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Predictive maintenance is almost here, but does it actually work?

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More than anything, machine uptime is crucial to a cutting tool manufacturer. Machines that aren’t working properly can take your entire business offline – and cost you a fortune in the process. Is predictive maintenance the answer?

 The market is changing. Today checking your CNC machine status requires the scheduling of preventative maintenance or undertaking a manual investigation. This approach is effective but as with all processes there are ways it could be improved. To do this, the market is investing in the development of technology to enable predictive machine maintenance.

Predictive maintenance is a new alternative to preventative maintenance that uses data from connected machines to make sure they’re running properly.
How is predictive maintenance different from preventative maintenance?

Instead of planning a schedule of regular preventative maintenance checks, predictive maintenance relies on software that continually checks for machine performance issues that could indicate a potential issue is coming up.

This means instead of estimating your machine’s expected wear and tear, predictive maintenance monitors its actual condition. The machine will only shut down if it needs maintenance. If everything is functioning as expected, you can keep operating as normal.

 Unlike preventative maintenance, predictive maintenance happens while machines are running in normal production mode and can predict whether something is going to go wrong in advance, allowing you to make adjustments or schedule just-in-time maintenance.
How does it actually work?

Predictive maintenance software makes checks for early warning signs at off-peak times that suit you. Many CNC machines - including ANCA’s - come with a range of sensors and diagnostic tools that perform different functions to help you see what’s going on in the machine. For example, spindle and motor wear sensors can check bearing life, machine wear, and tool integrity.

Because predictive maintenance software is connected to an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, this data is available in real time. Vendors are able to dial into the machine remotely to check temperature and vibrations, and make sure it’s working to the right output.
Maintaining your machine’s productivity through daily checks will remain important in this new world. Using a combination of preventative and predictive maintenance together will be the best way to keep operations optimised. Predictive maintenance will take care of what might go wrong, while daily checks on coolant and regular cleaning will give your machines the best possible lifespan.
How effective is it?

The predictive maintenance alerts that ANCA machines provide are based on solid data and analysis. We continuously conduct regular FMEA failure mode and effect analysis testing which allows us to better predict when something will fail. For example, based on our testing we can predict expected motor life, but this will vary depending on what you are grinding, the conditions of the coolant, and so on. Being connected via a cloud-based product provides greater access to lots of specific information that constantly improves our ability to pinpoint when maintenance is required.

With predictive maintenance you will be able to set up alerts and notifications for anything, from ambient temperature to overheating electronics. Everything can be customised according to the machine and what it’s doing – a tool that didn’t load, rising temperatures or vibrations exceeding a range of tolerance. Each data measurement can be calibrated to your specific requirements, so you will always have the right information at your fingertips when you need it.

Predictive maintenance will try to get ahead of catastrophic failure. And while it can’t prevent everything, the early warnings it can provide can be the difference between a quick fix and major shutdown. If you have service level agreements or deadlines that must be met, knowing about any issues in advance will allow time for a vendor to come and make any necessary fixes so you can deliver on time.
The biggest benefit: predictive maintenance will save time and money

We know that scheduled downtime can cost businesses $1,000 or more an hour. Once you’re all set up with your software, getting alerts and information won’t cost anything, and you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ll be notified if anything seems wrong.
The future of predictive maintenance is bright

In the future, we expect machines will be able to alert you not only to warning signs but also to useful utilisation diagnostics. Maintenance notifications and solutions will come directly to your mobile device, allowing you to make a machine change with a simple tap of the screen no matter where you are.

Machines will eventually be able to fully evaluate how they’re performing, let you know when something goes wrong and even order the replacement parts themselves. This means any disruption to the supply chain will be flagged with time to spare, so you can focus on running your business and leave costly downtime in the past.

14 July 2021