It’s 7:00 on Tuesday morning. Start of shift at the branch of Bharat Forge in North Rhine-Westphalia. Dirk Brozio, head of maintenance, sits at his workplace. Red and yellow bars appear on the screen in front of him, running through the picture at various intervals. Brozio explains: “This is the live alarm data that the machine is currently generating.” Another click and the maintenance manager looks at a detailed alarm view – an inverter fault.
“Here we can exactly see how often the alarm occurred in the last shift and whether there is an upward or downward trend. Today during the night shift, for example, the machine alarm occurred eight times, so we’ll take a look at the plant.”
Brozio’s employer, the Bharat Forge Group, placed great value on digital solutions in its business units at an early stage. So it was only a matter of time before maintenance at the Ennepetal plant also looked for a digital solution to improve its processes. For Dirk Brozio and his team, any shutdown of the plants relates to increased costs and lost revenues. Therefore, it was necessary to find a solution with which the alarm messages could be better evaluated in the context of predictive maintenance.
What the maintenance team also needed was a clear and meaningful real-time visualization of the alarms that occurred in order to be able to react as quickly as possible in case of an emergency. Although the operators of the presses received all alarms sent by the Programmable Logic Controller via their panel, many messages were lost in the flood of alarms or were not communicated to the maintenance department. The problem is that alarm data generated from the PLC is very fast-moving – often only the most recent alarms are displayed. This can lead to relevant alarms being overlooked and, in the worst case, to the machine coming to a standstill. The automation database stores alarm signals continuously but only for a certain period of time before the data is overwritten again. This means that alarm messages and machine downtimes can no longer be traced at a later point in time.
Dirk Brozio on this:
“We chose Smart Alarm because it offers us great added value as a post-analysis instrument. With Smart Alarm, we can quickly analyze error messages in our daily work, even when we are not on site, and then react to it. It also offers us great added value when cleaning up the alarms in our local automation system, because by visualizing the alarms we can detect faulty limit values and alarm texts and then correct them.”
The Smart Alarm application is a web-based application designed for various users such as operators, shift supervisors, maintainers or plant managers. Smart Alarm provides a better overview and better control of the countless alarms that are triggered daily in plants. Intelligent prioritization, multiple analysis options, and the ability to link solution notes and set automated notifications simplify tedious and complicated error analysis. Smart Alarm displays all relevant alarms in a dashboard with a clear overview and details of the plant tree.
The automated sending of SMS and e-mail notifies the persons responsible everywhere in a timely manner. Each area also has its own customizable view. The long-term storage of historical alarm data allows alarm trends to be calculated and potential standstills to be identified.
Brozio knows the advantages of the application and the added value it generates:
“In contrast to other alarm management systems, Smart Alarm can also be used to view systems from a wide range of manufacturers on a dashboard, if necessary also mobile via the iPad. The detailed alarm display enables causes to be discovered and suggestions for action to be derived. At Bharat Forge, for example, too much grease was sometimes used during machine maintenance. Smart Alarm made it possible to detect this fact and the more economical use of grease also meant reduced costs.”
The SMS digital
The web-based application is developed by SMS digital GmbH, a subsidiary of the SMS group. Here, new digital concepts and products are created and work is continuously being done on improving existing applications. An agile way of working and customer-centric actions play an important role in the 30-strong workforce.
Brozio also notices this:
“SMS digital reacts faster than other software service providers, be it in the event of faults, suggestions for improvement or support inquiries.”
Cooperation offers great advantages for both companies. Dirk Brozio from Bharat Forge gets an application adapted to the needs of maintenance that makes his day-to-day work easier. The cooperation gives SMS digital important insights into the needs of the customers.
“Customer feedback is a central component of our way of working. We can see where we have implemented something really well, but also where we can still improve”
says Tommy Goslicki, Product Manager at SMS digital.
“Through qualified customer feedback, for example, we have integrated the function that the status of machines is automatically recorded and taken into account in the analysis. This increases the significance of the data enormously. Customer feedback also helps us with regard to future trends and requirements.”
For maintenance at Bharat Forge, the cooperation has paid off: machine downtimes can be detected more quickly and their cause traced back within a few moments. The connection to the forging press was only the first step. Consideration is now being given to connecting a further part of the plant. This means the configuration of new plant components and new alarm messages.
But Brozio is confident:
“Smart Alarm will further help us to improve our production processes and get a step closer to digitalization.”