Operation and Maintenance Must Be Integrated From the Equipment and Products Design Stage
Over the past few years, profound changes within maintenance services, in particular the adoption of preventive maintenance, have led companies to take equipment operating conditions and industrial maintenance issues into account from the equipment design step. The aim of this approach is to ensure maximum equipment quality, availability, reliability and safety, as well as to facilitate future maintenance interventions, on which production output partly depends.
Before taking the full measure of this new type of engineering, some companies first had to suffer some failures, including Setforge, the forging subsidiary of material transformation specialist Farinia Group and early user of Mobility Work. After having encountered difficulties related to maintainability on clamps used to grasp white-hot metal blanks of 7 kg, 1100°C, and subject to very high thermomechanical stresses, the company had to re-engineer them. Thus, with the help of industry 4.0 solutions, including the next-gen maintenance management platform Mobility Work, Spartacus3D, an innovative company specializing in metal additive manufacturing, created LETo, in partnership with the CTIF (French technical center for Foundry Industries).
This metal additive manufactured robotic clamp presents technical characteristics which were studied and optimized for the forging environment. Discover the history behind this collaboration, and the benefits observed by the maintenance and production teams.
Industrial maintenance indicators involved in decision-making
Next-gen industry 4.0 maintenance management tools such as Mobility Work are intended to be at the heart of the company, and to serve as a database and analysis tool for all departments: maintenance, purchasing, quality, production, but also design and engineering offices.
Some unsuitable designs can lead to high operating costs (energy consumption, cleaning costs, spare part replacement costs, maintenance contract costs, etc.); others, due to their difficult spatial or technical arrangement, can lead to substantial adaptation work being carried out, causing other unnecessary expenses. Furthermore, difficult or even inaccessible maintenance conditions can also lead to less service quality and premature equipment aging.
These malfunctions can be avoided or minimized by taking into account operating and industrial maintenance issues from the design stage, even within pre-manufacturing studies; the goal is to limit investments, improve the qualities and the technical environment of the piece of equipment, but also to protect the human factor (working conditions, service provided to the customer, etc.). This process thus involves staff training and awareness to this concept, as well as technical expertise expressed through various tools (reliability diagrams, causal trees and failure analysis, specifications).
Controlling the future behavior of a piece of equipment resides in the preliminary definition of all the factors and elements likely to influence its evolution; it is about analyzing the various factors of dissatisfaction using a powerful tool.
Mobility Work's analytics tool makes it possible to generate in real time a precise analysis of the main issues on a piece of equipment over a defined period of time, based on data from several systems: intervention time from the CMMS, spare parts consumption or external services orders from the CMMS or ERP, etc. This BI tool comes in the form of customizable graphics and dashboards, and provides access to essential information, such as keyword analysis in this case.
The term "clamp" (“pince” in French) stands out clearly in the cloud of keywords appearing below, indicating a significant recurrence in task and activity descriptions. We can also see that the keyword "mechanical" is by far the most widely used label, which makes it possible to draw rapid conclusions about the industrial maintenance issues encountered on this piece of equipment.
Analyzing and taking maintenance issues into account
Using Mobility Work’s information, Setforge’s team, in partnership with Spartacus3D, was able to highlight the most recurrent industrial maintenance issues on "traditional" robotic clamps:
- reduced service life (6 months) due to wear or breakage and to temperature and various stresses;
- short garnish structure life, which had to be changed 16 times a year, due to carbon deposits;
- ineffective welding of a cooling system on the clamps, without any added value;
- frequent change of the interior of the clamp, which screw used to break due to shocks and thermal expansion.
Beyond the purely technical aspect and the challenges faced by maintenance teams, these maintenance issues lead to downtimes that are detrimental to the company's productivity and profitability. Furthermore, additional operations related to the various functions to be integrated after receipt of the clamp’s elements represent a waste of time for the industrial maintenance service. That is why the design of these different parts also needs to be reviewed. Productivity gain is not necessarily the first element to take into account since it is not a blocking point for production, but it can easily be improved by redesigning this part.
Maintenance issues must therefore be taken into account from the design step, and various improvements must be made. From these observations, several areas for improvement emerged, including :
- opt for another material that is better able to meet the thermomechanical stresses exerted on the clamps. Inconel 718® was chosen because, after heat treatment, it is known for its very good corrosion resistance and hardness;
- improvement of strains dimensioning (clamping, press, vibrations, and mass of the blank), taking into account output fluctuations.
Metal additive manufacturing thus made it possible to obtain a less expensive part because of its greater longevity and maintainability, lighter thanks to the complexity allowed by this method, and for a reduced manufacturing time.
Then, the part has to be engineered in order to validate the functionalities of the clamp, to see if it will resist all the strains to which it will be subjected, then to study its manufacturability using a software.
Benefits for the maintenance service
Following a designing or redesigning process taking into account the piece of equipment’s operating and maintenance issues, two types of benefits can be observed: indirect gains for the maintenance service and field technicians, in particular the time spent on the equipment, but also direct gains on the price of the part. Indeed, metal additive manufacturing allows to save time thanks to reduced and "on demand" manufacturing times.
Both mechanics and production teams noticed significant time savings: by integrating certain functions from the design stage, maintenance technicians are able to gain availability. Over one year of redesigning, mechanics benefited from a reduced assembly time (interior of the clamp, garnish structure), welding time (air circuit and the interior of the clamp) and maintenance time, particularly when changing clamps or the garnish structure.
By comparing time savings with the past year’s, particularly for mechanics, the following results are thus obtained:
|Production time saved||3,2||hours|
|Time saved - garnish structure||4||weeks|
|Time saved - clamps||8||weeks|
|Time saved mechanic||5,5||hours|
As for the production department, technicians observed a decrease in equipment and production downtimes required for certain maintenance interventions, such as changing the interior of the clamps or the garnish structure, which will now only be changed once a year, compared with twice a year before.
Equipment durability, investment optimization, expense reduction, reduction of technical constraints for operational staff... Taking into account operating conditions and maintenance issues from the design stage in the current competitive context is indispensable. Resorting to industry 4.0 techniques and technologies allows you to observe benefit in the long term: a next-gen CMMS such as Mobility Work supports you not only in the analysis necessary for the designing phase, but also throughout your equipment’s lifetime. Thanks to the equipment page, follow their history, add tasks and activities, schedule your industrial maintenance, and benefit from very precise feedback in the analytical tool to help you improve your maintenance routines. To learn more about our different features, do not hesitate to watch our video presentation.
Spartacus3D is a Mobility Work Official Service Provider. Like this company, provide more than 8,000 users with your services on the first community-based maintenance platform! Or if you want to use their services, do not hesitate to contact them directly on Mobility Work, in the Official Providers tab in the search results.