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Manufacturers have always looked for opportunities to integrate their operations, reduce costs, invest effectively, and maintain high quality. In automotive, high-tech and electronics, consumer goods, and other manufacturing sectors, optimizing maintenance costs can help create more value, and new digital technologies make it more practical and more important than ever to understand your maintenance needs—and their root causes.

Cloud technology and the Internet of Things are making it possible to remotely monitor and diagnose equipment under almost any conditions, assess existing scenarios, fix equipment before it fails, and reduce your overall maintenance costs. It’s just a matter of aligning the right technologies and processes with your business needs.

Start with total productive maintenance

The goal of total predictive maintenance (TPM) is to maintain all the equipment in a system in peak working condition. It combines reactive, preventative, and predictive processes to avoid breakdowns and delays in manufacturing processes. Predictive maintenance is undoubtedly the hardest, but it’s likely the most valuable.

With the right big-data tools, your engineers can use vulnerability mapping to assess equipment and track failures. Then they can employ predictive analytics to set KPIs, provision service dates, coordinate stakeholders, and optimize costs. They can use failure analyses and material accident analyses to identify the root cause of breakdowns and avoid the costs of corrective action.

Know what I call life cycle cost (LCC), the total cost to maintain a piece of equipment over its useful life. LCC includes the costs of acquisition, installation, operation, service, repair, and finally disposal. Use IoT-enabled sensors to collect performance, error, and service data from equipment under production conditions. Then analyze that and other data to develop a life-cycle maintenance profile, reduce downtime, maximize equipment life and performance, and avoid high costs for emergency replacement.

TPM can help you generate insights that can be significant—and surprising. It might show you that a few drops of oil twice a month could save the cost of a recurring breakdown, or reduce energy consumption, or extend equipment life by two years.

Live the details

You can’t optimize maintenance costs and make the right equipment investments if you don’t know the details. But with the right data and the right processes, your organization will make better decisions about how to invest money, resources, and employees.

Use cloud connectivity and business intelligence to manage materials and supplier relationships. Set preventative controls for issues such as offsite repair and spare parts. Make sure maintenance planners, programmers, and technicians know the costs of each maintenance process and the value of each item in the field. Finally, monitor the results as you go, and fine-tune your equipment maintenance for long-term business sustainability.

Kick out the jams

Until recently, these types of processes were impractical in industries where conditions can force production shutdowns to service, diagnose, or repair equipment. But you can break down those barriers with IoT, remote-sensor, cloud, machine learning, data analytics, virtual reality, and mobile technologies.

Microsoft is here to help. We combine deep digital experience with the manufacturing expertise that helps you choose the right digital path to optimized equipment maintenance.

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