best practice.
Enter Industrial Maintenance as a Service
As of 2022, #imaas is still a proof of concept (like its acronym!). It utilizes cloud platforms, Industry 4.0, communications protocols, and the technology embedded in the machines to transfer and enhance both the industrial operations and maintenance management from machine users to machine manufacturers.
With #imaas, machine manufacturers will be able to rotate their business models by offering maintenance as a service. Some visionary manufacturers already do with the purchase of their new machines. Here are some examples of their services:
- All information relating to the machine (e.g., technical descriptions, equipment, videos, photos, plans and version/evolution control);
- All maintenance tasks (e.g., corrective and preventive);
- All operating modes and alarms;
- Identification and ordering of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) spare parts;
- Machine data and connected sensors (e.g., Industrial Internet of Things);
- Enable predictive / prescriptive maintenance;
- OEM training, assimilative and entertaining education (e.g., survey, quiz, virtual reality);
- OEM integrated customer service (e.g., conversational assistant, chatbot, etc.);
- OEM and third-party algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence (performance);
- OEM reservation and service planning / annual shutdown;
- Interface (API) with tools, products and generic parts of distributors;
- OEM targeted marketing.
For those manufacturers not yet offering #imaas, everything related to technology is a race. The fastest will be the first beneficiaries. But, the choices are difficult to make and machine manufacturers have to consider how to:
- Choose the technologies that will be sustainable;
- Hire the new skills required, which are different from their core business;
- Migrate machine information to the Cloud or Industry 4.0.
How to Enable Industrial Maintenance as a Service
Whether you are a manufacturer (OEM), a distributor, or a machine user, try first to target and develop use cases. The risk profile of potential added value is extremely low. A good starting point is to consider the following pros and cons.
- Customer-driven: Machine users are open to new possibilities afforded by new and evolving technologies.
- Benefits: Numerous benefits can be realized by both manufacturers and machine users.
- Promotion of standardization: Users of the same machines worldwide will follow the same standards for maintenance and operations.
- Standard platform needed: Each manufacturer (OEM) will develop its own platform. Users operating an average of 10 brands of machines will get lost in the use of software platforms.
- No business model: Nobody has yet developed a business model, but either the cost will be included in the machine purchase or as a subscription model.
- Fear and questions: Some common concerns are: What is the future for CMMS? How much work should be done? How to connect the management of machine versions from computer-aided design (CAD) software?
The future of the machinery industry is bright, but everything is yet to be written. It's up to all involved to be innovative, visionary, inspired, creative and ingenious.