Preventive and Predictive Maintenance (and How Software Can Help)


Equipment Preventive and Predictive Maintenance (and How Software Can Help)

What is Preventive Maintenance?

What Is Predictive Maintenance?

What Do Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Mean to Factories?

When Is Equipment Preventive Maintenance Necessary?

When Is Predictive Maintenance Necessary?

How To Evolve Your Factory Maintenance with Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Program Software

A Surprising Preventive Maintenance Case Study

Preventive Maintenance 101: 5 Mindful Maintenance Concepts


Equipment Preventive and Predictive Maintenance (and How Software Can Help)

Ever try to meet your daily quota when one of your machines is out of commission for unexpected maintenance? It probably wasn’t a “fun” day.

For a factory to meet production goals, manufacturing equipment must be available.

It’s that simple.

What’s not simple is equipment complexity and finding available resources to keep the equipment running. There is one certainty in manufacturing: machines break down. And it’s up to the maintenance department to fix them. However, if a factory practices only reactive maintenance, maintenance technicians will always be reactive and never gain the upper hand.

Reactive maintenance is also expensive because no planning process exists to accrue cost savings; that’s why many factories utilize ongoing Preventive Maintenance (also known as "PM"). However, some factory maintenance teams also practice Predictive Maintenance.

This post will share the differences between preventive and predictive maintenance, and discuss the advantages of each.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is when factory maintenance teams inspect equipment to identify failures before they occur, based on specific triggers. Machines can have hundreds of parts, so preventive maintenance typically focuses on parts that have limited lifespans or are critical to product quality and throughput.

There are typically two kinds of triggers that start preventive maintenance operations:

  • Usage-Based Preventive Maintenance – inspect and replace parts based on number of completed production cycles.
  • Time-Based Preventive Maintenance – i.e., the number of hours a part has been in use.

Either of these specific triggers helps maintenance teams stay ahead of basic repairs, thus preventing major stoppages. But what is the difference between preventive and predictive maintenance?

What Is Predictive Maintenance?

Predictive Maintenance is similar to Preventive Maintenance, in that it tries to proactively prevent major shutdowns. But instead, predictive maintenance relies on system-generated data to trigger repair notifications. Under predictive maintenance, teams perform maintenance when sensors, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications indicate that a part or component is failing or has reached a standard where failure is imminent. So in other words, predictive maintenance is based on real-time component conditions; this is different from time and usage-based preventive maintenance, where you base repairs or replacements on predetermined component life expectation standards.

With predictive maintenance, you have more control over your maintenance and rely on much less guesswork. Factories need to incorporate a combination of both preventive and predictive maintenance approaches and practices to optimize equipment performance, longevity, and repeatability. 

What Do Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Mean to Factories?

Preventive Maintenance is important to manufacturing because it’s a best-practice that reduces the likelihood of significant production disruptions that impact supply chain logistics, manufacturing costs, and ROI. In general, it also reduces total maintenance costs because the scope of Preventive Maintenance is incrementally smaller and many Preventive Maintenance tasks can be performed by even entry level associates when provided with proper training. Unfortunately, the deployment of preventive maintenance can be challenging if maintenance teams are caught up in the cycle of endless reactive maintenance issues.

Predictive Maintenance is designed to forestall, if not eliminate entirely, breakdowns and stoppages altogether. Using historical data derived from a number of sources, one can Predict the frequency with which Predictive Maintenance will be performed with great accuracy, thus allowing production to anticipate with great certainty when servicing and replacement work will take place, even when equipment is running, seemingly with no issues and concerns (which is precisely the idea). 

Although these philosophies work in conjunction extremely well, there is one appreciable difference between them that is worth noting. Preventive Maintenance is planned in advance, both the tasks and the timing, so as not to disrupt production processes. Planning is also a factor in Predictive Maintenance, but the application of the planning differs slightly. While Preventive Maintenance is performed at regular intervals, those intervals are easier to pinpoint, thus enabling operations to be scheduled around them, if you will. Predictive Maintenance, on the other hand, also lends itself to advanced planning, albeit of a slightly different nature. Predictive Maintenance can be anticipated based on how many cycles, how many hours, etc., have been run or reached by a machine. These are known, quantifiable variables. What is sometimes less transparent is the rationale behind Predictive Maintenance when the equipment is running well, with no immediately visible issues. 

When Is Equipment Preventive Maintenance Necessary? 

Some Preventive Maintenance makes good sense no matter what.

Think of vaccines or annual flu shots. If you are in a high risk demographic, you're going to get that flu shot every single year come heck or high water. 

It's the right thing to do, for you, for the right reasons.

That does not mean it's the right thing for every person, regardless of their circumstances. So, in this example, Preventive Maintenance is not a waste of money for you

How about tires and oil changes? This applies not only to your own vehicles, but to equipment as well. Do you change the tires every 50 or 60,000 miles no matter what?


Even on your lawn mower?

You check the tire pressure, watch for wear, have your tires rotated per the manufacturer's recommendation. Seems like you can get closer to 50,000 miles safely with no concerns. You might have to rethink about whether that mandatory Preventive Maintenance routine is or isn’t a waste of time and money. 

The same with oil changes. We used to be told every three months or 3,000 miles no matter what. Or else. Remember that time you forgot? Before you knew it, six months and 5,000 miles had passed. Yikes!

Get in there right now!

