Mobile maintenance: proof of Industry 4.0 payback

20 August 2018

Eberhard Klotz, head of the Industry 4.0 campaign at Festo, demonstrates what contribution Industry 4.0 is already making to the booming automation technology sector today. He highlights the potential improvements in performance and quality of maintenance teams – and thus OEE figures – with rapid return on investment times.

Festo is driving the change towards the digitalisation in industry and is able to demonstrate that Industry 4.0 and digitalisation is far more than marketing hype. What we use as a success factor in our own production environment we also share with our customers. Demonstrating that ‘We are the engineers of productivity’.  

The company is implementing IoT functions and services into its product portfolio, it offers training and consulting to students as well as professionals, and it also uses these latest technologies at its Scharnhausen factory in Germany. 

As a member of the Industry 4.0 platform Festo advises the German government and carries out visionary research through its Bionic Learning Network with autonomous and self-controlling systems such as BionicANTs or the prototypes of interactive, collaborative, pneumatic 7-axis robots like the BionicCobot which was a major player inside a new BionicWorkplace at this year’s Hannover Fair. With its pneumatic robot arm, artificial intelligence and intuitive operating concepts it is capable of learning and enables safe and efficient human-robot collaboration for customised production down to batch sizes of one. Augmented reality supported the HMI, sharing visions for mobile maintenance of the future.

Industry 4.0 from mechanics to the cloud
Getting relevant data out of a machine and all its mechatronic subsystems, and to realise an effective mobile maintenance setup, requires several ingredients. Depending on your production system, it could include seamlessly connected and integrated drive solutions in electric axes as well as pneumatics. (Vision) sensors, quality inspection, tracking information, energy monitoring, connection to logistics and order management/MES.
Festo is already delivering real automation technology products for the fourth industrial revolution including integrated drive packages, modular valve terminals with OPC UA and IOT gateways, decentralised CODESYS controllers and autonomous mechatronic subsystems. In addition, there are IoT driven apps and services, valuable dashboards and complete subsystems. Festo is working to provide consistent connectivity from the mechanics up to flexible and multiple cloud concepts (Festo cloud, Siemens MindSphere, Rockwell Factory Talk) – or into mobile maintenance concepts. 

Mobile maintenance case study 
Three years ago the new Festo technology factory at Scharnhausen was equipped with a mobile maintenance concept. This includes providing iPads for each service/maintenance person which contain the regular maintenance tasks, manuals and repair instructions for all machines, their 15 year history (digitised as a service) as part of a huge knowledge database, and for sure, all error messages from all machines and their devices in real time. 

The iPads are connected to each machine by WiFi and in addition to the factory’s MES – which at Festo is an SAP R3 based system. Basic functions such as email or chats are available as well to ensure there is instant, direct communication with expert colleagues, who may be busy at another machine. Initially, around 50 machines were connected. Today there are more than 100 on the network.

Immediate savings included the distances that the maintenance team were required to travel. Instead of walking back to the central maintenance office regularly, they can now move directly from one machine to another. The repair time per machine has also been reduced thanks software which allows immediate access to all information needed which helps increase the efficiency of the team by sharing knowledge. And, through the chat function, more obstacles can be overcome by remote support from a colleague. The same number of maintenance team members have been able to handle a 30% growth in factory size and machinery, which clearly illustrates the process optimisation and saving potential. Overall this has significantly increased OEE figures and has provided a return on investment (ROI) in under six months.

Additional features can be integrated. For example, individual error messages, e.g. from a sensor connected to CPX/MPA valve terminal from Festo, can be directly converted into a task in the task list, and where they are connected to the same cloud, a pop-up shows the Eplan-based electrical circuit diagram. Automatic asset and logistics management can re-order the broken part/sensor, after checking stock levels.

If, in such a networked factory, all machines delivered their KPI’s via OPC-UA into the central MES system, an online priorisation of all tasks could be provided. Consider five error messages – which is the most important, where are the critical bottlenecks according to current customer orders? This enables value-stream optimisation in real time.

Learning from its own factory experience, Festo developed ‘Smartenance,’ a digital maintenance manager for production supervisors and plant operators enabling paperless maintenance management. Smartenance provides a clear scheduling and evaluation for plant maintenance and provides quick and easy access to digital maintenance. Preventative plant maintenance is a time-consuming process which is often still documented only with pen and paper. Now it is easier, faster and safer. Smartenance consists of two parts - a mobile maintenance calendar as an app for smartphones and tablets on the shop floor, and a web browser interface for managing and documenting maintenance tasks in the office. Intelligent user management and team collaboration makes maintenance management more efficient. Smartenance is simple and quick to install, it is self-explanatory and provides an easy and cost-effective introduction to digitalisation.

Test Smartenance free of charge for one month. If you are interested in Smartenance or have questions about the product contact Festo at

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