The true cost and impact of factory equipment downtime can be difficult to quantitatively measure on an hourly basis. However, manufacturers’ successes depend on customer satisfaction. Customers get dissatisfied when their products aren’t delivered in time or when they receive defective products as a result of supply chain disruptions, where machine downtime plays a big role.
When a manufacturer has thousands of machines operating in dozens of factories around the world, it becomes a problem of scale. Technicians cannot be in two places at once, so the manufacturers must recruit local technician crews nearby or on-site to address any breakdowns. Even so, manufacturers are still being reactive, and thus impacted by supply chain delays and disruptions, risking customer dissatisfaction.
Is there any way for manufacturers to predict machine failures before they happen and thus prevent downtime?
Fortunately, manufacturers now have the tools and resources to apply “predictive maintenance” on their machines and factories. What makes predictive maintenance possible is the interconnectivity of machines within a cloud network. Connected machines talk to each other and exchange data such as their condition and how long they have been in operation. Smart sensors are used to provide this information.
“Connected machines will be able to tell you they’re going to fail, before they fail. With predictive maintenance, significant reductions in unplanned downtime can save millions of dollars and keep customers happy,” according to PTC.
Tools to Combat Downtime
Manufacturers can now use blockchain technology, AI, and IoT to integrate smart sensors with their machinery and to develop smarter supply chains and manufacturing processes. Doing so will increase visibility into their supply chains and a greater ability to reduce supply chain disruptions through proactive and predictive maintenance.
Another use case of blockchain technology involves machine-to-machine decentralized applications that enable interconnected machines to talk to each other. This is important because machines and components from different makers may not be compatible with each other due to their own proprietary software and specifications. Currently, there is no established industrial standard in production facilities, so it is difficult for manufacturers to get their systems to work together in a plug-and-play fashion. Another negative side effect to this is it creates security holes, making their systems vulnerable to hacks.
ARXUM has already created a potential solution to these problems by using a blockchain protocol involving an IoT node or hardware oracle with a secure hardware wallet. Using a secure hardware wallet solves these problems with an embedded secure machine-to-machine (M2M) DApp. Such DApps help create transactions on the blockchain, gives information about sensor values and events in production machines, and makes micropayments to machines for their services.
Higher Interconnectivity Results in Lower Downtime
In the era of interconnectivity and smart factories, IoT and smart sensors help machines interface with an M2M network to communicate with each other.
Manufacturers can now monitor the status of all parts in all machines in every one of their factories. They can now nip any potential issues before they get problematic enough to cause downtime. As a result, downtime will decrease as maintenance processes become more streamlined, and costs will also drop.