The factory of tomorrow is here today, and it’s here to stay. Robotic systems are typically able to work more effectively and efficiently than a fully human workforce. And if they can’t replace the standard workers entirely, bringing in a collaborative robot (cobot) can help a worker perform their job more effectively.
No matter how we look at it, robotic systems and automation in the factory are the way of the future. But what about maintenance? All these new robotic systems will need constant attention to ensure the system is working correctly and no parts are failing, right?
Of course they will!
Except... that process is also becoming automated itself, thanks to the advent of predictive maintenance in robotic systems.
What is Predictive Maintenance in Robotic Systems?
As crazy as it may seem at first glance, predictive maintenance is exactly what it sounds like.
Thanks to recent innovations in artificial intelligence within the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic systems are now able to start monitoring, recording, and analyzing data to predict when parts and components will require maintenance.
This allows workers to replace the worn-out parts or components before they fail entirely or stop the system in its tracks if need be, which can prevent a whole new slew of issues. An automated factory that can not only work effectively and efficiently but also monitor itself and prevent unexpected failure. It’s amazing.
How does it work?
Without getting into the nitty-gritty details of it — we can save that for a deeper discussion — here’s a high-level overview of how predictive maintenance works.
At the moment, the process requires bringing in some third-party software, such as Cisco’s Connected Machines, that connects the robotic systems in a factory together through the IoT and the cloud.
This software then analyzes data coming from the system, such as machine axis patterns or typical time required to perform a task, and monitors everything involved. Using this data, the software can predict when components — such as belts, bearings, splines, gears, etc. — will need maintenance and/or replaced.
The software can also detect changes in the typical patterns of the processes, and report this information to the cloud. From there, the necessary system components can further analyze this new data and determine if the change is being caused by a potential failure.
It can then automatically send out notifications to the factory workers as well as the rest of the system to stop the process if necessary.
What Are the Benefits of Predictive Maintenance in Robotic Systems?
Now that you have a general idea of how predictive maintenance in robotic systems works, let’s take a look at what it can do for you.
Early Detection of Potential Issues or Failure
The biggest advantage of predictive maintenance as it currently stands is the ability to see a potential issue much earlier than you could before. With constant monitoring of every detail of the factory’s robotic systems, this software can detect the slightest change and the smallest issue. These are the types of things that you would never be able to see yourself until the issue got much worse. A millisecond delay in a process. Or an axis rotation or movement that’s off by just half of a degree than normal. Seeing these issues as early as possible can prevent total failure.
Fully Automated Process
It wouldn’t fit into the new world of manufacturing that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is ushering in if it wasn’t fully automated, now would it? So yes, of course, this new technology is a completely automated process, able to analyze data and determine the best course of action all on its own.
Through the connectedness of the factory using the IoT and the cloud-based software, the robotic systems can communicate with one another as well as the predictive maintenance software. If an issue is detected, it’s able to determine what to do next all on its own. Whether that’s notifying the workers, continuing the processes, or shutting everything down — it’s fully automated.
Saves Money in the Long Run
Lastly, the big one — predictive maintenance will save you money in the long run. If you’re able to avoid a massive component or machine failure that could lead to significant downtime or damages, you can potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
The current iteration of predictive maintenance is focused on providing zero downtime, providing accurate enough information early enough in the process to entirely prevent any serious failures.
As time goes on, this type of software will only get more and more sophisticated, and before we know it, predictive maintenance will be preventing massive failures in just about every factory in the world.
We suggest you get in on the ground floor and be on the cutting edge. This new technology will help change manufacturing for the better — forever.
Interested in learning more? Visit our website www.premierautomation.com, or talk to one of our specialists today.