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Maintec: Moving forward in changing times

09 December 2016

Maintec 2017 will be supported by a programme of educational content that will focus on how technologies enabled by the Internet of Things are set to transform the role of the maintenance engineer

This is an exciting time for maintenance engineers as the advent of Internet of Things-enabled technologies change the ways that products are made and serviced.

Greater connectivity across industrial environments will provide companies with far better visibility of their assets, bringing the potential for smarter factories based on preventative maintenance methodologies.

It will also transform the way that equipment is monitored and repaired out in the field, leading to the emergence of new service-based business models using cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality and wearables.

These are just some of the forward-looking trends that will be discussed at Maintec 2017, the UK’s leading maintenance and asset management show, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC from 21st to 23rd March.

Educational programme

Reinvigorated under the new ownership of Western Business Exhibitions, the Maintec show will be accompanied by a wide-ranging educational programme, featuring global perspectives on topics such as predictive maintenance and how to implement connected technologies across factories and products. 

“We felt it was important to increase the educational aspect of Maintec to reflect the rapid pace of technological change in the industrial sector,” says Tim Else, Event Director. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionise the way that modern maintenance engineers go about their daily tasks and it’s important that this trend features prominently at the show. 

“Already we are seeing manufacturing companies using sensors to collect and analyse data at every point of production, meaning they can predict failures before they occur. IoT is an enabler of condition-based modelling, and will unleash the true potential of predictive maintenance regimes. Furthermore, by fitting sensors to equipment out in the field, manufacturers also have a better idea of how their products perform in real-world operating environments. All these topics will be discussed at Maintec, which will make for a stimulating and forward-looking event.”

White paper

The show is being supported by the publication of new research that addresses how the IoT is set to change the way that maintenance engineers go about their roles. The research is presented in the form of a white paper - The Future of Maintenance Engineering: How the Industrial Internet of Things Will Deliver Smarter Factories with Reduced Downtime and Lower Repair Costs.

The white paper gives many examples of forward-thinking companies that are employing IoT technologies to improve the way they service products. Aero-engine giant Rolls-Royce, for example, has long-since embedded its aircraft engines with sensors so that performance data can be collected and transmitted in-flight. If anomalies are detected, maintenance teams and spare parts can be mobilised for immediate action, once the plane has landed.

This approach has enabled Rolls-Royce to expand from an being an aircraft engine maker to become service-based provider, allowing it to charge customers for ‘power by the hour’.

But Rolls-Royce has now taken its IoT capability one step further, moving beyond current levels of proactive monitoring of engine health and inflight performance. In a new arrangement with Microsoft, an expanded network of sensors will be combined with digital technologies such as advanced analytics and connectivity to enable Rolls-Royce to collect and aggregate data from disparate, geographically distributed sources, merging information on engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel usage to detect anomalies and trends. This additional insight will help airlines to fly routes more efficiently, and therefore reduce delays. It’s a transformative step in IoT capability that will allow the aviation sector to integrate much broader quantities of operational data.

The whitepaper also highlights how the ThyssenKrupp industrial group has used IoT technologies to transform the way it does business. ThyssenKrupp was an early adopter of predictive maintenance, installing its lifts with a suite of sensors that can collect and send real-time data to the cloud, with the information provided used to calculate the remaining lifetime of key components and systems, flagging issues before they occur. Valuable machine data, such as door movements, trips, power-ups, car calls and error codes, is collected from lifts located across the world, providing precise and predictive diagnostics to technical teams in real time, indicating where intervention is required.

A recent addition to this capability has seen ThyssenKrupp work with Microsoft to equip its on-site technicians with mixed reality HoloLens headsets, that will provide them with visual indicators in their field of view to assist with repairs. ThyssenKrupp says that its data driven approach to maintenance has cut lift downtime by up to 50%, and that the introduction of the mixed reality headsets has the potential to reduce the average length of its maintenance teams’ call-out times to a quarter of current levels.

“The emergence of IoT infrastructure and the introduction of new technologies such as augmented reality and wearables will ensure that the role of the maintenance professional will change dramatically,” says industry analyst Lee Hibbert, the author of the white paper. “The move towards predictive methodologies means the role will become less about how quickly maintenance staff can fix assets, and much more about preventing equipment from failing in the first place. Reading data and taking decisions is not the same profile as changing parts on a machine.”

Free conferences

These sorts of trends will be discussed in full at Maintec, which will feature two content streams, amounting to more than 15 hours of free conferences and seminars with more than 30 industry figures, taking place across three days. Confirmed speakers include Steve Brambley, a director at Gambica, the trade association for instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory technology in the UK, who will speak about smart maintenance, focusing on how the industrial base can get involved with IoT demonstration efforts. Professor Rajkumar Roy, director of Through-life Engineering Services Centre, Operations Excellence Institute at Cranfield University, will speak on how digital technologies will underpin the concept of continuous maintenance, focusing at the foundations and technologies required to offer such service.

Meanwhile, Cyril Deschanel, head of IoT in Northern Europe for Vodafone, will discuss the role of IoT-enabled technologies in supporting reliable preventative maintenance programmes, while Chris Mitchell, principal consultant at US-software giant PTC will look at how augmented reality and wearable technology will change the way that factory equipment is maintained. 


In addition to the conference activities, the exhibition halls at Maintec also promise to be packed full of clever companies showcasing interesting technology. Maintec 2017 is expected to feature more than 100 exhibitors, covering a wide range of sectors including electric motors, pumps, lubricants, hydraulic equipment, vibration analysis software and safety products. There will also be interactive demonstration areas, where visitors can view machinery and safety equipment in operation.

The show is expected to attract more than 5000 delegates from leading companies. Maintec 2016, for instance, had visitors from blue-chip companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley Motors, Rolls-Royce, Network Rail and Robert Bosch. 

“We’re expecting it to be a really busy event,” says Tim Else. “Maintec is strategically located with three complementary exhibitions – The Health and Safety Event, The Fire Safety event, and Facilities Management – so visitors can really make the most of their time away from their day jobs. Overall, there will be more than 400 exhibitors, with no fewer than eight focused educational theatres.”

The Maintec show is supported by several high-profile organisations, including Institute for Automotive & Manufacturing Advanced Practice; Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades; Society of Diagnostic Engineers and British Compressed Air Society. “Maintec really is a chance for the entire maintenance and asset management community to come together in one place,” concludes Else.