Enhancing Overall Equipment Effectiveness and Improving Productivity with Predictive Maintenance and Digital Twins

Smart Factory technologies present a lot of opportunities for MedTech manufacturers. This includes everything from flexible manufacturing and mass customisation to deepening automation in the supply chain and taking advantage of the vast benefits offered by digital transformation.

All this is before you even think about the real-world applications of virtual and augmented realities, or the impact that AI and big data can have on new product design.

While there are significant strides being taken in all the above areas, one of the most rapidly advancing elements of Industry 4.0 and the Smart Factory is predictive maintenance.


SL Controls specialises in developing bespoke software solutions for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries to ensure continued regulatory compliance, improve OEE, and make production lines more productive and efficient. Find out more about SL Controls today.


Improving OEE and Overall Productivity

The reason for this rapid advance in the use of predictive maintenance is not difficult to understand.

After all, introducing predictive maintenance to the equipment in your production lines will:

  • Deliver immediate improvements in OEE
  • Reduce the cost of maintenance
  • Reduce unplanned downtime
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve the profitability of your facility

What is the future of this technology, however, and how can you benefit now?

What is Predictive Maintenance?

Predictive Maintenance is an advance on what is still the most common method of maintaining equipment in medical device manufacturing environments – scheduled maintenance.

Scheduled maintenance involves a combination of following the equipment manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule while also scheduling additional maintenance work that is appropriate to the actual wear and tear on the machine.

Even with scheduled maintenance, however, machines still breakdown.

Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, involves collecting real-time data about the state of the machine. This data is then analysed by algorithms which identify parts that are going to fail, planning maintenance work before this occurs.

This prevents situations where you replace good parts just because the maintenance schedule says so, plus it decreases the risk of parts failing that scheduled maintenance inevitably misses.

A True Industry 4.0 Solution

Predictive maintenance is about more than determining when maintenance should occur, however. In fact, predictive maintenance solutions also automate the resource-intensive administrative functions that are part of most maintenance processes.

This includes ordering parts and scheduling the maintenance work when it will have the least impact on production output and productivity.

As you can see, predictive maintenance is the quintessential Industry 4.0 technology. Not only does it facilitate decision-making based on real-time data, but it automates that decision-making process.

Combining Predictive Maintenance with Digital Twin Technology

Digital twin technology takes the concept of predictive maintenance a step further. It involves creating a virtual version of, in this case, a piece of equipment in a medical device manufacturing facility. You can also create digital twins of processes, products, and many other things.

The virtual version of the piece of equipment is an exact replica that receives updates from the real-world version via sensors.

This lets engineers and machine learning algorithms run simulations on the virtual twin to test any type of scenario.

So, instead of only being able to predict when a failure will occur based on past data, the virtual twin can create a new set of data so that engineers can analyse the maintenance and downtime impact of a potential future scenario. This can then, obviously, feed into the decision-making process.

The Potential of Digital Twins

Of course, digital twin technology can do much more than optimise equipment maintenance. You can also use it to make production processes more efficient, improve product quality, and more.

However, its impact on equipment maintenance and improving OEE is significant. Therefore, combining the two – predictive maintenance and digital twin technology – will result in substantial savings for your medical device manufacturing facility.

Find out more about digital twin and predictive maintenance technologies on the SL Controls website.