The maintenance of equipment, machines, vehicles and other equipment usually involves a lot of labor-intensive activities that have employees working at full capacity. The maintenance tasks of the employee are usually coupled with a certain predefined deadline so that in addition to the strenuous tasks, an immense time pressure also prevails.
The maintenance process is a recurring process in the same pattern that involves repetitive tasks. Traditionally, you need the necessary tools, the content of the maintenance order and further documentation in order to realize the activities in the maintenance process. In order to achieve relief and higher stringency, standardization, (semi-)automation and support by new technologies can be particularly useful. We will highlight this with a practical example below.
Challenges in the maintenance process at Siemens Power Generation Services
The Siemens Power Generation Services Division from Mülheim an der Ruhr offers a wide range of innovative products and services. These products and services are designed to provide customers with utilities, oil and gas, and to enable industrial processing with significant reliability and performance of their rotary power plants. Furthermore, Siemens Mülheim offers digital services that enable its customers to set up new business models, improve their services and consequently increase their profitability.
The findings process, meaning the inspection of the plant, is an eminently important area of the service portfolio of Siemens Mülheim, which is to be constantly improved. That’s why Siemens decided to offer a challenge at RuhrSummit 2018 to improve this maintenance process.
Corporate Challenge Pitches at the RuhrSummit 2018
13 business challenges from nine medium-sized companies and groups from the Ruhr area, 120 startup applications from all over Germany and topics such as AI and predictive maintenance – the winners motivated by prospective pilot projects with the companies:
That was the RuhrSummit 2018 and we were in the middle of it. On October 10, 2018, the Neohelden participated in the pre-event of the RuhrSummit and presented the digital assistant “Neo” in front of a high-value audience in two business challenges. We were able to decide on both business challenges for ourselves: The Business Challenge in the maintenance process with Siemens from Mülheim is presented in this article.
Neo in action: the smart implementation of the maintenance process
The findings in the maintenance process should be simpler, more efficient, more comfortable and, above all, more resistant to errors. We faced this challenge with our digital assistant “Neo”.
Neo, the assistance system of the Neohelden
By default, Neo offers the ability to interact quickly and easily via the Neo app, so that information, images and videos can be digitally captured instantly, centrally stored, making it evaluable. Increased interaction through Neo’s Conversational Interface through speech or text – in the form of chatting – increases employee productivity.
Neo can be used beyond company boundaries (for example, by customers or suppliers) and can be used across platforms (iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux).
Configuring Neo is possible without programming knowledge, so that individualization wishes can be realized without development effort or new developments.
The daily use of Neo enables the long-term automation of processes, analytics and predictive aspects, as well as the individual and contextual interaction with employees.
Since we take occupational safety equally seriously in the maintenance process, we have extended the challenge to run our Neo assistance system on data glasses so that the employee can interact hands-free with the findings – without an auxiliary device in hand.
Neo on the data glasses Realwear HMT-1
As a part of the Selection Day of the Startup Autobahn Program 6 in January 2019, we encountered the company Realwear and were immediately impressed by their data glasses for industrial use: the HMT-1. That’s why, in agreement with Siemens, we decided that we would take the Neo diagnostic process to the HMT-1 data glasses.
That was also possible without further effort, because the digital assistant Neo is platform independent and can be used on the data glasses HMT-1 because they use an operating system, Android, which we already supported. With the integrated voice control, the speech recognition is done directly on the data glasses and noise filtering takes care of very loud ambient noise, which is filtered out, so that the findings in the speech interaction are undisturbed by background noise. Especially when interacting with Neo via the data glasses, a low-contrast surface is helpful: The eye-friendly dark mode that Neo provides is ideal for this case.
Maintenance processes with a digital assistant
With Neo, our digital assistant for business, we can generally improve the following aspects of the maintenance process on the data glasses:
(1) Standardization of the maintenance process through predefined process flows
By predefining the findings process and supporting the system, the maintenance process can be standardized. The uniform procedure in the findings process can be used to collect highly structured data that makes it possible to increase the quality and efficiency of the maintenance process. In addition, this increases the transparency, since findings are made comparable this way.
(2) Mobile and hands-free documentation in the maintenance process through voice interaction
When recording results on power plants, it is enormously important that the employee can concentrate on their actual work – recording the findings – and not be distracted, such as by the handling of pen and paper for the logging of the maintenance process.
(3) Input support of maintenance information through metrics
Smart support with the aid of defined metrics and accessibility enhances the quality of the employee’s work, as they can no longer enter incorrect information. The data recorder can also add information, pictures and videos directly to the checkpoint.
(4) Supplementing ad hoc checkpoints or supplementing maintenance steps
As part of the diagnosis, the prioritization of inspection points can be changed on an ad-hoc basis and additional inspection points can be added. Especially if the back office has insights into the current diagnostic process, the fact finder can be served with additional information with the help of Neo. Also, the recorded information can be evaluated directly, so that a continuous process improvement and better planning is possible. In addition, when editing the recorded data less time is required and thus cost savings are achieved.
(5) (Semi-)automation of tasks and reports in the maintenance process
The findings report or the maintenance record is created in real time as part of the maintenance process by requesting the inspection points, creating image material and recording technical and other information. After completing the maintenance work or taking the findings, the report can be saved or sent directly. In this way, the digitally recorded report can be further processed centrally so that complete documentation can be guaranteed. With the increased quality of the findings, the customer satisfaction is increased without annoying paperwork.
Contrary to the traditional “client vs. contractor” roll definition, we experience the cooperation with large companies – and especially Siemens from Mülheim – as very pleasant and respectful at eye level. With this in mind, we sincerely thank Jan-Hendrik Schmitz, Matthias Thesing, Lea Stakenborg and Dieter Affeldt, as well as the RuhrSummit team, who created the initial meeting space for this collaboration. We are looking forward to furthering our cooperation.