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Maintenance software for industrial production
Maintenance in industrial production is under enormous cost pressure. Read in our guide how the digitalization of maintenance processes with the help of maintenance software for industrial production can help to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce costs.
What is meant by maintenance software?
Maintenance software for order planning is a digital tool that allows orders for maintenance or repairs to be assigned to maintenance staff. It replaces manual planning via a planning board or Excel-based planning. It enables both drag-and-drop planning per order and automatic planning over several orders for a specific period and a specific group of maintainers. The required qualifications for the orders are also taken into account when assigning them to the employees. The software also ensures the permitted workload of the maintenance staff according to working hours per day and shift.
For order processing, the maintenance staff use a maintenance app instead of paper. They use it to receive their orders and can view all information about the order and the plant - even offline. After maintenance or repair, they document their work in the app, report back their working time and material used, and can transfer completed checklists, forms, or photos back to the backend system via the app.
The dispatcher is always informed about the current processing status of the orders via the status feedback from the maintenance staff.
Where is maintenance software used?
Generally, companies from the mechanical and plant engineering, production, energy supply, medical technology, facility management, and IT and telecommunications sectors use software for operation planning and mobile apps for the maintenance of their own production facilities. However, there are also service providers, for example in the industrial services sector, that specialize in maintaining companies' production facilities. These companies can be medium-sized businesses or large corporations that employ at least 20 maintenance staff per plant and have one or more sites.
For which types of orders can you use maintenance software?
With maintenance scheduling software, both planned maintenance and inspections as well as unplanned repairs can be planned. The maintenance planner can also assign orders to several maintenance staff as so-called pool orders. A colleague from this group can then reserve the order for himself or take it over directly.
If a maintenance technician discovers a defect in a system, he can also create an order himself in his maintenance app. He can then also process the order himself and create a confirmation for it.
How can you use maintenance software?
Many manufacturing companies that do not yet use maintenance software concentrate on the corrective maintenance of their plants and only carry out the absolutely necessary maintenance. Preventive measures, however, significantly minimize the risk of equipment failure and increase the service life of high-tech machines. Maintenance software supports the following strategies:
Preventive or planned maintenance
Here, the technician carries out maintenance measures according to a certain cycle (runtime, performance), regardless of the degree of wear of the plant or machine. This can be, for example, the replacement of oil on a plant after a certain period of time. The focus of this strategy is to increase the service life and availability of equipment. However, this involves higher costs, as parts are also replaced that have not yet reached the end of their life cycle.
Condition-based or condition-oriented maintenance
The technician regularly checks the condition of a plant and compares the actual condition with the target condition. If there are deviations, he can carry out a maintenance measure before a machine breaks down. Since this strategy only replaces or repairs parts when really necessary, this approach is significantly more cost-saving. Permanent monitoring by sensors (condition-based monitoring) is also possible. The disadvantage of this strategy is the high cost of constant checks.
Predictive or proactive maintenance
Plants and machines provide measurement and production data that can be used to derive maintenance requirements. For this purpose, the systems and machines must be equipped with appropriate sensors and connected to the Internet in order to send the data to the service manager for evaluation. If remote maintenance is not possible, it is also up to the technician to carry out the maintenance measure on site.
What are the goals and benefits of maintenance software?
Companies that introduce software for operations planning and mobile maintenance in production usually have precise goals and expectations. In addition to the pure digitization of processes, these often include the following:
- Improving data quality: with a mobile app, maintenance staff can directly capture data and information about on-site plant maintenance activities digitally, including photos. This improves data quality compared to paper-based recording, where documents can be lost, filled out illegibly, or not done at all. A complete database documenting the number, causes, duration and measures taken to rectify faults in real time also provides the basis for optimizing maintenance processes.
- Increasing plant availability: Better data quality in combination with preventive and predictive maintenance measures ultimately leads to fewer failures and shorter downtimes. In addition, this can increase the service life of assets.
- Higher productivity of maintenance workers: Via an app, the maintenance worker receives the orders directly on his mobile device instead of picking up paper-based orders from the shift supervisor. This way, he receives all information about the plant on his device and keeps it even in offline mode. Replacing paper documents with digital maintenance plans, spare parts lists, checklists and orders makes it easier and faster to document maintenance and repairs.
- More efficient spare parts management: By digitally mapping stock levels in a mobile solution, maintenance staff can see at a glance whether a spare part is available in stock or can order it if it is no longer in stock. The digital recording of consumption creates transparency and offers potential for optimization in inventory management. In addition, digital spare parts management saves unnecessary walking.
- Integration of external service providers: External technicians can also receive repair or maintenance orders via central resource planning software and thus be integrated into the workflow. They can then process their orders on the move in the same way as internal staff and create feedback.
- Reduction of rework: By capturing data digitally, feedback from maintenance staff on orders flows directly into the ERP system (SAP PM), eliminating the need for manual transfer of paper forms. This saves time and reduces potential sources of error. In addition, legally required documentation and proofs are thus archived in an audit-proof manner.
- Adapting maintenance to production output: With maintenance software, time cycles of maintenance can be easily and quickly adapted to production volumes. With production load-dependent maintenance, the machines are inspected according to their usage and too frequent or too little maintenance is avoided.
- More transparency through central planning: The use of a central deployment planning solution significantly improves the transparency of employee utilization. The maintenance planner receives notifications of a malfunction either from a machine operator or through an automatic error message from the system itself. He also has to schedule the maintenance that is due in good time and distribute it among the available maintenance staff. Scheduling software shows him which maintenance personnel are available and have the necessary qualifications. This enables him to combine maintenance and repairs in such a way that all colleagues are optimally utilized and production is disrupted as little as possible.
- Improving occupational safety: Step-by-step, digital instructions for the maintenance or repair of equipment with a high risk potential can help to ensure that employees are better protected. For example, digital walk-through forms can map specific warnings that the maintenance worker must first read and confirm before proceeding to the next step.
Ultimately, the digitization of maintenance processes helps to reduce costs in the long term. By saving paper and time, increasing employee productivity and process efficiency, and reducing plant and machine downtime, companies can significantly reduce their maintenance investment.