Preventive Maintenance of Your MES Application Pays Off – Here’s Why
Unplanned downtime due to machine failure is costing companies thousands of dollars with each passing hour. Specifically, $532,000 per hour in large plants, according to Senseye’s ‘True Cost of Downtime’ report. While businesses of all sizes already utilize preventive maintenance practices to help minimize unplanned downtime, their MES software often gets forgotten.
The adaptation of Preventive Maintenance (PM) tools and processes that allow manufacturers to extend asset lifecycle is on the rise, due to the significant shift driven by the fourth industrial revolution. Big savings aside, utilizing AI and machine learning on the shop floor to detect developing defects before they escalate has a major impact on the end product’s quality and speed to market.
MES software is no exception here, or at least, it shouldn’t be. With the solution being such an integral part of the company’s ability to remain competitive and relevant, it’s crucial that MES evolves and changes alongside business requirements. And that’s what MES maintenance is at its core: apart from fixing bugs and latent errors to avoid unexpected outages, preventive measures also strive to improve the solution on an ongoing basis to adapt and ensure the robustness of daily operations at the lowest cost possible.
How does preventive maintenance of MES work?
Preventive maintenance (also known as Preventative Maintenance) refers to a set of processes, precautions, and actions performed to extend the usable life of operational assets and ensure they work efficiently to maximize business value. Unlike reactive (or corrective) maintenance, in which defects are eliminated once they’re noticed, PM acts proactively to eradicate issues before they become a full-blown crisis on the shop floor.
The same principles apply to preventive maintenance of an MES solution: spot and deal with potential problems before the chain reaction of software outages and line stoppages ensues. Some service providers, including our Application Maintenance team, strive to detect defects even before the shop floor users report a fault. MES maintenance involves proactive activities such as daily monitoring or troubleshooting, while maintenance tasks are scheduled around the production. Furthermore, our MES consultants always begin each new project with a “health check” of a solution designed to assess its overall condition. Those health checks become later a part of the regular PM schedule.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it?
Although preventive maintenance of MES might seem like an unnecessary cost at first, especially if it’s performing just fine, the benefits speak for themselves:
Reduced unplanned downtime through early error detection.
Since maintenance works are scheduled on a regular basis, companies can plan to mitigate risks related to dealing with issues. This, in turn, gives you the opportunity to take proactive measures with minimal to none disruptions to the production. Frantic, corrective actions turn into planned, intentional tasks that significantly reduce the likelihood of unexpected failure, and the costs that follow – idle labor time, restarting lines, and financial penalties.
Constant monitoring and avoiding performance degradation.
Manufacturing Execution System, just like any other piece of equipment, is bound to degrade with time. Constant monitoring and timely preventive actions help detect a drop in performance, and in many cases, even before the decline becomes noticeable. Moreover, continuous monitoring also helps expose gaps in efficiency that come with time and ever-changing business requirements. With regular MES maintenance, these issues never escalate, giving MES consultants time to create a solution that enhances the software as a whole instead of just patching things up.
Improving reliability & customer satisfaction.
The fewer unplanned downtime occurrences, the more efficient and reliable product lifecycle management will become. When your shop floor activities coincide with operational assets working as intended, including MES software, you will start producing higher quality products faster.
The smart way to delay the inevitable
Sooner or later, your MES solution will start showing signs of degradation. But with the right approach and the right people by your side, the inevitable can be delayed. Since dealing with MES software is by no means a walk in the park, the safest and simplest solution would be to outsource it to specialists. Aside from doing all the heavy lifting for you, a team of experienced MES consultants will also assess and plan for mitigating risks and reducing the unscheduled production downtime to a minimum during maintenance hours.
Considering the complexity of the task, and the fact that MES is often a mission-critical component of stable, continuous operations, it’s important to choose a service provider right for your business. For example, choosing Andea means having your own, dedicated ‘Focus Team’ that acts as an extension of your on-site staff, available to you 24/7. Andea’s specialists begin each project with the ‘health check’ we mentioned earlier to establish the solution’s general condition, and later becomes a part of the ongoing maintenance. MES health checks provide our consultants with a broader view that allows the identification of core issues or areas to optimize that aren’t yet reflected in the software’s performance.
The last piece of delaying the inevitable comes down to three things: having the right set of monitoring tools, setting up the right triggers and notifications, and having the right team analyze the data and determine the best course of action. MES knowledge comes mostly from experience, and less seasoned professionals might misinterpret the data and react inadequately, further escalating the issue.
Investment, not a cost
It’s important to think about the preventive maintenance of MES solution as an investment, not a cost. Although the hard work focuses on the software & hardware, your entire organization benefits:
- Your shop floor staff is more productive and has higher job satisfaction as the number of unscheduled downtime events decreases,
- Your IT department is no longer overwhelmed by dealing with MES-related issues and can dedicate more time to high-value activities,
- Your company becomes more efficient and scalable since MES works smoothly and as intended.
Every piece of equipment – manufacturing software, machinery, tools – can cause unexpected downtime if not looked after properly. Investing in a service provider to take care of your MES is a solid contingency plan to avert the crisis and keep the solution running smoothly and efficiently. Reach out today to find out more about how our Application Maintenance team can support your business.
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