Respondents to the American Machinist 2006 Benchmarking Survey-told us that, on average, 50 percent of their equipment maintenance is reactive, down from 60 percent three years ago. Because the cost of reactive maintenance is inevitably more expensive than preventative maintenance, reducing reactive maintenance is a goal many shops share but too often find hard to achieve.
One problem shops have is finding the time to capture all the data needed to know when a machine needs preventative maintenance, and the other problem is finding the time to actually do that maintenance. There is no magic wand that can give a shop more hours in the day, but a software package released by Maintenance Technologies (www.maint-tech.com) at IMTS is designed to reduce the time and effort needed to monitor machines to gather preventative-maintenance data and to keep track of a wide range of machine utilization and productivity data.
The software package is called Freedom E-Log Production Asset Management software, and it uses web-based reporting to provide realtime and historic data about machine tool availability and utilization. The customer can set up a reporting hierarchy of machines, work cells, groups of cells, entire plants, groups of plants, etc., and Maintenance Technologies provides the customer with a server and software for each plant. The servers are connected to individual machines via Ethernet connections and automatically capture data from the machines' OPC and digital interfaces, including data from external sensors associated with each machine.
Additional information can be entered by operators through point-and-click choices or through the keyboard on a computer associated with the machines. The servers at each plant can be networked via the Internet so that anyone authorized to view data from machines in any plants in any country can do so from anywhere.
In addition to recording machine utilization and availability, alerts can be added to the data to notify operators when it is time to do various preventative-maintenance functions. For example, if a customer wants to check spindle balance on a machine after a certain number of hours of operation, he can enter an alert, and when the spindle reaches that number of hours, the operator and anyone else monitoring the machine's utilization will be alerted that it is time to check the spindle. As an alternative, a vibration sensor can be used to alert the operator when the spindle vibration exceeds a predetermined level.
The software package can be used to track operator and shift performance, provide trend reports for multiple instances of each NC program use, provide automated data charts with a rich description of machine events during any time period and much more. The information can be used not just for scheduling preventative maintenance but to fully optimize equipment, programs and schedules and thereby increase machine and overall productivity.
Maintenance Technologies says their software can be used on "... any machine, any cell, any control." Maintenance Technologies is a business segment of MAG Industrial Automation Systems.