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Automation has transformed the manufacturing industry, increasing productivity, and efficiency. However, it also introduces a new set of challenges. Particularly, in maintaining the smooth running of production lines. Among these is the need for effective parts maintenance and sourcing of hard-to-find components.

Why is predictive maintenance important?

Automated systems and robotics bring an immense operational advantage. Offering the ability to work more flexibly, accurately, and efficiently. However, the functionality of these machines heavily relies on the condition of their individual parts. Hence, regular parts maintenance becomes the cornerstone of productivity.

Preventative maintenance and timely replacement of parts may prevent costly downtime by reducing the likelihood of unexpected system breakdowns. Often, a malfunctioning component may signal an impending system breakdown. Therefore, monitoring and immediate action can save both time and resources.

So… what makes an effective maintenance plan?

1. The Overview

The first step is to catalogue all the machinery that will eventually need servicing. From this, you can outline approximate timings for inspection, service, and calibration tasks. Don't forget to list all necessary assets like key staff, contractors, spare parts, and equipment needed for operations.

2. Detailed Work Instructions

Work instructions should be clear and simple. So that, workers have the information they need to complete their tasks in a safe and effective manner. The equipment manufacturer can provide these instructions directly or the company can develop them in-house. Ensure they comply with relevant industry or equipment standards.

3. Comprehensive Schedule

A detailed schedule dictates the exact times for all tasks. It should account for factors like company shutdowns, public holidays, and asset availability. Aligning maintenance schedules with co-existing systems can further reduce total downtime.

4. Spare Parts Identification

List all critical spare parts for each automated system covered by the maintenance plan. Regularly replenish stock levels. Identify a reliable automation parts supplier, such as EU Automation, to support your operation swiftly.

5. Asset Management

List all key individuals, equipment, suppliers, and contractors needed for all tasks. Ensure all parties know their responsibilities.

6. Training

Create a dedicated training programme. This programme should ensure staff are well-equipped to undertake service tasks. Invest time and resources for comprehensive training sessions. Also, consider providing refresher courses to preserve vital information.

Am I doing maintenance wrong?

The main pitfall to avoid when implementing a predictive maintenance strategy is misjudging the amount of time and effort involved. Although it is ideal to have a maintenance staff within a company, this is not always viable for every company. However, it is important to remember that preventative maintenance is not an exercise to undertake once and then forget about. It is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and dedicated capacity.

So… what else can break a parts maintenance plan?

1. Ineffective spares supplier

Nearly all modern automation systems require regular maintenance. With most service tasks requiring new components, the strength of your spares supplier will directly affect your facility's total efficiency. Use well-established professionals that have the expertise and connections to back up your robotics application when choosing a component supplier.

2. Wasting data

Modern automation systems and additional sensors provide data that can be utilised to set alert thresholds. This is to prevent device failures and pinpoint problem areas. Be sure to utilise all data available to you.

3. Lack of coverage

It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that only a select few people need to know how to do crucial maintenance tasks. Especially given the lengthy intervals that may pass between checks. It is essential to create information deposits independent of personnel. If detailed maintenance instructions are produced and more people are trained, there will be more knowledge redundancy.

4. Poor scheduling

When making plans, make sure to factor in enough time and money for routine automation upkeep. Where possible, you should always align service tasks with co-existing systems to reduce facility downtime.

5. Not valuing operators

When planning and discussing automation maintenance, the staff working closest to the device can be missed too often. Talk to the people who use the equipment on a regular basis, as they may have insights worth considering.

Harness the power of industrial automation by making maintenance a priority. With EU Automation as your partner, navigating the challenges of maintenance planning becomes simpler. We're here for you every step of the way on your automation journey. With high-quality components, in-depth industry knowledge, and a dedication to your success.

EU Automation is a leading supplier of automation equipment, servicing some of the world's most prominent manufacturers. Specialising in top-tier components and reliable support, EU Automation is a vital partner in the industrial automation space.

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