Predictive maintenance in the large format printing industry – intelligent data

Being in the printing industry for about 20 years now and, from R&D perspective, technically being responsible for all Avery Dennison traffic sign printers out there, the Manroland Goss article on Grafisch / Forum about predictive maintenance got me thinking.

I know for a fact in the airline industry they are also using analytical data to plan maintenance routines and apparently the large press manufacturers are starting to implement this as well.

Predictive Maintenance Large Format Printers

But what about the large format printing industry?

Are there people that can share if this is already happening? Or did I just gave away a brilliant idea 😉

I know some printer manufacturers have access to data from within the printers like counter settings etc. But are we actually using that data to predict maintenance or do we only use this for our own “intelligence”, improvements and future development?

My experience is that maintenance routines are quite random

Either people call once something is broken and could get some priority in case they have a contract. Or people have a service contract and they will get a visit every once a while with a fixed interval.

Without generalizing, it seems like most people with “smaller” devices usually seem to take the risk as these contracts are quite valuable compared to the price of the printer. Bigger companies or people with larger/faster printers usually are the ones trying to cover the risk of downtime and high part- and labor costs with service contracts.

But what if we start collecting data with the purpose to become more intelligent? Also, and especially, from a service perspective? So we can finally change the saying: “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” into the evolved version: “Only fix it just before it gets broken”.

In that case, the service provider could contact a customer with or without a contract with the message that the data is showing that part x and y are due to get replaced due or are showing signs of issues.

Not only do I think this is an ultimate service to offer, but could also prevent downtime as machines always seem to break down exactly when you need them most. This allows service providers and printing companies to plan maintenance when the schedule allows and to only work on the machine right before it’s too late.

Is this a no-brainer?

Printer manufacturers as would have a machine to offer with less risk of downtime, lower maintenance costs, cost of ownership or price per m2.

For service providers this could potentially lead to less ad-hoc cases where people are stressed and need service NOW! This should allow them to plan things better and more ahead. Planning ahead usually comes hand in hand with more cost effectiveness and could either lead to better margins, less people required etc.

For printing companies, the risk of downtime should reduce, maintenance could be scheduled instead of disrupting business, margins should improve etc.

So what are your thoughts? Would this be a next step where our industry can show that we are maturing more and more?

Please leave your thoughts and comments in the field below.