Predictive Maintenance: A New Paradigm in Heavy Equipment

In the day-to-day operations of heavy equipment, maintenance is the most accessible point to overlook. It is observed that there is always negligence in oil changes, brake system maintenance, and other vital checks and maintenance tasks. However, if you fail to maintain your vehicles, it directly impacts productivity. Timely and quick maintenance is a crucial factor in off-highway equipment. Trucks and equipment used in the construction and mining industry are expected to operate 24/7 at remote locations. Sometimes higher procurement costs and monetary limitations make it difficult for fleets to optimise operations and productivity. Extreme environmental conditions create havoc on fleets if they are not regularly maintained. In the event of a breakdown, fleet owners could incur high costs, which take substantial time and effort to repair.

Predictive maintenance can help fleets avoid breakdowns while reducing maintenance costs by predicting when parts will fail based on performance data and other information. However, this data-driven solution is still in a nascent stage, and questions about monetary investments, integration, and other issues must be answered before a widespread shift in industry practices can occur. Predictive maintenance is a part of digitisation, which can even help in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-cloud connectivity. The connected vehicles utilise advanced automation technologies and hardware such as modular controls, sensors, and I/O systems, equipped with condition monitoring functions bringing all kinds of new functionality to drivers, operators, and fleet owners.

Gain the benefits of predictive maintenance

There is a substantial monetary investment associated with maintenance, but it saves far more than the investments over time. Heavy vehicles which are adequately maintained run more efficiently with lowering fuel and maintenance costs. It also suffers fewer on-site breakdowns, which lead to costly delays. The benefits of predictive maintenance are substantial! Many manufacturing setups have already realised its importance and employed this Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution to maintain optimal product quality, improve equipment reliability and increase overall efficiency. Industrial IoT is opening new doors in terms of accuracy and efficiency for companies regarding predictive maintenance.

Reduced costs: Predictive maintenance solution can maximise vehicle efficiencies and help to forecast the areas of cost savings which are often unnoticed or takes too much time to trace through traditional paper-based maintenance practices.

Integration of predictive maintenance solutions doesn’t cost much, but unexpected repairs and replacements can be expensive. Engine and other components don't fail without reason. Neglect maintenance gives way to minor problems developing, which can become significant with continued neglect of vehicle maintenance.

The cost-saving benefits of predictive maintenance solutions are numerous. The solution provides the flexibility of a desktop app that can collate and update real-time information of vehicle and paper-based administrative work can be reduced, and productivity of the vehicle increases by creating more time to complete tasks.

Predictive maintenance solution provides a huge database with many tools and reporting, which can help detect vehicle failures and improve efficiency. In a way, vehicle maintenance extends the engine’s longevity and other components and reduces the need for an early replacement. Thus, it helps in reducing repair costs as well.

Extend the life of vehicle: Integration of the predictive maintenance solution can help prevent costly repairs of the cooling system, transmission system, drivetrain, and many other components.  Preventive care reduces the wear and tear of the engine that extends the life of the vehicle.

Increased safety: A vehicle breakdown at a remote location or in mines can be a dangerous situation. A driver or maintenance team never predicts what may happen when the vehicle is stranded. Condition monitoring treads of tires and air pressure is essential for vehicles.

Choosing the best in predictive maintenance

The modular X90 control and I/O system can now be equipped with condition-monitoring functions. Problems can be detected in their early stages and corrected before they result in unplanned downtime. Condition-based predictive maintenance can maximise machine availability and save the considerable cost of outages and arbitrary service calls. The X90 module allows operators to monitor the status of mobile equipment continuously. The results help determine exactly which components require maintenance and when.

Typical applications include continuous monitoring of rotating parts such as hydraulic assemblies, belts, gears, and motors. The processed sensor data is also available for further use in the application. GPS monitoring has become a standard feature on many construction vehicles. Not only does this allow them to be located, but it also makes it possible to track their movement and record their hours of operation. Many large mines are situated in very remote areas and are difficult to monitor from a company's central control base. In such cases, GPS can provide information on failed vehicles on the field so that nearby vehicles can move to help resolve the failures to minimise downtime.

B&R’s X90 control system has integrated safety technology. Intelligent safety functions and extremely short response times are the keys to a whole new realm of possibilities for the safe operation of outdoor equipment and mobile machinery. B&R provides a variety of TÜV-certified safety functions. The task of safety programming itself involves little more than simply configuring and linking the safe software blocks via a ladder diagram. This reduces the complexity, workload and time required for certification.

All products in the X90 mobile family are designed for use in harsh industrial environments. They can handle operating temperatures from -40 to +85°C and are resistant to vibration, shock, salt, UV light, and oil. Adherence to specific industry standards for agriculture, forestry, construction, and municipal vehicles ensures maximum flexibility when using mobile automation products. In addition, the X90 mobile control system also carries numerous certifications.

Future outlook

The available solutions for predictive maintenance and digitalization make it easy for fleet management companies to stick to a suitable maintenance schedule. It brings incredible benefits. Just by integrating the predictive maintenance solution, one can keep several vehicle problems at bay. Preventive measurements reduce the wear and tear of the engine and other components that extend the vehicle’s life.

Article courtesy: B&R Automation