It can ruin your day: Unplanned downtime of critical-path press equipment negatively impacts entire organizations – from the shop floor to the executive suite. Sadly, studies show most instances of press failure were preventable, if early warning signs were detected and managed appropriately. Emerging technologies, which rely on increased on-board press intelligence, are remedying these precarious situations and contributing to the reduction of unplanned downtime and increased shop floor productivity by offering maintenance teams a glimpse into the future; transforming maintenance efforts from reactive, to proactive.
One industrial manufacturing OEM is leading the charge with regard to advanced preventive maintenance technology. Beckwood Press, a manufacturer of custom hydraulic presses and the Triform line of sheet hydroforming presses, is using their experience with state-of-the-art press system controls to monitor the performance of their equipment, in order to provide automatically-generated updates on the press’ health and performance.
The resulting early warning system – which Beckwood calls “On-Board Pre-Preventive Maintenance” (PPM) – is engineered to alert the necessary personnel before unplanned downtime negatively impacts productivity.
A Beckwood press for an automotive-industry customer, outfitted with On-Board Pre-Preventive Maintenance technology
Press health monitoring
When early indications of required maintenance arise, Beckwood press systems outfitted with the On-Board PPM (Pre-Preventive Maintenance) technology pinpoint the affected component and send notifications to the press support team, or other selected individuals.
Beckwood’s PPM System relies on advanced, closed-loop monitoring devices to perform real-time analysis of the press system’s health, including alarms & warnings, pump efficiency, safety systems status, oil health, filter status, valve performance and more.
When the acceptable operating parameters – established by Beckwood prior to shipment – are breached, notifications are displayed on the human-machine interface (HMI) and emailed to key members of the press’ maintenance team as well as the Beckwood service team. A summary report of the press’ performance is also automatically generated and sent at regular intervals. This automatic, early-warning system allows Beckwood press users to identify potential issues before unexpected downtime occurs, granting them the ability to schedule press maintenance when most convenient, per the equipment’s production requirements.
The PPM system also automates the regular verification that integrated safety devices are working as intended, by keeping an on-board calendar and intuitive procedure for the required verification.
Once each week, the operator is guided through a mandatory verification process to ensure all on-board safety systems are functioning properly. The process offers operators, managers and company ownership a certain peace of mind that the press’s safety systems, including light curtains, E-Stop buttons, die blocks and other installed safety devices, are functioning as-intended.
This quick, two-minute process doesn’t impede production, yet helps ensure the press’s safety systems are functioning as intended.
Beckwood’s On-Board PPM system monitors, among other variables, oil health. Hydraulic fluid particulate count and size, water content and oil temperature are monitored in real-time, with automatic notifications being sent when acceptable ranges are breached.
The PPM system makes it unnecessary to remember or schedule factory-recommended maintenance due to built-in PM Scheduling and Notifications. All factory-recommended preventive maintenance schedules are programmed into the press control system. When upcoming maintenance is required, reminder notifications are sent to the operator by way of the HMI, to the user-company’s maintenance team via email, and to Beckwood’s own service technicians.
When the preventive maintenance is performed, the maintenance technician is guided, step-by-step, through the required tasks, via the press HMI. Confirmations of each step’s completion is logged through the touch screen and saved in the press’s PPM record, with the name or employee ID number of the person completing the process being tied to the procedure. Upon completion of the factory-recommended preventive maintenance procedure, confirmations are sent, again, to both the user’s selected group, and to Beckwood’s own service team.
If the recommended maintenance is not performed on schedule, automatic reminders are provided periodically on the HMI, and via email. This shift in scheduling responsibility, from the maintenance crew to the press itself, helps ensure that the press equipment is properly cared for and maintained.
Sample Safety Check Procedure Screen from the On-Board PPM System
PressLink remote connectivity
In addition to emerging technologies, like PPM, on-demand connections between the press systems and the OEM’s service & support team are becoming increasingly common.
Using Beckwood’s PressLink module, the company’s trained service and support technicians can log-in to the press remotely, which provides a series of benefits. Primarily, diagnostic assistance and remote troubleshooting can be provided without an on-site presence of a service technician.
“In the vast majority of instances, issues can be identified and resolved remotely,” said Dan Frederich, the company’s Customer Service Manager. “Customers operating with PressLink devices benefit through a faster response time, since service technician travel is bypassed,” he continued.
Those instances which ultimately do require on-site assistance can also benefit from the PressLink devices, as the troubleshooting and diagnostics efforts done remotely help zero-in on the potential issue, reducing on-site troubleshooting time.
Beyond troubleshooting and diagnostic assistance, the PressLink module allows certain control system upgrades to be uploaded remotely, and can be a conduit through which training is provided to new operators or maintenance technicians.
“Shortly after receiving their custom hydraulic press, one particular customer relayed to us that the addition of a specific function button on their control screen would add value to their process,” said Frederich. “While on that initial call, Beckwood’s service technician logged into the press, uploaded the requested button and asked them to restart the HMI. When the screen re-booted, the requested button was present. This was all within a 15 minute time period, without the travel time and expense which would have been required just a few years ago,” he concluded.
The future of manufacturing is here. It includes intelligent equipment designed to help manufacturers eliminate unplanned downtime, extend equipment life, and increase overall operational efficiencies.
Keeping Oil Clean
Few preventive measures are so clear-cut with regard to their direct impact on a hydraulic system’s up-time, as oil cleanliness. Contaminated oil leads to extended downtime at best, and major component failure if corrective actions are not taken.
One of the many areas of focus of the On-Board PPM system is fluid health. Manufacturers leveraging the PPM technology are kept informed through automatic notifications. If particulate count begins to rise above acceptable levels, or if the water content in the oil exceeds the system’s standards, early-warning notifications will be distributed to allow maintenance crews to get out in front of any potential problems which might follow.