Harnessing AI Platforms for Rapid Development and Deployment of Predictive Maintenance Systems in Industrial Applications

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12 Jul, 2023

Harnessing AI Platforms for Rapid Development and Deployment of Predictive Maintenance Systems in Industrial Applications

In this article, we will look at the challenges that engineers encounter when deploying a predictive maintenance system and how edge AI platforms like Edge Impulse can help factories optimize and deploy predictive maintenance models on industrial edge devices.

Predictive maintenance systems, driven by data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), have emerged as a powerful approach in the industrial sector to optimize production and minimize downtime.  Predictive maintenance estimates maintenance requirements and pinpoints potential equipment failures by taking raw data from sensors, IoT devices, and historical data, and using it to identify patterns and correlations, processing the current state of equipment and accurately predicting failures. The goal of predictive maintenance is to eliminate unplanned downtime, extend asset life, and optimize resources spent on repairs.


What are Predictive Maintenance Systems?

A predictive maintenance system is a strategy that uses data analysis tools and machine learning techniques to predict potential breakdowns in equipment and to alert operators before failures occur. With a predictive maintenance system in place, an industrial organization can optimize equipment performance, decrease downtime, and lower costs related to unscheduled repairs by effectively anticipating maintenance needs.

Here are some of the benefits of implementing predictive maintenance systems and how they ensure smooth operations:

  • Improved Reliability: Predictive maintenance solutions help increase the reliability of equipment and production output by continuously monitoring equipment health and seeing possible problems before they arise. The longevity of equipment is increased through proactive maintenance practices including prompts for part replacements or repairs in order to prevent unexpected breakdowns.
  • Cost Savings: A predictive maintenance system implemented in the production environment can save businesses a lot of money. Factories can reduce production disruptions and prevent costly emergency repairs by anticipating impending breakdowns early on. The resulting optimized maintenance schedule may also improve resource management and lower production costs.
  • Greater Operational Efficiency: Organizations can schedule maintenance tasks during pre-planned downtime with the help of predictive maintenance systems, minimizing the disruption to production schedules. By doing so, maintenance tasks that hold up production or that require human monitoring are decreased while equipment availability and efficiency are optimized.

The Need for Predictive Maintenance in Industry

Traditional maintenance practices based on fixed schedules, manual monitoring by personnel, and reactive approaches often lead to inefficiencies, errors in judgment, and unexpected equipment failures. These practices can result in  unplanned production stoppages and financial losses. Predictive maintenance utilizes advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms  to proactively monitor equipment health, identify early warning signs of failure, and recommend appropriate actions. Predictive maintenance systems rely on automated monitoring that minimizes human involvement until a potential problem requires attention.

Predictive maintenance systems have been shown to address a number of difficulties that industries confront, including:

  • Unscheduled Downtime: Unexpected equipment failures might result in expensive downtime that has an adverse effect on production and profitability. Predictive maintenance systems help reduce this risk by identifying and alerting operators to possible problems before they result in major equipment failures and interrupted production.
  • Reactive Maintenance: When a business relies on a reactive maintenance approach, equipment is fixed only after a problem has occurred. This strategy leads to more downtime, more expensive repairs, and less overall efficiency. Predictive maintenance systems minimize these issues by anticipating repair and maintenance requirements so that they can be handled before breakdowns occur.
  • Complex Machinery: Today's industrial machinery has become increasingly complex, with interconnected systems, high-speed operations, robotic components, and distributed systems. . These intricate systems often generate a volume of data that is impractical for manual tracking and analysis. However, predictive maintenance systems process large amounts of data from numerous sensors using AI algorithms, which enables early  problem detection and effective maintenance planning. Predictive maintenance systems can be scaled more readily than manual systems to meet the monitoring requirements of complex machinery.

Challenges of Implementing Predictive Maintenance

While there are clear benefits to these systems, implementing predictive maintenance into new or existing production environments poses several challenges for industries. The following are major obstacles to successful deployment of a predictive maintenance system.

Data Availability and Quality

One of the primary challenges to implement a predictive maintenance system is ensuring the availability and quality of data. Reliable and comprehensive data is crucial for accurate predictions, but legacy systems may lack the necessary sensors, network, and storage, which can lead to data quality issues and result in unreliable outcomes.

Integration and Connectivity

Another significant challenge is data integration and connectivity. Industrial environments typically have  multiple pieces of machinery with multiple sources of data, and seamlessly connecting equipment, sensors, and data processing platforms can be complex. Organizations need to address integration issues to enable smooth data flow and analysis.

Building Predictive Models

The development and training of predictive models presents another hurdle to implementing predictive maintenance. Building accurate models requires a combination of skilled data scientists and domain experts who can identify data acquisition needs, select suitable algorithms, and train the models, which can be prohibitively resource-intensive and time-consuming.

Scalability

Scalability is a critical consideration as well. Predictive maintenance systems deal with large volumes of real-time data, requiring robust computing infrastructure and adequate storage capabilities. Organizations must plan for scalability and allocate sufficient resources to handle the increasing data load effectively. 

Organizational Adoption

Lastly, implementing predictive maintenance involves organizational change and adoption. It necessitates cultural shifts, the establishment of new workflows, and training initiatives. 

