Electronic Maintenance – Are you sitting on a ticking bomb?
Did you plan electronic maintenance of your printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) 10, 20, or even 30 years ago when you sold industrial equipment like elevators, power plants or trains?
In the late 80s, industrial products like power plants, elevators, and trains were starting to become highly automated and electronically controlled rather than mechanically or electro-mechanically controlled as they had been in the past. Many of those products are still in operation. They have been maintained mechanically with a well thought-out process to replace parts using cycles based on predicted wear. How about the electronics in those products? Do the components operate as they used to do when they were first installed?
There are many challenges to electronics due to harsh environments.
The durability that industrial electronics requires is substantial. All electronic components are subject to electrical and/or mechanical degradation, but integrated circuits cannot function if even a single one of its critical components, such as discrete capacitors, resistors and coils, fails. Industrial devices often operate in harsh environments where extreme temperature, humidity, pollution, dust, mechanical vibrations, and electrostatic discharge are present. These conditions affect the lifetime durability of all components including integrated circuits.
Depending on the conditions of deployment, certain electronic products can become filthy. This build-up of residue, along with metal abrasion from the atmosphere, can negatively affect the endurance of electronic parts. The effects these particulates have on the functionality of these products are foreseeable. There is the danger of short circuits, problems with overheating, destruction caused by chemical reactions such as corrosion, and reduced reliability of the PCBA.
Like the mechanical parts of a product, regular maintenance of the electronics can reduce the risk of failure. After-sales experts have found that 30-40% of repairs can be reduced through planned maintenance, such as sophisticated logistics for spare parts and professional repair of the components. With a built-in service plan, schedule and timely maintenance, the electronic life-span of the device can be extended, breakdowns can be avoided, and the continued functionality of the device can be assured. But what role and actions should a suitable partner take towards electronic maintenance?
At first, the answer seems clear: all you need is an adequate, economical, maintenance program. But this is by far not enough. To extend the life of your electronics you need real-time, professional advice based on inspections, technical data and broad field experience combined with knowledge about the wear and failure behavior of electrical components. When the equipment is installed, the expectation should be that the electronics will be maintained so they continue to perform as they did in their new condition. Basic capabilities for a partner, therefore, should be know-how concerning the product, its repair, and its operation, so that a rapid diagnosis, prompt repair, and a high-quality level of maintenance can be ensured. Last, but not least, a professional inspection of the as-is condition will typically determine which service steps are necessary.
By having an electronics maintenance plan, customized to your specific product, you can ensure that the product will continue to operate as required in demanding environmental conditions and that the operational lifetime of your industrial electronics can be greatly extended.
Your electronics can survive decades using the right partner and clever maintenance!
Are you interested in learning more?
Would you like to hear about our Electronics Maintenance services? Contact our Engineering Staff (For Industrial OEMs only):