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Maintec: In full swing

22 March 2017

This is an exciting time for maintenance engineers as the advent of Internet of Things-enabled technologies changes the ways that products are made and serviced and visitors to Maintec 2017, which takes place this week (21st to 23rd March, NEC) will be able to discover more on the subject.

The event's educational content focuses on how technologies enabled by the Internet of Things are set to transform the role of the maintenance engineer 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. Reinvigorated under the new ownership of Western Business Exhibitions, Maintec will include a wide-ranging educational programme, featuring global perspectives on topics such as predictive maintenance and how to implement connected technologies across factories and products. 

Tim Else, event director at Western Business Exhibitions, explains: “We felt it was important to increase the educational aspect of Maintec to reflect the rapid pace of technological change in the industrial sector. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) 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. IIoT 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.”


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

The whitepaper 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.”

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Golden opportunity for the UK industrial sector (headline)

Maintec conference speaker David Wright, director general of the United Kingdom Lubricants Association, shares his thoughts about the potential of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0/Smart manufacturing offers a golden opportunity for manufacturing to integrate seamless digital technology in effective production processes, and that should realise greater economies of production, improve efficiencies and keep UK industry as a world leader in innovation on the global market.

UKLA’s position is for the sector to embrace this new technology and take advantage of this change. For maintenance professionals, this digital revolution will mean more sophisticated management systems supported by big data, better self-monitoring of scheduled maintenance activities and an accelerated move away from the reactive maintenance processes of the past to embrace integrated pro-active maintenance operations of the future.          

Smart manufacturing is a natural evolution of an integrated system management approach to condition monitoring enabled through better digital integration in the production process. One of the benefits of such an approach is the quicker identification of maintenance risks before they become real issues, leading to greater advantages in the possible reduction in the number of serious maintenance issues and resulting costs. 

The danger with the so-called 4th industrial revolution is that it could deskill production personnel to the level of computer operatives when exactly the opposite is needed. For industry to thrive and take advantage of Industry 4.0 there absolutely must be an upskilling of those involved in the production process to be more adept at problem-solving and trouble shooting. If smart manufacturing through better digital integration gives people the ‘what’ – ie. what is happening in production? - then people need the skills to ascertain the ‘why’ – ie. why is this issue occurring and what remedial action needs to be taken to ensure continuity of production? Smart manufacturing needs smart employees more than ever.

In lubrication, we have seen trends such as the move towards fill for life systems and extended service intervals placing even greater demands on the role that lubrication plays at the heart of any effective maintenance system. This can only increase going forward. In the future, we can expect better remote and continuous condition monitoring through the use of smarter diagnostic technology all helped, supported and enabled through Industry 4.0.


Free conferences and seminars

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.

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.

Round tables

In addition to the primary conference sessions, Maintec 2017 will also host a series of round-table panels with interaction from the floor.

The Maintec Dialogue discussion groups, which will be free-of-charge to delegates, will cover a wide-range of technical topics.

Sessions include: From condition monitoring to condition/reliability improvement, focusing on how condition monitoring can be used to improve the reliability of rotating machinery, covering early detection of fault conditions and detecting situations that may lead to bearing failure. This group will be led by Dean Whittle from the RMS Reliability Training Institute.

A session on Advances in compressed air technologies and maintenance planning will be led by Marion Beaver, technical officer at the British Compressed Air Society, while Maintenance in hazardous environments will be fronted by Tim Marks, Associate Secretary of the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades.

There will also be Dialogue groups addressing softer issues, such as: Addressing the maintenance skills challenge, which will look at how the industrial sector can work together to find, develop and retain the manufacturing and maintenance workforce of the future. This group will be led by Peter Willmott of consultancy SA Partners.


In addition to the conference activities, the exhibition halls at Maintec also promise to be packed full of 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. 

Tim Else continues: “We’re expecting it to be a really busy event. 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. 

To register your interest in attending Maintec 2017, please visit www.maintec.co.uk