How to use Wearables in the Factory: Impact on Service and Maintenance (2/4)

About this series:
This series of articles introduces four different application areas for the use of smartwatches in industrial settings. I will cover a few examples and summarise the main benefits that smartwatches offer for manufacturing operations.
In case you missed it, here is the first article.

Application area 2: Service and maintenance

Maintenance and service workflows improve the efficiency of equipment and machines by better utilising the available resources. The reduction of set-up and inspection times as well as machine downtimes is the ultimate goal to increase value-added processing time.

Wearable devices such as Industrial smartwatches help to reduce inspection times and downtimes of machines:

  • The integration of state-of-the-art smartwatches into a larger industrial automation system allows the setup of a fully-digital coordination system for manual work. Sequential work tasks can be parallelised and long process running times can be shortened significantly.
  • Notifications on the smartwatch alert workers and minimise reaction times as well as waiting times.
  • Step-by-step workflows guide service and maintenance personell through the process.
  • By equipping the technicians with all required information right away, roundtrips can be avoided, e.g. for fetching correct tools and spare parts.

Lets have a look at two solution examples:

Example 1: Optimising machine configuration

Smartwatches reduce setup and inspection times with step-by-step instructions and by improving work coordination.

  • Step-by-step instructions for machine setup and inspections: Step-by-step instructions on how to set-up or configure a machine can be shown on the smartwatch. This allows the worker to act efficiently and reduces errors.
  • Efficient work coordination: Depending on the type of a machine, setup times can be really long. In many cases, such times can be reduced by parallelising the required tasks. Technicians equipped with smartwatches can be coordinated efficiently by using the notification capabilities of the smartwatch. A scheduling system for parallelising tasks can be deployed: Workers can accept, approve or delegate tasks directly from their smartwatches, thus reducing waiting times that usually occur with fixed and sequential work schedules.

Example 2: Reduce machine downtimes

Smartwatches help to reduce unplanned machine downtimes by facilitating preventive maintenance workflows and sending real-time alerts in case of malfunctions:

  • Real-time alerts: Smartwatches provide real-time notifications and alerts and thus ensure timely troubleshooting. Alerts can be routed to dedicated experts or groups of responsible people, e.g. all service technicians. In addition, some systems support flexible task assignments based on skills or proximity/location.
  • Preventive maintenance: With a preventive maintenance approach, maintenance tasks can be planned well-ahead to avoid unplanned downtimes. Such tasks can then be assigned to service engineers. All repair instructions can be presented as step-by-step workflows to ensure correct implementation of the required actions.

As you have seen, the use of smartwatches has positive impact on Service and Maintenance:

  • Machine setup times and downtimes can be reduced
  • Reaction times can be increased with real-time notifications
  • Roundtrips for technicians across the shopfloor can be avoided
  • Compliance to repair standards can be ensured with fully-digital step-by-step instructions
  • Data quality about performed maintenance tasks can be improved

What are your thoughts on using smartwatches for Service and Maintenance? Please let me know! Or continue reading about further application areas:

1. Smartwatches for Quality management

3. Smartwatches for Manual assembly

4. Smartwatches for Logistics