Posted on: 28th February 2019

Faster. Cheaper. Smarter. All companies are under pressure to achieve more with less, not least with their maintenance programs. But while ‘faster’ and ‘cheaper’ maintenance are quite easy to picture, what about ‘smarter’?

This is where BioPhorum’s Smart Maintenance: Digital Evolution for Biopharma Manufacturing paper comes in.

Different approaches

There are different ways to approach equipment maintenance. A company can wait until something breaks and then fix it, but this reactive approach may have a big impact on manufacturing continuity and resource planning.

Or it can be done using a scheduled program, but this may be inefficient in terms of people and spares, and will not fully prevent failures.

Or a company may use predictive actions where equipment is monitored using sensors to forecast the best time for preventive maintenance, but this needs lots of real-time data, artificial intelligence and a higher level of digital maturity.

There are lots of benefits to moving up this increasingly smart maintenance path because the more the predictive the work, the less that regular maintenance is needed – and there will be fewer unpleasant surprises of equipment failing at crucial times.

But there are also some challenges. These include matching working practices to the level of digital maturity and ensuring any investment is part of a wider digital transformation program. What also stops people from improving their maintenance situation is being unable to clearly articulate the value of an investment in terms of lowering costs, improving asset use, removing unplanned activities, etc.

BioPhorum’s Smart Maintenance paper will help readers meet these challenges and more.

A smart tool

The paper defines what ‘smart maintenance’ means to the biopharma industry and sets out a yardstick to measure its maturity. It also gives readers a tool to assess their ways of working and level of digital maturity (by mapping this to BioPhorum’s Digital Plant Maturity Model), so they can make a case for investment and justify adopting higher levels of maintenance practice.

Burkhard Wandelt, Director Engineering & Technology at Merck KGaA, said “The Smart Maintenance paper will help us to better frame the contribution of maintenance with our digital maturity transition by understanding where we need to build, in which capabilities and where to invest in digital and predictive technologies.”

The paper will also help readers consider the meaning of success in areas such as operating costs, availability of key equipment and systems, reliance on human knowledge, attracting and retaining talent, compliance and interactions with suppliers.

Looking ahead, the next phase of the workstream’s program will focus on advanced predictive maintenance and the related challenges of accessing and exploiting data.

The future of maintenance lies in moving from the ‘reactive’ to the ‘predictive’ and eventually to the ‘adaptive’ (self-learning and self-healing). ‘Smart’ maintenance is about matching best practices with the benefits/costs/restrictions in a particular situation. What do your future maintenance plans look like?

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