Internet of Things-enabled technologies to change the face of maintenance engineering
Maintec 2017, taking place at Birmingham’s NEC March 21-23, will be underpinned by a wide-ranging educational programme, and is being supported by the publication of new research that addresses how the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to change the way that maintenance engineers go about their roles. The research is presented in the form of a whitepaper ‘The Future of Maintenance Engineering: How the Industrial Internet of Things Will Deliver Smarter Factories with Reduced Downtime and Lower Repair Costs’.
The whitepaper and its central themes will be the main reference point for the Maintec 2017 conference programme which will feature major contributors to the paper such as Vodafone. The Future of Maintenance Engineering whitepaper, written by industry analyst Lee Hibbert, forms part of a wide range of enhanced insight and educational activities that will support Maintec 2017.
“The IoT is set to revolutionise the way that modern maintenance engineers go about their daily tasks and we intend to reflect this in our educational programme,” says Tim Else, event director. “Already we are seeing manufacturing companies using sensors to collect and analyse data at every point of production, meaning they can predict failures before they occur. IoT is an enabler of condition based modelling, and will unleash the true potential of predictive maintenance regimes. Furthermore, by fitting sensors to equipment out in the field, manufacturers also have a better idea of how their products perform in real-world operating environments.”
The whitepaper – currently in its first draft, with updates to follow – gives many examples of forward-thinking companies that are employing IoT technologies to improve the way they service products. Rolls-Royce embeds its aircraft engines with sensors so that performance data can be collected in flight, enabling maintenance engineers to mobilise to make repairs as soon as the plane has landed. Industrial group ThyssenKrupp installs its lifts with a suite of sensors that send real-time data to the cloud, enabling engineers to calculate the remaining life of key components. Even pest control firm Rentokil is using IoT-based technology to connect rodent traps so that its technicians can plan their service checks in a more efficient and time-saving manner. The whitepaper also looks at how maintenance engineers are starting to use advanced IoT-enabled technologies such as augmented reality to improve the way they repair faulty equipment. Companies such as Vuforia are supplying software that can transform tablets into augmented reality devices, displaying data such as flow rates or vibration levels over physical assets. Such technology could also be applied to wearable devices such as augmented reality glasses, where maintenance engineers are presented with key graphics and data in their line of sight.
“These sorts of technologies mean maintenance engineers will be able to work in smarter ways,” says Else. “They will have immediate access to information, delivered in visual ways, rather than having to spend valuable time hunting around for text-based repair manuals. It means maintenance engineers will work more efficiently.”
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