Brabant is famous all over the world for its high-tech manufacturing companies. It is this position that could make the province a top player in the field of maintenance as well.
Brabant is famous all over the world for its high-tech manufacturing companies. It is precisely this position that could make the province a top player in the field of maintenance, an essential part of a properly functioning high-tech ecosystem. Roughly speaking, you can divide the cost of a product into one-third purchase and two-thirds maintenance. But now that end products are increasingly being delivered to the customer as a service rather than as property, maintenance has changed from a cost item into a market opportunity. Brabant has everything it needs to acquire a position in the field of smart maintenance, the already existing activities are showing.
For the big players – companies like VDL, ASML, Philips, Vanderlande – smart maintenance is now fully part of the business processes. By already taking into account the later maintenance process in the design phase of a system, they ensure that their products are not only designed for quality but are also reliable in their use. This is certainly not the case for all smaller companies: according to PWC calculations, no less than 89% of companies do not take predictive maintenance sufficiently into account. If they did, these companies could increase their returns by tens of percent annually, McKinsey has calculated. And maintenance also provides a lot of employment: the maintenance market in the Netherlandsalready has a value of over thirty billion, or more than 4% of the gross domestic product, with employment for approximately 300,000 people.
These are exactly the industries within which Brabant also wants to play a bigger role with smart maintenance. To do so, Grimm says, it is essential that, in addition to focusing on key technologies, companies in the value chain work together even better. “In Brabant, we can connect the strengths, by making cross-sectoral connections between the high-tech manufacturing industry and the maintenance industry, for example around the aircraft maintenance industry in West Brabant. That offers opportunities to make innovations fundamentally circular, maintenance-friendly and recyclable.”
John den Ridder, Program Manager Hightech Maintenance at REWIN, sees West Brabant as a key player in the Smart Maintenance ecosystem, “with a link to Zeeland, central Brabant, Rotterdam, and Antwerp.” The focus is on sectors such as aerospace, maritime, and the industries around food, chemicals, and mechanical engineering. “There are many companies that understand the importance of smart maintenance, but at the same time we have to conclude that there is still a lot of work to be done.” Den Ridder is committed to cooperation between educational institutions, companies, and the government in order to build a future-proof maintenance sector. “Together with the business community, municipalities, Curio and Avans University of Applied Sciences, for example, we are working on robotization and digitization. Partly thanks to European funding, we can set up hubs where we can bring together companies and knowledge institutions to inspire others to give smart maintenance the attention it deserves. This is especially essential for the somewhat smaller companies.”
A key development to increase efficiency and margin on capital-intensive goods is, therefore, the implementation of predictive maintenance. Grimm: “If you can predict when maintenance is required, you can anticipate all kinds of processes. In this area, for example, World Class Maintenance at Gate2 is active with the field lab Campione2. Think about the availability of talents and components, the optimal intervention moment, logistics of componentss and mechanics, and financial planning.”
Den Ridder and Grimm see lots of examples in Brabant to make smart maintenance a spearhead. “Crossovers are occurring with, among others, the maintenance of wind turbines, automotive, and bridges. We also see more and more initiatives in important sectors such as AI, 3D printing, robotization, and the development of sensors and new materials such as ‘self-healing’ coatings. At Breda Robotics, robotics companies and educational institutions are working on maintenance robots as part of smart maintenance labs. We are working with NLR and TU Delft for this and at Aviolanda in Woensdrecht the field lab DCMC is developing a hub where companies and educational institutions are trying to shape the total maintenance chain in the field of composites.”
Den Ridder also sees great opportunities for the composite industry: “A considerable part of the current civil aviation fleet will be replaced in the coming years by full-frame composite. That is cheaper and lighter. It is therefore only logical that there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of certification, monitoring, and repairing. That’s something we can now capitalize on.”
Source: Innovation Origins