Is Maintenance Best Done Using The Cloud?

Here, Jonathan Wilkins explains why cloud computing is such a valuable asset to maintenance engineers

Mnet 176924 Cloud Maintenance

The current flaw in Nectome’s plan is that its technique must be the cause of death – in essence, it must kill the person for the brain to be preserved. The company is yet to demonstrate an uploaded brain, but it poses the question, has cloud computing gone too far?

Cloud computing, and the resulting as-a-service business models, have drastically changed the way many businesses operate. Whether it’s a product, software or even artificial intelligence, you name it, you can rent it.

The cloud offers a myriad of benefits to manufacturers — connected systems able to communicate across the internet can be easily integrated. Hardware costs and investment in IT infrastructure is drastically reduced, which crucially means that companies don’t have to invest in their own data centers.

Using cloud-based maintenance application also means there’s no need for time-consuming or costly updates – the cloud provider updates and maintains the server and the application software. Reduced upfront costs can make it an extremely attractive option for small businesses.

Access All Areas

Cloud-based computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) can be accessed by web browser or app, meaning that wherever maintenance staff are located they can get hold of the relevant information.  Maintenance can be planned, scheduled, monitored and automated from the web browser. Maintenance technicians and managers can be confident that processes are traceable, by accessing an up-to-date manual or log online in real-time.

Cloud applications can cut costs, increase speed and improve management of maintenance data and analysis. However, the main benefit is increased machine uptime.  By equipping components and machines with sensors, maintenance staff can be alerted of a problem before a breakdown. This used to only be possible for large machines, but technology like the ABB Smart Sensor has enabled the relaying of information from AC induction motors on status, based on temperature, current and vibration.

Data from the shop floor can then be orchestrated — filtered into meaningful information — by the cloud application and used to move from reactive maintenance to proactive. By adding machine learning, maintenance can be improved and staff can increase their understanding of their processes and which factors impact productivity.

Maintenance teams can monitor their inventory and check when spare parts, such as obsolete industrial equipment, needs to be ordered from a supplier. This reduces the time the facility is down and minimizes damage.

So, though you probably don’t want your brain uploaded to the cloud, there are many benefits to uploading your maintenance. 

Jonathan Wilkins is the marketing director at EU Automation.

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