Breaking down business risks through machine health visibility

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Breaking down business risks through machine health visibility

When it comes to managing risk in an industrial business, many consider damage through natural disasters and fire or explosions to be of great concern, because they can cost a company dearly. But there are common interruptions such as machinery breakdowns that are often overlooked and, who says that these don’t cause any fires or explosions themselves?

In the Allianz Risk Barometer 2019 global report, the impact of business interruption (BI) was identified as the major risk for companies. According to the report, 37% of responses ranked BI as one of the most important risks companies face. In terms of the type of BI feared the most, 28% of respondents said machinery breakdown was of great concern. What was alarming is that the average cost of machinery breakdown to a business was reported to be €0.54mn (~$600K USD). This is money businesses can’t afford to lose, especially in the current economic environment.

With a lens into manufacturing, managing machine health is an effective way to reduce company risk. Before the advent of Industry 4.0, machine maintenance has primarily been reactive or preventive. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has introduced better ways for production and maintenance staff to make the most of their machines. Both teams have disparate goals, with production looking into maximising uptime, while maintenance plans and executes what deems to be necessary downtime, which has proven quite costly and not always necessary to the business.

The ways many manufacturers have managed their maintenance haven’t changed for a long time, but now there is an opportunity to drive higher rates of production and reduce BI risk. Whilst preventive and reactive maintenance have their good intentions, one needs to ask – is there a better way?

Balancing maintenance, production and risk management

In an ideal world, manufacturers want machines to run longer but there are numerous risk factors which can impact an operation. This includes efficient uptime and downtime of equipment, reducing unpleasant BI surprises and navigating the loss of production through outdated maintenance practices. The evolution of Industry 4.0 has been the cornerstone in transitioning their equipment maintenance to continuous condition monitoring so that machines are serviced only when needed and a higher production throughput is guaranteed.

With continuous condition monitoring, staff can see how hard the equipment is working and understand the impact on the health of their machines. It also helps to reduce the BI risk, alleviating the concerns of production, operations and other stakeholders involved, increasing the certainty around customers deliveries. In summary, allows for improved BI risk management because real time machine feedback enables production and maintenance staff to continually see what’s going on.

Production, Operations and Maintenance managers should be the main stakeholders in discussions around IIoT because they’re the teams responsible for keeping everything running. Conversations around machine health visibility are key – these teams need access to the data behind their machine performance, to inform important decisions on when to interrupt business production or keep pushing their equipment to maximise business revenue. The ultimate benefit of understanding machine health is that production, operations and maintenance teams can potentially drive higher revenue through continuous production, which then becomes a revenue enabler on its own.

Overcoming trust issues

Manufacturing is a competitive industry by nature but within organisations where teams often work in silos to deliver the best results for the business, having trust amongst divisions brings a number of challenges. Relationship building tends to get overlooked due to the fast pace and constant pressure in the manufacturing environment; there is little room to work on it when you’re constantly at the mercy of repairing unplanned downtime.

IIoT empowers staff with knowledge from real time equipment and machine monitoring, so they can engage maintenance when and where needed. Because both production and maintenance operate with the same reliable (and shared) data, they can see what action is really needed and make informed decisions on downtime – building further trust whilst maintaining visibility within the business. It also provides that peace of mind knowing machines can run harder and longer for continuous production.

Garnering and maintaining the customers’ trust is equally important and using IIoT data helps to drive more production certainty so that your customers know you can deliver; it helps secure your commitment to your clients and the confidence of your customers who rely on your products.

The potential for continuous condition monitoring

Continuous condition monitoring powered by IIoT isn’t new but it’s still in its infancy. It’s helping many manufacturers in transitioning to a new way of maintaining their machines and business health. Whilst technology is ‘easy’ to change, getting the support of staff to understand the value of IIoT and its BI reduction potential requires a paradigm shift, which is never as easy. Although it is achievable through creating the right conversations with the right stakeholders who are willing to solve their most pressing business challenges, together.


Brad ParsonsThis article was written by Brad Parsons, the CEO and Founder of MOVUS, the developer and provider of FitMachine®, a continuous condition monitoring solution supporting industrial businesses across the globe in several industries, including heavy manufacturing, mining and minerals processing, food and beverage manufacturing, chemicals, rendering, and energy.