Maintenance and Upgrades of Automated Systems

Maintenance and Upgrades of Automated Systems

We would like to demonstrate the right attitude, the right planning, and the right automation partner you need to maximize the longevity of your custom automated machine or robotic system with maintenance and upgrades. A properly maintained machine can yield decades of quality with minimal interruption. The application of upgrades, additions, and updates to your automated system can keep your technology relevant, your production competitive, and your savings consequential. By combining a focus on maintenance and upgrades on your automated systems, you can revitalize old manufacturing lines, modernize your production capability, and model the success of the most lucrative companies in the world.

Maintenance for Automated Systems

There is no ignoring maintenance for your automated systems. Every automated machine or automated system requires maintenance for safe operation, continuous runtime, and consistent uptime. Your integrator should provide plans, manuals, and training. These strategies, if implemented according to instruction, should extend the lifespan of the machine, limit interruptions to your production, reduce repair costs, and prevent unplanned downtime.

Designated Automation Maintenance Team

Only trained maintenance personnel, designated crew, or members of the machine integration team should be allowed to fix the machine, perform maintenance, or conclude that the machine is in safe operating order. They need to be fully capable of understanding all indicators. They also need to take ownership of the regular maintenance schedule. A competent maintenance crew takes ownership of the following responsibilities when running maintenance on your automated manufacturing equipment. If you do not already have a maintenance department and you are getting automated equipment, discuss maintenance and support with your integrator.

  • Schedule- The automation maintenance team holds the company accountable for regularly scheduled maintenance. They track when production must accommodate maintenance, they notify other team members when this will take place, and they perform the maintenance on schedule. They impress the importance of the schedule on any team member including owners and management.
  • Repair- The automation maintenance team repairs the automated system, replaces parts, and performs routine maintenance on the machine. They perform maintenance on a schedule and do ad hoc maintenance as needed.
  • Part management- The automation maintenance team tracks the lifespan of any regularly changed parts and keeps inventory of relevant suppliers for those parts. They budget for and stock replacement parts. They keep a list of wear items and PO for wear items and long lead components.
  • Monitoring equipment- The automation maintenance team manages and maintains any gauges, dials, human machine interface displays (HMI), or other monitoring equipment devices. They interpret these sensors and monitors and communicate the status to the team. They use this equipment to investigate issues and communicate if there needs to be ad hoc maintenance. They make sure any software, firmware, or interoperable equipment is up to date.
  • Training- The automation maintenance team sustains their authority on maintenance procedure. They gate maintenance responsibilities behind training that prepares new maintenance crew for equal authority to maintenance crew standards. They maintain training materials, make them available to automation maintenance team members, and hold necessary refreshment training. In the event of upgrades or updates, they include any new routines or responsibilities in the training curriculum. 

System Maintenance Checklist

Each custom automated machine integration should include training on the appropriate ways to check your machine and make repairs. The machine should also include features that help maintenance crew understand the operating status of the machine and finish necessary upkeep. Full checks must be done before operation, after repairs, during scheduled maintenance, and after any latest updates or upgrades to the automated system. Each checklist should include a space to document discrepancies and recommendations for improvements to the technology. When working with custom automated technology, each maintenance check is going to require specifics to that machine. Consider this general automation maintenance checklist to get you started:

