Industrial Revolutions in a Row
When the steam engine was introduced in 1780, it started to take over the work that was being done by people and horses. The steam power allowed for better and faster production of goods and also improved the quality of products. However, the machines could also break down.
The Second Industrial Revolution in 1870 saw steam replaced by electricity. This resulted in increased the reliability of the machines’ drive. It also introduced production lines that increased and sped up production. During the first two revolutions, the only maintenance that was being performed was corrective maintenance.
The invention of the computer around 1970 triggered the third Industrial Revolution. The introduction of the computer dramatically increased the amount of available information and enabled people and companies to also share that information electronically. The sharing of knowledge led to new insights, which in turn led to improved production. This was also the beginning of globalisation. Globalisation cleared the way for people all over the world to share their best practices when it came to maintenance. Benchmarks and KPI’s for preventive maintenance were created and different maintenance concepts were introduced.
And these days, we find ourselves in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is the era in which machines are capable of communication with each other and their environment. Data networks are intelligent, self-learning machines will improve the coordination of production and demand. The astonishing wealth of information that is now available regarding maintenance is bound to have an effect on maintenance management.
The communication of machines with each other and their environment will inevitably trigger new maintenance evolutions. This is already happening, for example with predictive maintenance. No longer do maintenance managers need to guess when a failure will occur. By using modern, digital technology they know in advance when an asset will breakdown. But how will this affect the technical staff? Technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality can help to make a repair significantly easier. This does not make technical knowledge obsolete, but it could very well change the role of technical knowledge obsolete, but it could very well change the role of technical knowledge as it now is widely available through various systems.