Clever app: maintenance with Smartenance

Article of 24 September 2021 


At Festo, the maintenance department at the Rohrbach plant has been using the in-house developed Smartenance app for three years and has had very good experience with it: maintenance work runs much more quickly and smoothly than previously. At the Festo plant in Scharnhausen too, Smartenance has been in use for several years. The development team there is currently working on the next stage: a needs-oriented maintenance system.

Since 2018, the ‘Smartenance’ maintenance app has been in use at the Rohrbach and Scharnhausen plants. What started back then as a pilot project on a few machines has become a success story in the meantime: today around 550 installations in total are connected in Scharnhausen, whilst at the Rohrbach site there are 434 installations.

The benefits: the plant operators can very easily enter error messages or the need for maintenance in Smartenance, and also store photos. The messages are imported from the app into the SAP system, which notifies the maintenance staff.

Maintenance stays on top of things

This method makes it much simpler than previously to predictively maintain the machines, and the maintenance department stays on top of things. It is possible to see from anywhere on each machine whether the maintenance is complete, or if not, why not – no matter who is carrying it out. In addition, Smartenance remembers upcoming maintenance work, meaning that this can be planned better at the company, for example during a period when the installation is at a standstill anyway.

The maintenance staff can access Smartenance from anywhere in the plant.
The maintenance staff can access Smartenance from anywhere in the plant.

A direct link to SAP is also practical. The deep insights into the maintenance processes are very valuable for the developers. The app has become much more developed over the past two years. It was originally not intended for such large plants. The colleagues from Rohrbach and Scharnhausen have therefore worked closely with the Festo developers and brought the software to its current functional scope together. In the meantime, Smartenance is also being used at the production sites in Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Korea, China and Switzerland.

Next stage: the needs-oriented maintenance system

In the next development stage, a needs-oriented maintenance system is planned with Smartenance. In this case, the installation independently reports its need to be maintained to the operators, who get messages from it such as: ‘Grease filter nearly full – maintenance needed shortly!’

Until now, maintenance intervals have been precisely specified: after a certain period, an action is due. In this scenario, it can certainly happen, for example, that a filter is replaced even though it is not yet full – simply because it has to be replaced as standard after 24 hours, regardless of how much the installation has been used during this period.

The need for maintenance is revealed according to actual use

Using sensors, in future the installation will detect how many products have run across it during a certain period, thus revealing when a service is necessary. The procedure is triggered automatically and the operator does not have to monitor the installation themself and write up statuses – that means less time is taken up. Instead, the operator receives messages directly from the machine on their tablet with the Smartenance app, without getting them in a roundabout way via a different system such as email. In this way, the existing maintenance process is completely automated and Industry 4.0 put into practice perfectly.