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Predictive Maintenance Solutions in Aerospace Manufacturing

Nov 23, 2023

The aerospace manufacturing industry in Saudi Arabia is set to soar, thanks to an increased focus on domestic manufacturing. However, as investment in the sector increases, so too does competition. One way that you can make your company more productive, efficient, and profitable is to implement predictive maintenance in your facilities. This modern maintenance approach not only makes your company more sustainable, but also more reliable for customers.


Predictive Maintenance Solutions in Aerospace Manufacturing

How Does Predictive Maintenance Work?

What if you could predict when a machine will fail or fall out of spec? That’s precisely what predictive maintenance promises. When properly implemented, predictive maintenance solutions deliver on that promise. In order to accomplish this, computers analyze data related to your machines’ performance. Measurements are compared with standard operating parameters to determine whether the machine is operating properly or drifting towards failure. When the data shows an alarming trend, you can proactively perform maintenance before failure.

Compare the predictive approach to your standard maintenance procedures. Most machines have a service interval that engineers and technicians adhere to. However, this schedule is only a recommendation from the manufacturer. A machine that calls for service every three months could still fail one month after its last revision, or it could work well for an entire year. By adopting predictive maintenance, you only service your machines when they actually need service. So, how can your business implement this technology?

What Do Companies Need to Implement Predictive Maintenance?

The exact requirements for predictive maintenance solutions vary depending on the kind of machinery you use. However, most aerospace manufacturing companies rely on mills, lathes, and 5-axis CNC machines. All of these can be configured to feed data into a predictive maintenance system. In fact, data is the most important element of any predictive maintenance solution.

Digital Infrastructure

In order to capture data from your machines, you need digital infrastructure to transmit information from machines to a server in the cloud. Many industrial businesses lack this infrastructure since, historically speaking, gathering data from the factory floor was not a major concern. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a massive overhaul of your operating space.

Install Wi-Fi routers in your production area. Extensive cabling is unnecessary and more likely to make installation complicated. Next, you will need hub devices that relay information from machines to your cloud-based system. For example, the CloudRail. Box can collect inputs from sensors and automatically feed it into cloud-based platforms like Azure or AWS.

Retrofitting Old Equipment

Most aerospace shop floors have a wide variety of machines from various manufacturers. In addition, due to the long lifespan of industrial machinery, your company may have equipment that dates back decades. Fortunately, you can retrofit your older equipment with sensors that deliver data to hubs. Vibration sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, and more can be added to your equipment.

Collecting this data is vital for measuring machine performance and detecting faults. Vibration, for instance, is one of the most reliable indicators of machine failure. By tracking that data with sensors, you can not only monitor your equipment in real time, but also identify machines that may require an alignment or adjustment.

Upgrading to Modern Machines

If you’re in the market for new equipment, look for machines that support OPC’s Unified Architecture standard. OPC UA allows for communication between machines and other devices with preinstalled sensors. OPC UA machines also facilitate data capture with a variety of data output methods and connectors. These machines are also compatible with many predictive maintenance software solutions. Effectively, they provide you with plug-and-play data collection.

Data Processing

With data collection complete, you will then need a method to process the data captured by your devices. Although you can install a local server and use its processing power to analyze the data your machines provide, a cloud-based solution is preferable. Cloud computing systems like Azure or AWS charge you only for the processing operations their data centers perform using your data. Likewise, data storage is billed based on actual use. Plus, the cloud is much faster.

By opting for a cloud-based solution, you avoid the large up-front cost of a powerful server. In addition, you can access your maintenance platform from anywhere. If you have multiple locations or plan on expanding in the future, a cloud-based system can scale up easily, making it future-proof. As your software gathers more data, it will identify patterns in your machines’ behavior that unlock predictions that become more accurate over time.

Benefits for Companies in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has made aerospace engineering and manufacturing a focal point in its Vision 2030 policy. As more investments enter the sector, expect an increase in competition. Predictive maintenance can make your company much more attractive for both investors and customers. Better maintenance means more uptime, which translates to consistent on-time deliveries and better quality components, too.

Switching to a predictive maintenance regime also improves your financial outlook. Downtime burdens your bottom line, while unexpected maintenance expenses can derail your budget. With more predictability in your day-to-day operations, your company can better manage its resources and plan ahead confidently.

Getting Started With Predictive Maintenance

Setting up predictive maintenance at your company requires careful planning to ensure that the process is done right the first time. As each company’s exact needs vary, it’s best to work with experts that have experience in digital transformation in the aerospace industry. After a thorough review of your company’s needs, a digital transformation expert in Saudi Arabia can help you plan and execute your predictive maintenance implementation.

Contact SAAB RDS to speak to one of our digital transformation consultants.