Modules that monitor machines, predict maintenance and show how to replace spare parts. Intelligent algorithms that analyse all data. Tests out in the industry on the way. The research project PreCoM is halfway towards its goal to help industrial companies predict the need for maintenance and thus save money and work.
35 employees from 17 partners in six different countries are working on a new decision support system for the industry. The project, called PreCoM, started in November 2017 and will be completed in October 2020. Now, in the summer of 2019, half the time for the project has passed. So how is it getting on?
"We are well on the way towards the goal: an intelligent system that, using self-learning, should be able to predict the need for maintenance of machinery in the industry", says Basim Al-Najjar, professor of terotechnology at Linnaeus University and project manager.
But it is not just about maintaining equipment at the right time. Reduced production losses, energy and material savings, lower costs and improvement of the working environment are other effects that the project is expected to result in.
Sensors and big data
The system is based on cheap and powerful sensors that collect data from the machines, and on smart methods for analysing these large data volumes. So far, the researchers have developed 24 modules for the system, which among other things can analyse the status of machines, predict when something is going to break, recommend measures and even show how to replace parts in the machine. Most of the hardware needed to collect data has also been developed.
"We have also created a cloud service, so that all data from the system is collected here in Växjö, and PreCoM Brain, the overall intelligence in the system", says Basim Al-Najjar.
It is PreCoM Brain that, based on collected data, decides what should be addressed. This brain of the system calculates which action is the best of all conceivable and ensures that the staff does not receive too many or even contradictory messages.
Tests at the turn of the year
At the turn of the year, the first real tests await at two engineering companies and a paper mill in Spain and Slovakia. Tests that will show what PreCoM is capable of, as well as form the basis for a continued development of the system.
"We had a reconciliation meeting with representatives from the EU in May and the result was positive. If everything goes as planned, we hope that a finished product will come out on the market in 2021”, says Basim Al-Najjar.