A Business Guide to Predictive Maintenance
Marketing, branding, growth hacking – these are compelling business topics that get an entrepreneur’s heart racing. Maintenance…not so much. But when you study the long-term health and sustainability of businesses in industrial niches and technological fields, few issues matter more. And over the past few years, the idea of predictive maintenance has risen to prominence.
What is Predictive Maintenance?
To those on the outside looking in, all maintenance might seem the same. However, there are actually a handful of different approaches. On one side, you have reactive maintenance. This is when you respond to an issue and invest in maintenance after the fact. On the other side, there’s preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance.
While these latter two forms of maintenance may sound the same, they’re actually quite distinct in application and execution.
- Preventive maintenance: There’s nothing new or revolutionary about preventive maintenance. It’s been the gold standard for decades and is used by millions of professionals across some industries. As expert Taylor Short explains, “It’s a logical process in which assets are repaired based on a calendar, informed by historical data about how and when a machine tends to fail.” The resounding theory is that it’s cheaper to fix a machine before it breaks than it is to replace it.
- Predictive maintenance: The same theory serves as the basis for predictive maintenance, but the approach is different. Rather than relying on historical trends, Short explains that predictive maintenance “uses real-time data gathered from assets to notify workers when something is starting to go wrong.” In this sense, it uses the actual condition of the asset to determine when repairs are needed.
If you’re looking for a real-world application of predictive maintenance, look no further than vibration analysis to find defects in ball bearings.
“Vibration analysis can alert us to subsurface defects in bearings before sufficient damage is done to bearing races to create vibration strong enough to register to the touch,” PinnacleART explains. “We can then perform maintenance to minimize damage to the equipment and maintain high-performance levels.”
There are dozens of other applications for predictive maintenance, which is why it’s quickly becoming the best and most accurate method around.
The Benefits of Predictive Maintenance
When businesses don’t invest in predictive maintenance, it’s because they don’t understand how it works or the benefits it produces. Hopefully, we’ve done a good job of explaining what predictive maintenance is. Now we’re going to focus on some of the key advantages it could provide for your business.
1. Lower Equipment Costs
The first and most obvious benefit of predictive maintenance is lower equipment costs. Instead of replacing the entire asset or component, a repair that’s made in advance prevents total failure and requires less involvement.
2. Lower Labor Costs
Predictive maintenance lowers maintenance costs by 50 percent. This is largely the result of predictability. When repairs are scheduled – even if just a day or two ahead of time – there’s less time and money involved. Parts can be ordered in smaller quantities and more time can be invested into repairing, rather than diagnosing.
3. Greater Safety
In industrial settings where employees interact with large and heavy equipment, a failure to properly maintain key assets can actually be dangerous. Predictive maintenance avoids hazardous situations that put employee health at risk.
4. Less Downtime
Time is money in the business world. In some industries, experiencing downtime on a piece of critical equipment can cost thousands of dollars per minute. Thankfully, Mobley’s research has shown that predictive maintenance increases uptime by a significant 30 percent.
5. Shorter Repair Time
Much of the reason for the lower downtime is that repairs take much less effort to complete. With predictive maintenance, it’s often as simple as going in and fixing one small part or issue, rather than a whole host of parts.
Some Food for Thought
It’s important to remember that there’s no “one size fits all” approach to maintenance. Even with predictive maintenance, you must take numerous factors into account and implement methods and procedures that give your business the best chance of being successful. If you can find a cost-effective predictive maintenance solution, give it a shot. If not, preventive maintenance is always better than reactive.