How Edge Impulse Enables Rapid Development of Predictive Maintenance Systems

Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses technological and organizational change. By recognizing and overcoming these obstacles, organizations can deploy predictive maintenance systems and reap the benefits of improved operational efficiency and reduced downtime. Edge Impulse is one company that can help businesses to implement predictive maintenance systems with a platform that simplifies machine learning development and edge AI integration. 

Understanding Edge Impulse

Edge Impulse aims to help businesses build, deploy, and scale data analysis solutions through embedded machine learning and edge computing. To that end, the company has created an innovative platform that developers without a machine learning background can use to build and integrate machine learning models into edge devices. The platform has a range of applications and can be used for the challenging task of implementing a predictive maintenance system. With wide support of various technologies, the platform can be used to create and deploy predictive maintenance in diverse industrial settings.

Core Features of Edge Impulse

The Edge Impulse platform is designed as a user-friendly way to develop and deploy machine learning systems, and gives businesses the flexibility to account for specific data analysis needs and available edge devices. The following are some of the core ways that the platform simplifies the process of collecting data and training machine learning models.

  • Data Acquisition and Pre-processing: Edge Impulse provides an intuitive interface that makes it easier for engineers to develop programs that gather sensor data from industrial equipment. The platform incorporates a variety of preprocessing methods that can be used to convert and standardize data formats across a range of industrial edge devices.
  • Machine Learning Model Development: Engineers may quickly create machine learning models customized to their unique maintenance requirements using Edge Impulse. The platform provides a large selection of tools and methods for model training, improvement, and evaluation.

The Concept of Predictive Maintenance with Edge Impulse

Edge Impulse makes it easier for industrial companies to build custom systems that gather and analyze data for preventative maintenance. Engineers can quickly develop programs for a variety of sensors and  IoT devices to collect real-time data from industrial equipment using the platform’s user-friendly interface. Organizations can gather data from diverse industrial machinery by preprocessing and converting the acquired data with the help of the Edge Impulse platform. The data can then be analyzed for trends and anomalies that may point to future equipment breakdowns using Edge Impulse's machine-learning capabilities. With the help of this data-driven methodology, businesses can create precise predictive maintenance models that are suited to the needs of their individual industrial applications and that enable proactive maintenance measures and improve equipment reliability.

Advantages of Using Edge Impulse for Predictive Maintenance

Edge Impulse provides many advantages for developing and deploying predictive maintenance systems.

  • Efficiency: Edge Impulse provides machine learning tools that speed up the creation and training of predictive maintenance models. Engineers can quickly iterate on models and optimize them for greater efficiency with the platform's user-friendly interface, which streamlines the entire process. For example, a renewable energy company that does not routinely hire machine learning experts can leverage developers already on staff to quickly deploy a predictive wind turbine maintenance system without drastically interrupting routine operations. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: Edge Impulse can be cost effective for businesses deploying predictive maintenance because it minimizes upfront development costs, and once the predictive maintenance system is implemented, it helps to reduce production downtime. For example, if a transportation logistics company adopts Edge Impulse for predictive maintenance of their fleet of vehicles, they can identify potential equipment faults in advance and avoid the cost of unexpected maintenance or system failures.
  • User-friendly Interface: Engineers who have various levels of experience and different skillsets can develop predictive maintenance systems with Edge Impulse thanks to its user-friendly interface. Because of its simplicity, experts and beginners alike can leverage AI and create predictive maintenance systems without having a deep understanding of programming. For instance, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company with limited resources for software development can use Edge Impulse to develop predictive maintenance systems for its production machinery. 

The Future of Edge Impulse and Predictive Maintenance

Edge Impulse continues to develop its platform, bringing more capabilities and advanced features to solutions that rely on its software. This presents a good outlook for businesses that build predictive maintenance systems with Edge Impulse. As the platform is optimized with advanced machine learning algorithms, system integrations, and intuitive design, the options for customized data analysis and ease of use will improve for its customers. For predictive maintenance systems built on Edge Impulse, this means even more cost savings and operational efficiency.

Conclusion

In conclusion, using AI platforms like Edge Impulse to quickly develop and deploy predictive maintenance systems in industrial settings offers a variety of benefits. This article discussed how Edge Impulse makes data collecting and processing simpler, enabling engineers with diverse skills to create precise models for predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance technologies have the potential to completely transform industrial processes in the future. New opportunities for optimized production may arise from the integration of AI platforms like Edge Impulse into the predictive maintenance landscape in the near future. The path to improved maintenance tactics and productive industrial procedures is just getting started.

About the sponsor: Edge Impulse

Edge Impulse is the leading development platform for embedded machine learning, used by over 1,000 enterprises across 200,000 ML projects worldwide. We are on a mission to enable the ultimate development experience for machine learning on embedded devices for sensors, audio, and computer vision, at scale. 

From getting started in under five minutes to MLOps in production, we enable highly optimized ML deployable to a wide range of hardware from MCUs to CPUs, to custom AI accelerators. With Edge Impulse, developers, engineers, and domain experts solve real problems using machine learning in embedded solutions, speeding up development time from years to weeks. We specialize in industrial and professional applications including predictive maintenance, anomaly detection, human health, wearables, and more. 


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More about Pranoti Gathadi

Pranoti Gathadi is a content strategist and freelance writer specialised in renewable energy technology. She holds a Master's degree in Electrical Machines and Drives with a background in Electrical Engineering. During her academic career, she published two research papers on "Hybrid Electric Vehic...