Automation IIoT

Digital Platforms Join TPM And IIoT

Grant Gerke | February 13, 2018

This screen display, created by The Aquila Group, alerts operators of scheduled maintenance events within their area of responsibility for their respective machine.

The buzz around digital platforms in manufacturing has a lot to do with advanced automation and the ability to move machine data to human-machine interfaces (HMIs) or to enterprise systems. However, successful asset management also involves dependable work processes, along with technical solutions.

Total productive maintenance (TPM) aligns nicely with IIoT’s (Industrial Internet of Things) mission statement of more actionable data on the plant floor. TPM provides an operator with the ability to perform basic maintenance routines for a work center and, in theory, relegate larger reliability issues to the maintenance staff. Taking on more predictive/preventive maintenance routines, reporting on deteriorating machine conditions earlier, and providing more support in specifying new plant equipment are examples of this shift.

One company facilitating this type of solution is The Aquila Group Inc., Sun Prairie, WI (, an automation solutions and consulting company providing a range of manufacturing solutions, including a manufacturing-execution system (MES) called the Dynamic Machine Management (DMM) platform and the Green Light Monitoring data acquisition platform.

DMM makes it possible to create, collect, distribute, and manage manufacturing information, instructions, and performance metrics in real time. “The system enables management to create customizable dashboards that alert operators of scheduled maintenance events (within their area of responsibility) for their respective machines,” explained David Wilmer, vice president of manufacturing systems design at The Aquila Group. “The operator completes the events, and then a digital maintenance record can be shared with multiple departments or technicians.”

Green Light Monitoring is a software platform that manages and automatically performs OEE calculations. In conjunction with the DMM platform, the monitoring system can feed machine data to business systems for long-term trend analysis and record maintenance data in one action with little to no operator involvement.

For example, the monitoring system can create a cascade of questions in real-time to operators experiencing a micro-stoppage for a machine, such as a failure alarm for low oil. The system will then generate a series of questions around the low-oil alarm and cascade these questions, such as how much oil was added to that machine. “You can acquire micro-stoppage data for OEE calculations, but now you’re also using that micro-stoppage data as a maintenance component,” added Wilmer.

This national consulting company works with many sheet-metal manufacturers, such as Eaton, Siemens, and Fiat. In addition to these large companies, Aquila can also create customized, data-monitoring solutions for small- and mid-sized companies looking to modernize operations with minimal capital outlay.

“Predictive-maintenance solutions are now in reach for smaller companies due to lower implementation IIoT costs over the past ten years,” said Wilmer. An essential ingredient of machine data visibility is interoperability between devices. Third-party companies, such as The Aquila Group, are providing this much-need expertise for enterprises. EP




Grant Gerke

Grant Gerke

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