Information Transparency is one of the most fundamental aspects and benefits of Industrie 4.0, and thus by extension Maintenance 4.0. The graph below illustrates the context of how the concept of information transparency fits under the umbrella of Maintenance 4.0 as a whole, and further under that Data Analysis and Information Provisioning as subcategories that enable this ability.
When creating information transparency of a system, the aim is to ensure data captured by sensors is easily viewable, manipulable and understandable. This is important because it helps to perceive and understand issues so that we can begin to address and shape the system to fit our requirements.
Further it enables massively increased capability for Data Analysis, that being the process of studying the raw numbers and coming to informed conclusions on things like the performance of parts. Secondly, information transparency furthers the user’s capability in Information Provisioning, by creating context-aware systems and the use of a ‘digital twin’ so as to manage information and make the system aware of its configuration at all times. Internet of Things capabilities are essential to creating a digital twin as it acts as the ‘nerves’ to allow the system to effectively sense throughout its ‘body’.
Our ability to achieve increased information transparency comes as a result of the increased amount of interconnected systems and users subsequent to operating in accordance with Maintenance 4.0 principles. By studying the raw numbers and coming to informed conclusions on things like the performance of parts, a greater awareness of the system is gained. This is Data Analysis, and examples of what you can ascertain through it are things like tracking chronic defects in parts, schedule variations or asset valuation.
Information Transparency can also further the ability to model current and future performance of critical business assets through information provisioning. A ‘digital twin’ of the real world system can be modelled with this data to create a virtual version of the real asset. This is a powerful tool for manipulating the current configuration of a system in a virtual, low cost manor. Secondly, information transparency furthers the user’s capability in Information Provisioning by creating context-aware systems and the use of this digital twin so as to manage information and make the system aware of its configuration at all times. Internet of Things capabilities are essential to creating a digital twin as it acts as the ‘nerves’ to allow the system to effectively sense throughout its ‘body’.
Having live updating, context-aware data on these critical business assets is vital for the companies operating them to make informed decisions on how to utilise them most cost efficiently. This ability for a system to be context-aware is derived from sensor data in the real world being applied to a virtual model, providing the machine with a type of situational awareness of the world around it. This is useful for both reactive and preventive maintenance in rapidly knowing the position and configuration of a system.
An example of this is processing both virtual models and documents with physical sensor data such as the location or current condition of a machine, performed simultaneously to advance the understanding of the system more than with a singular data set. Once this has been accomplished there must be analytics performed on the data and it must be visualised in a simple, robust UI to achieve the goal of transparency of data for the end user.
As a whole Information Transparency is a powerful concept for decision making and understanding of a system, one that utilises the various strengths of Maintenance 4.0 to its fullest. Without first having a good understanding of the numbers and data behind an issue we are fumbling in the dark when trying to address it, and there is no better way to gain an understanding of an issue than the sort of statistical analysis possible through Information Transparency.