Given the rapid rise and adoption of wireless and mobile technology in the consumer markets, it was inevitable that back-office departments like maintenance and supply chain would also be able to utilize it in their operations.
Today, wireless sensors are embedded into pipelines, boilers, turbines and all kinds of assets that require routine maintenance. Furthermore, as the technology has gotten better and cheaper, it has led to widespread adoption. Let’s see what all the fuss is about and whether your business can benefit from wireless technology or not.
Use cases of Wireless Technology in Maintenance Management
Inventory Management goes wireless
One of the use cases where companies are benefiting from wireless technology is inventory management. Imagine a maintenance team that is alerted through smart watches or mobile devices when the inventory of some items needs to be replenished, a critical tool or a replacement part is no longer available.
When a piece of equipment is required in a hurry, the RFID tag alerts the inventory system that it is being removed from storage and the system can update the inventory automatically with the name of the person who’s checking it out.
In retail and manufacturing, inventory management is going wireless as well. As parts travel through the supply chain, the wireless sensors and tags help provide visibility of when they were shipped, received, and stored, then the information can be used to identify value-added information for each customer.
Companies reap the benefits of better inventory via less unsold stock, better quality assurance through timely information throughout the entire supply chain, and optimized stock levels.
In the context of maintenance management, this technology ensures that you always have an optimum amount of spare parts and the required tools available to deal with every planned and unplanned equipment breakdowns.
Predictive maintenance and IIoT
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing the maintenance sector by leveraging the power of wireless (and wired) sensors and using complex algorithms such as machine learning to help optimize the way companies maintain equipment.
Since the sensors in industrial and commercial equipment can transmit data wirelessly, the predictive maintenance system can alert teams to impending breakdowns or parts that need replacing.
Sensors can provide temperature, vibration,flow monitoring and pressure data to a data logger, which then passes the data to the maintenance management system for corrective action. This approach provides a myriad of benefits such as:
- better planning, control, and technical work documentation
- improved process quality
- equipment gets an extended lifespan due to less wear and tear on parts since they are replaced well before breakdowns occur.
- less downtime and hence increased productivity due to machines being available for use throughout the year
The technology has applications in all sorts of industries, from aerospace to the food and beverage industry. According to a survey carried out by PwC, almost half of the 280 respondents have plans to eventually implement advanced Preventive Maintenance using IoT tools, and one in five have already started to implement it. For 47% of them, improved uptime was the primary driver to choose this upgrade.
Challenges of wireless technology
Some companies do face challenges when implementing wireless technology in their maintenance and inventory operations.
One of them is retraining the existing workforce to make use of the capabilities of the new system to the maximum. Additionally, the implementation of wireless technology can also require a moderate to large investment initially, which often doesn’t sound appealing to upper management where maintenance is looked at only as a cost center.
However, many businesses are still opting to invest in wireless technology for maintenance management.
The reason for that is actually simple.
The production industry is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of proactive maintenance and its potential to provide high ROI. The only way to have an efficient maintenance department is to switch from reactive to preventive maintenance or implement a methodology like condition based maintenance and support it with a mobile CMMS.
And all of that is practically impossible to do without first implementing wireless technology.
Combining Wireless Technology with CMMS
We can’t talk about wireless technology in maintenance management without mentioning mobile CMMS.
The ability to connect any mobile device to your wireless network allows maintenance technicians to quickly and easily log their maintenance work, look up critical asset information and exchange important information in a matter of seconds.
If you are using some monitoring sensors to track the status of your equipment and inventory, wireless technology gives you the ability to feed all of that information into your CMMS which gives you a deep insight into your whole maintenance operations.
In light of the above, it is apparent that wireless technology is leading the maintenance management sector in an increasingly automated direction, where near-real-time information makes decision making better and faster.
For improved safety, quality and profit, companies are choosing wireless technology for their maintenance needs. They recognize that the future lies in data-driven decision making that speeds up the maintenance cycle and optimizes the entire workflow.
In order to not be left behind, businesses that require asset and equipment maintenance, as well as inventory management, should look into how they can leverage CMMS and wireless technology in these areas. With rapid adoption of wireless technology in the consumer markets, it was inevitable that maintenance chain would also be able to utilize it.