Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROGRAMS (PROGnostics based Reliability Analysis for Maintenance Scheduling)

Considering the increasing manufacturing plant size and complexity, unassisted maintenance management is becoming a losing strategy. Intense and global competition forces industries toward the maximal exploitation of their available resources, including equipment. However, the...


Considering the increasing manufacturing plant size and complexity, unassisted maintenance management is becoming a losing strategy. Intense and global competition forces industries toward the maximal exploitation of their available resources, including equipment. However, the almost uninterrupted use of machines and robots reduces their performances and leads to an increased insurgence of breakages and failures. In turn this leads to higher costs due both to machine unavailability and expensive repair interventions.
An optimal solution to this problem should be based on the knowledge of:
1) the reliability of the components, the costs associated to maintenance and the impact each failure mode has on the whole production equipment. Such knowledge should be sought to select the optimal maintenance strategies and policies for each component.
2) the remaining useful life of each component of the production equipment, that should be sought to determine the best moment for maintenance, right before a component breaks or leads to unacceptable performances of the system / production chain of which it is part of.

PROGRAMS aims to develop methods and technologies that gather and exploit this knowledge to maximize the overall plant availability and minimize the maintenance costs. The main solutions offered by PROGRAMS are:
1) an easy to install hardware system to collect process data and exploit them at machine level;
2) several alternative Remaining Useful Life (RUL) computation methods (including a model-based prognostics method and a data driven approach) for the smart evaluation of equipment conditions;
3) a support tool to speed up the FMECA deployment;
4) a tool for reliability parameters estimation of components based on maintenance reports;
5) a novel Decision Support System (DSS) tool for optimal maintenance strategy determination;
6) a tool for merging maintenance and production schedules with integrated ERP support;
7) a platform to share maintenance and machines related information between involved personnel.

The proposed solutions will be combined into a seamless suite of software solutions that will demonstrate how an integrated approach to the maintenance management can actually lower the costs that a company must face.

Work Performed

During the first 18 months of work, the PROGRAMS consortium has been mainly involved in the development of the proposed solutions, which was preceded by a thorough market analysis and literature review. The market analysis proved that no commercial solution covers all the factory maintenance relevant activities, from data collection to final maintenance and production scheduling. In addition, existing tools require high scientific skills for proper use and offer only proprietary interfaces (not open source nor free), limiting the integration with other tools. The development part has focused on the 3 key layers that form the core of the PROGRAMS platform:
1. Physical Layer: the data monitoring tool on which the predictive maintenance techniques rely is deployed at factory level;
2. Cloud Layer: cloud deployment of solutions allows affordable time and space for elaboration techniques;
3. ICT Layer: an ICT infrastructure and protocols form the backbone for the other two layers.

At the Physical Layer, a dedicated hardware system has been developed to:
? directly record controllers and sensors data;
? perform preliminary processing of data/info;
? implement, with the support of the real-time control unit of the machine, limited adaptive control of machining tasks to compensate downgraded performances;
? create and maintain a link with the central infrastructure to feed data and get feedback.

At the Cloud Layer, the applications which are being developed will:
? evaluate, analyse, post-process and store recorded data, and will actively or reactively interact both with the physical and digital world;
? use globally available data and services to accomplish comprehensive production and maintenance planning as well as plant and warehouse efficient management taking into account objectives such as intelligent maintenance, cost savings and resources optimisation;
? make available applications (web apps, CNC multimodal interface) that allow visualisation of info/status of the machine/plant, local programming and setup.

The developed collaborative ICT infrastructure layer (bridging the two layers):
? provides the global networking infrastructure connecting systems, factories and operators to allow the provision of the central services on a global scale;
? is designed for a continuously expanding set of services that provides a large number of users with uninterrupted service, and that can be easily updated with new development;
? stores and manages, in a secure and controlled way, all the gathered data that will be used.

At the end of the reporting period (M18) the PROGRAMS solutions are almost ready for the integration phase and their testing in laboratory environment. In addition, the pilot lines have been already enhanced with the data collection systems and with the additional sensors that will be used to assess the status of most critical components.


Several of the proposed solutions (advanced FMECA, novel DSS, maintenance data sharing platform, combined maintenance and production scheduling) will offer functionalities that are not currently available from any commercial and academic solution. However, the aim of the PROGRAMS platform is not strictly related to its capability to surpass the performances of current solutions. Such an objective would be unrealistic, comparing the duration and budget of PROGRAMS with the projects of the software houses that dominate the commercial market. The main progress of PROGRAMS will be instead the demonstration of an integrated approach that can greatly reduce the maintenance associated costs. Such an achievement will have a great importance for European small and medium enterprises because they usually cannot afford the cost of a full-fledged maintenance department taking care of all Predictive Maintenance (PdM) related aspects (like the models? creation and tuning or the estimation of components degradation). The PROGRAMS suite will allow instead SMEs to manage such aspects with limited costs and training, thus extending the benefits of PdM to the bulk of European industries and, in turn, increasing their competitiveness on world markets.

The main benefits of the project outcomes are expected along the following lines:
? Increased Availability and Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
? Continuous monitoring of system components criticality.
? Exploitation of physical-based models of the components which have a higher criticality level.
? Selection of optimal strategies for the maintenance activities.
? Integration of maintenance and production activities minimizing overall Life Cycle Cost (LCC).
? Provision of robust and customizable data analysis services.
? Deployment of an Intra Factory Information Service.

These benefits will impact especially on the European SME sector, where the need for flexibility, production efficiency, and strategies optimization, often meets resource limitation, localized knowledge gap, and lack of available tools.
PROGnostics based Reliability Analysis for Maintenance Scheduling
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