Robert Peyr, Global Product Manager, Gleason Global Services
If it’s not broke don’t fix it.
It’s a philosophy still surprisingly common on gear production floors around the world, where maintenance personnel spend much of their time putting out fires and reacting to unplanned machine downtime that can quickly turn catastrophic. Is there a maintenance technician who hasn’t wondered why the machines he’s repairing can’t be more like the automobile he gets into at the end of a long, hard day? While he’s driving home, his car will be busy monitoring all its vital systems, predicting when a failure might occur and even contacting a service department from the road for remote diagnostics and remedies when needed.
Fortunately, help is on the way. A new generation of smart machines and digital technologies are taking maintenance into an exciting new era where machines self-diagnose, anticipate failures before they occur and automatically initiate the right response – whether ordering a replacement part, connecting to a technician for remote diagnostics or scheduling a service call. Admittedly, we’re still a few years from machines with full ‘prescriptive maintenance’ capability. In the meantime, we are employing several new digital and data networking technologies to take preventive/predictive maintenance to an entirely new level.
Take a Fingerprint, Identify Failure
Predictive maintenance – anticipating and remedying failures before they can occur – is only possible with accurate data. This data, however, is often unavailable or, best case, can only be obtained through the efforts of skilled maintenance personnel. In a perfect world, the systematic analysis of the status of a machine would take place without first sending a technician. Fortunately, that analysis is now possible with Gleason Fingerprint, one of the new Gleason 4.0 digital tools. Similar to a human’s fingerprint, manufacturing machines have a specific mechanical fingerprint. This fingerprint is unique and shows the machine’s true condition. Through Gleason Fingerprint, a Master Fingerprint cycle is used to collect data and creates a master reference before the machine is shipped to the customer.
With fingerprint data, Gleason can compare a machine’s current status in production with its ideal, like-new status during time of installation. Then, the condition of a machine’s most important mechanical components can be diagnosed and evaluated from anywhere in the world via Gleason Connect, standard on every new Gleason machine, which establishes a network between the machine and the Gleason service organization. Importantly, Gleason Fingerprint provides an up-to-date status report of the machine’s mechanical components without the disassembly/reassembly usually needed to perform a machine assessment. An assessment of a machine’s condition can be done at any time.
Fingerprint can generate an accurate analysis in far less time, with a fraction of the cost and effort, and without requiring a skilled technician as the first step. Ultimately, checking on the machine’s status, performing self-checks, and recommending action can all be done proactively.
It’s also possible for owners of older Gleason machines with outdated controls and operating systems to enter this new digital service world as well. A Gleason Connect Box can be retrofit to existing machines to connect it digitally to the Gleason service organization. As you might expect, getting the full benefit of Gleason’s digital remote services, including Gleason
Fingerprint, requires that the machine’s controller be operating with Windows10. For those many machines equipped with older Siemens 840D pl running Windows 95, NT and XP, Gleason offers its SPN retrofit program. It’s the fastest, most economical way for users to upgrade their 840D pl controllers to get all the security, performance, and remote networking benefits of a controller operating with Windows10 and in conjunction with Gleason Connect.
Customers with older Gleason metrology systems can also upgrade their machines’ operating systems to Windows10 with a GAMA 3.1 or the latest GAMA 3.2 upgrade of this very popular operating software. This then gives these machines the ability to network remotely with the Gleason service organization via Gleason Connect box.
As a result, thousands of older machines have the potential to establish a secure remote connection and enable Gleason service specialists to enter the machine’s computer, view hardware status, maintain software, use diagnostic tools and communicate with the customer’s operators. With advanced remote diagnostics tools, Gleason service personnel can test and observe the machine’s behavior and performance. Faulty hardware and software components are identified and – in many cases – corrected online. When necessary, temporary solutions can be introduced until spare parts arrive.
When machine maintenance and/or operation issues arise service technicians and machine operators literally have their hands full as they work to find solutions. Tracking down and paging through technical documentation, manuals and reference drawings can slow the repair process to a crawl. Now, by wearing a pair of Gleason ‘Smart Glasses’, a service technician can connect to the internet to put picture and sound before his very eyes. This Augmented Reality (AR) capability is called Gleason Connect +. It’s an important new tool that allows the customer and/or Gleason field service engineers to be hands-free and receive all the data they need to deal quickly and effectively with service issues directly from the service office in real time via the glasses. It’s becoming an increasingly popular way of communications and remote field diagnostics because it gives service technicians the ability to react faster and with even greater precision. Most importantly, Smart Glasses enables the experts anywhere in the world to see what the technician or machine operator is seeing so they have an immediate understanding of the problem and can provide pertinent technical details and instructions in real time.
Gleason Connect + is now available in two versions: The Platinum version with Smart Glasses, or simply as an App that can be downloaded to the user’s smart phone. The smart phone with Gleason Connect+ App gives the user the connectivity and many of the same remote diagnostic benefits, but without the hands-free functionality of the Smart Glasses. In consideration of the COVID-19 environment, now and in the future, contact- and travel-free service becomes all the more important.
Service Plans Made to Fit
While the application of these new digital technologies will mean a quantum leap forward in the speed and efficiency of machine service, there is no substitute for a well-designed, rigorous service program. Our experience shows that proper machine maintenance can reduce unplanned downtime by up to 70%. Furthermore, wear and tear will result in decreasing performance over time, along with premature failure and the potential for machine breakdowns. That’s why Gleason takes a flexible ‘made to fit’ approach to service and, depending on the customer’s infrastructure, by combining the customer’s internal maintenance resources with Gleason service skills and capabilities for the best of both service worlds. For many of our customers, Gleason Service is as routine and pain-free as the service on a car. It can range from a simple ‘Basic Check’ machine inspection to Basic, Silver and, finally, Gold-level service plans that help ensure the maximum in machine availability and optimum workpiece quality.
For more information:
Phone: (585) 473-1000