Buhler's plantCare software is based on a database that includes all the major data required for keeping Buhler machinery up and running. Detailed work instructions, the site of installation of equipment and operation manual references support users in their work.
The software therefore provides processors with a clear overview of all important maintenance data, and keeps plant managers up to date on when and where the next maintenance work has to be done. For example 'trigger thresholds' have been filed for all maintenance items, which define when a maintenance prompt is issued. A maintenance routine may be triggered every two months, or it may be specified for a fixed date.
Counter readings and service hours can also be registered by the process control system, to be evaluated by the software. This gives customers the assurance that maintenance will be carried out at the correct point of time and that plant components can be kept operating as long as possible.
plantCare software also records the machine history, providing information on the past of the plant elements. The running-time statistic shows all the current counter readings and the date when maintenance was last performed.
plantCare is already in service in new production systems supplied byBuhler's grinding & dispersion and pasta business units. The company claims that the software package is very flexible: if a production plant includes non-Buhler equipment beside the equipment supplied by Buhler, it is still possible to apply plantCare.
According to Buhler, many production systems are operated until they fail for lack of maintenance or due to natural wear. This, says the company, costs European industry billions in terms of reparation and replacement. The company expects that its plantCare software will go someway to helping manufacturers achieve greater operational efficiency.
The software is also complemented by Buhler's Global programme, which is designed to help customers decide which production system to invest in, how implement it and how to maintain and enhance its value. According to Buhler, the programme can help manufacturers to develop different plant concepts to show the advantages and disadvantages of the various machines.
This allows manufacturers to select the system best suited to their specific purposes. Likewise, if a process is to be changed, Buhler can establish feasibility studies that show the benefits and drawbacks of the different casting processes, supplying a valuable basis for evaluation of the most economic process. Each stage in the process is analysed.
The Global programme also contains a training component. Machine maintenance and set-up crews can receive instruction on hydraulics, electrical engineering, and set-up, and operation and maintenance of the peripheral equipment can be undertaken.
The next stage of the programme is ensuring that the newly installed plant is maintained. Cost pressures often force manufacturers to decide whether to invest in new systems or to update existing ones, and here Buhler can offer assistance. Experienced specialists can evaluate the current level of automation of a system and then develop suggestions on how to raise the efficiency of the existing machines and systems.