  • Visual Inspection- Compare the structure of the machine with the original design documents. Confirm that the architecture matches the expected diagram. Check exposed areas for damage, wear, and debris. 
  • Cleaning- Clean the system with approved cleaning products.
  • Operating System- Check the system for new patches or version updates. Review and record the function of each install and package. Install patches and patches. Test any functions related to the new update.
  • Data Logs- Check the system for all records of programs. Review error logs, recorded warnings, and anomalous patterns. Investigate and document the root cause of the issue. Target recorded errors and issues for documentation, review, and repair.
  • Emergency Brakes- Test that the machine follows emergency brake and reactivation procedures as outlined in the maintenance guide. Test hit the estop. Simulate power loss, confirm that the machine follows safe path to reactivation and normal processes.
  • Performance testing- Run samples of all Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and compare them to expected output and performance. Use both internal data recording and outside measurement devices to check benchmarks and goals. Inspect products for quality control.
  • Data Integrity- Confirm that recorded data in the data logs match the output quality, speed, and consistency captured by outside recording equipment.
  • Repair- Fix any damage or issues. Replace worn or damaged parts. Catalog the dates and times the repairs took place and who took them. Take actions to fine tune, optimize, or service the machine. Report any major repairs or maintenance concerns to stakeholders.
  • Documentation- Check training and operator manuals to confirm documentation for latest updates. Update the manuals and guides as needed. Keep documentation consistent with an internal style guide.
  • Lubrication- Grease or oil your linear and rotational motion
  • Monitoring- Check for excess backlash and lost concentricity in your linear and rotating components 
  • Conveyors- Check your belts 
  • Inventory- Lastly make sure to order new stock of wear components

Upgrading Your Automated System

While maintenance extends the lifespan of your automated system, upgrades evolve your existing automated system. Upgrades can add processing power, production options, and data gathering improvements without requiring you to start from nothing with a new automated system. These types of upgrades come in the following forms:

  • Operating System- The software and firmware in your automated system can be adjusted, reprogrammed, or patched to improve efficiency and control. These types of upgrades can even be done remotely by your automation integrator. When working with a quality automation systems integrator, they can even provide you with the training needed to self-program new improvements.
  • Hardware- A quality automation systems integrator designs their custom automated system with room for physical upgrades to existing components. Better structural parts, more advanced embedded hardware, and peripherals can cost effectively improve your production capacity.
  • Secondary Processing- Take your existing custom automated system and extend it with secondary processing. Add a custom machine tending automated system, pick and place automated system, or packaging and palletizing and palletizing system to your existing automated system. 

Quality Machine, Quality Partner

The best preventative maintenance happens in the first step: partnering with a quality custom machine integrator. Well engineered solutions require less maintenance. The ideal machine designer and machine builder handles every step of the design in house with a single source vertically integrated team. They involve no third parties, cross collaborate for maximum quality, and allow institutional memory through the entire process. They tackle issues, potential delays, and optimization with company wide mobilization. They get it right on the first go.

They design their machines for self-sufficient maintenance, cost effective upgrades, and ability to add on during growth. They train for self-sufficient ownership of custom automated systems. They keep lines of communication open for support, expert repair, and future additions to industrial manufacturing capacity.

Automated Systems Maintenance Contracts

When you settle for no less than expert support, sign up for an automated systems maintenance contract. 

  • Cost-effective- Repair at lower cost than premiums on per diem repairs. Discounted labor, engineering, and parts. 
  • Swift repair- Instantaneous access for remote trouble shooting with your machine. Provisions for onsite inspection and repair.
  • Automatic Upgrades- Operating system software and firmware upgrades applied automatically through interoperable IIOT network.
  • Automatic Scheduling- Multiple plans for annual, semi-annual, and quarterly onsite maintenance and testing.
  • Engineering Authority- Guarantee that the same qualified team of manufacturing experts, engineering specialists, and project managers that built your machine maintain your machine. Save time and effort on establishing institutional memory, machine competency, and business rapport.
  • Preventative Maintenance- Offload the minutia of preventative maintenance scheduling and service to a qualified team of experts that know your technology top to bottom.
  • Remote Diagnostics- Have an experienced integration team remotely track your cycles, performance, and data collection. Get reports on unusual patterns, warnings about issues, and recommendations for improvements.

DEVELOP LLC knows how to integrate a safe automated solution for longevity. Tell us more about your project, schedule a virtual meeting, or call (262)-622-6104 to learn how to plan maintenance and upgrades for your future automated solution.