A recent study has revealed that 75 percent of IT and field service decision makers believe that machines will receive better preventative healthcare than human beings by 2020, thanks to increasing use of AI.
As Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said: “Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.” He may have been speaking about medicine, but the sentiment holds true across many other sectors. In particular, we’re now witnessing a more holistic approach to maintaining the machines that drive our economies.
Technologies such as artificial intelligence [AI], analytics and the use of digital twins are playing a vital role in monitoring industrial machines to prevent critical system failures, detecting issues and scheduling maintenance before outages occur.
Given that 10 percent of emergency field service work is predicted to be triggered and scheduled by AI by 2020, a new study from IT market research company Vanson Bourne, conducted on behalf of ServiceMax, has sought to gather industry opinions around increasing automation.
The report, After The Fall: Cost, Causes and Consequences of Unplanned Downtime, surveyed 450 field service and IT decision makers in the UK, US, France and Germany across the manufacturing, medical, oil and gas, energy and utilities, telecoms, distribution, logistics and transport sectors, among others.
Prevention and cure
“In the same way that organizations want zero unplanned downtime with their equipment assets to avoid expensive loss of production or service, we want to mitigate our own human ‘outages’,” said Mark Homer, vice president of global customer transformation for field service technology specialist ServiceMax, recently acquired by GE Digital in a deal that closed in January 2017.
“This holistic view of how something is operating – whether it’s a person, an equipment plant or an individual component in a machine – has historically been disjointed and only visible when something goes wrong.”
We’re seeing an increasing emphasis on constant monitoring and the use of AI to take preventative measures and ensure downtime is avoided. The IT and field service leaders surveyed largely believe predictive advancements in machines, their ability to act before a problem occurs and self-healing actions are beneficial to a company’s bottom line. For example:
- 46 percent say machines automatically requesting help will improve how their company manages equipment assets.
- 39 percent say predictive maintenance would help better manage equipment assets.
- 44 percent of respondents say using digital twins with predictive maintenance and artificial intelligence [AI] would help prevent major failures.
- 69 percent would like their own personal digital twin to help themselves and medical professionals regulate their health through non-invasive means, enabling early action and preventative measures.
It’s hardly surprising that companies are taking such steps. On average, respondents’ organizations have experienced two episodes of unplanned downtime over the past three years. According to the Aberdeen report, Maintaining Virtual System Uptime in Today’s Transforming IT Infrastructure, one hour of unplanned downtime costs organisations $260,000, on average.