Predictive Maintenance for Paving Equipment
From intelligent compaction to automation, our equipment continues to get smarter. Some of our machines can even take charge of their own maintenance. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have invested in such predictive maintenance systems that use data to diagnose a machine’s maintenance and repair needs proactively, service the equipment remotely, or notify a service technician.
Predictive maintenance can reduce equipment downtime and repair costs, improve operator safety and increase resale value of equipment. It also makes the job easier for operators and mechanics and can make new employee training less cumbersome.
Caterpillar Condition Monitoring
Predictive maintenance from Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill., takes shape in the form of condition monitoring programs developed and performed by Cat dealers. This includes Scheduled Oil Sampling fluid analysis, machine inspections, site conditions, repair history and electronic data.
“All of these condition monitoring elements provide Caterpillar dealers and customers with valuable information to manage their equipment,” said Dave Matranga, Parts and Services Market Professional. When issues arise, Cat’s condition monitoring center is made aware, and the customer is notified.
“A repair after failure rebuild of major components can cost 2.5 times more than following a repair before failure approach and 90 percent of failures are preventable,” Matranga said. “The approach by Caterpillar has always been ensuring customers achieve the lowest owning and operating costs possible over the life of the machine.”
Predictive maintenance can also give customers more options to solve issues before they arise.
“Once a component has failed, there are few options for repair,” Matranga said. “When we can catch a problem early, Caterpillar dealers can present the customer with multiple repair options to meet the customer’s need for their equipment.”
The goal to improve predictive maintenance in the future is to increase the speed at which that information is shared. “The faster the information is sent, the faster a resolution can be developed and delivered, which enables customers to make more informed decisions on maintaining their equipment.”
Volvo: Care Track to ActiveCare Direct
The first predictive maintenance program from Volvo Construction Equipment, Gothenburg, Sweden, was launched in 2008. Named Care Track, the program gave customers the option to monitor their own machines. Then, two years ago, Volvo launched ActiveCare Direct.
With ActiveCare Direct, Volvo’s uptime center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, monitors enrolled machines 24/7. “Our customers often don’t have the time or resources to manage this data,” said Volvo’s Dave Adams. “Plus there is a lot of noise in traditional telematics. Sometimes, you need someone with technical capabilities to best analyze all that data and take action.”
Now, Volvo sends the information directly to the customer and the dealer, including what they see and what could happen in the future. The dealer is also provided all the diagnostic details to determine the best repair method and appropriate technician to avoid multiple trips. Volvo’s case coordinators from their uptime center also reach out to dealers to ensure the issue has been resolved.
“What really resonates with our customers is when we show them past repair costs and show them what we could have prevented,” Adams said. According to a case study Volvo completed with a customer owning more than 500 machines, using ActiveCare Direct saved them around $700,000 annually.
Although ActiveCare Direct doesn’t replace Care Track, nearly one third of Care Track users have migrated to ActiveCare Direct. Of those, Volvo has experienced a 100 percent retention rate. Today there are more than 4,000 machines enrolled in ActiveCare Direct.
“In the first quarter of this year, we grew by 2,000 machines,” Adams said. “The word has gotten out there and it’s dramatically taking off.”
Volvo is also using the data it’s collecting to strengthen its predictive power. Each time a case is resolved, the system is able to learn and improve. In partnership with oil analysis and future updates to machine electrical hardware, Volvo will be able to be more predictive in the areas of component life expectancy.
Roadtec’s Guardian Guards the Bottom Line
Roadtec, Chattanooga, has also invested in predictive maintenance with the launch of its Guardian system in 2010. Since then, Guardian has expanded from Roadtec’s milling machine lineup to pavers in 2012 and Shuttle Buggy MTVs in 2016.
“Guardian is a bit more involved than most telematics systems out there,” said Roadtec’s Director of Marketing Eric Baker. Guardian implements an onboard Windows computer, which ties into the machine’s entire electrical system and engine. “That allows us not only to get engine hours, but also controls positions.”
Having that information means Roadtec knows if the customer is paving, when the conveyors are on, and when the augers are turning, for example. “Rather than assuming some sort of utilization rate based on total engine hours, we can truly track real productive hours,” Baker said.
The next improvement Roadtec has planned is to track equipment use by tonnage. For example, their milling machines already have production reporting capabilities, so Roadtec can track milling width, speed and depth to calculate tonnage.
“Tonnage production is what you ultimately want to track, because that’s the real work of the machine,” Baker said. Roadtec launched that feature on its cold planers four years ago and is developing this use for its pavers now.
Today, 80 percent of Roadtec’s machines in the field that have Guardian capabilities have an active Guardian subscription.
“The biggest challenge in the industry has been educating the marketplace on what’s available,” Baker said. “They need to know what data is available, how best to use it, and how a customer can leverage that data to make their business better.”