You change the oil. Heck, it barely looked used. When oil prices skyrocketed a few years ago, suddenly extending those oil changes for longer periods of time and more miles was not a cause for public shaming. 

How about airplane tires? There are strict guidelines about replacing airplane tires. Personally, I want to know all those Preventive Maintenance tasks have been completed.

Pulling into the driveway is different than landing a plane that's just been traveling at 500 mph, after all. I want those puppies to have some traction!

In this case, Preventive Maintenance is not a waste of time or money. Exactly what price tag would you put on peace of mind? 

The people responsible for airplane tire safety err on the side of caution, exceeding the Preventive Maintenance guidelines when signs of wear appear early in the PM cycle. 

Let's have a show of hands: How many of you change the water filter in your refrigerator as often as the owner's manual indicates or as often as that irritating light comes on? If you're like me, you rarely have a replacement filter when 'it's time.' And the water is still refreshing and delicious!

Strict adherence to this particulate Preventive Maintenance routine feels like a waste of money. Especially when you realized that you can press in the button for three seconds and the change filter light goes away. Yeah, that sensor does a whole lot of good. 

When Is Predictive Maintenance Necessary?

Let’s talk for a moment about when Predictive Maintenance is necessary. Remember about seven seconds ago when I talked about maintenance on the airplane tires of landing equipment? There are some maintenance tasks that specifically pertain to Preventive Maintenance for landing gear tires. There are entirely separate, different tasks that are part of Predictive Maintenance for the tires on airplane landing gear. Predictive Maintenance dictates that those tires be changed at specified intervals. In this case, the Predictive Maintenance dictates the frequency with which this task is performed, without exception, regardless of the appearance or even measurements like pressure or thickness. Why, you might ask? Because no one associated with any airline or airplane maintenance group wants a tragedy on their hands due to a landing gear tire malfunction. The guilt would be devastating, as would the impact to the reputation and future of their company. If this isn’t incentive enough, there’s also the monetary aspect, which would be considerable if not catastrophic. 

How To Evolve Your Factory Maintenance with Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Program Software 

The decision to implement preventive and predictive maintenance is based largely on what type of maintenance system you are currently using. If you’re stuck on a system that keeps you guessing, you need to break the cycle. So at this point, you may wonder how you escape the waste generated by reactive maintenance. You’re not alone.

Every day, large and small manufacturing maintenance teams across all verticals have the same issues:

  • Manual maintenance systems don’t work because they are paper or spreadsheet-based, capture limited data, and never create a culture of continuous improvement.
  • As factories are increasingly embracing Industry 4.0, manual maintenance processes are falling behind.
  • Maintenance functions in MES and ERP systems are not user-friendly and require system experts to enter and extract data.
  • Companies’ “standard” CMMS systems are frequently hard to use, do not show real-time data, and have no information on spares. Even worse, they do not help Maintenance integrate with Production or facilitate problem-solving.

The solution to these is to move toward a system that’s user-friendly, built for the factory floor, and has enough robust data to make it possible to conduct maintenance proactively. Easier said than done, right? 

Equipment Preventive Maintenance Software

Consider L2L’s Next Gen CMMS software. It successfully breaks these paradigms by providing maintenance departments a user-friendly tool built for the factory floor.

Here’s how it works: With L2L, line operators can generate real-time digital dispatches for maintenance. Upon receipt, the maintenance technician can see the abnormality details, the machine repair history, spares availability, and access to procedures and manuals – all in one digital solution. And most importantly, L2L’s Next Gen CMMS easily integrates with sensors and PLCs to capture IoT data so you can perform best-in-class preventive and predictive maintenance processes.

Production Software

A Surprising Preventive Maintenance Case Study

Here's a real world scenario. Some maintenance friends shared this story with me. There was a type of equipment in their plant that required removing a cable and greasing the end of a high voltage cable every month. 

This scheduled Preventive Maintenance was not the result of any proven defect or failure rate in their shop.

That's what the equipment manufacturer told them was supposed to happen. Every time they removed that cable to grease it, something broke or went wrong. And then the line was down. Way down.

So why did they continue down this path without question? Because the manufacturer told them they had to. Coincidentally, the manufacturer also sold replacement parts. Which was really lucky, because remember, some other component broke almost every single time. 

An uppity Preventive Maintenance Tech—we'll call him Bob, said,—"Why are we removing this cable to grease the end every month?

There are no failures reported by the line, so what are we responding to?" Someone actually listened to that whipper snapper and they decided not to perform the prescribed Preventive Maintenance on one single machine until they had a failure.

A month goes by.

Then another.

Then another.

Wait, what?

Three whole months? 

They decided to expand the scope of their experiment. They stopped performing the monthly cable removal and greasing.

To their amazement, they did not have one single failure for an entire year! And no adverse impact on product quality.

They changed the Preventive Maintenance schedule to 'replace upon failure.' They saved a ton of time, a bunch of money, and loads of downtime on the lines. 

The replacement part manufacturer called one day to inquire why they were not buying replacement parts at the same rate as previously. When they heard that they weren't performing the monthly Preventive Maintenance as instructed, he could only throw his hands up out of concern. For his bonus. 

It's your shop. It's your equipment. It's your time and it's your money. Make sure your Preventive Maintenance is benefiting you and not just bossing you around. 

Remember: the goal isn’t to perform more Preventive Maintenance, only what’s necessary.

Determining what's necessary is really easy with a software like L2L's Next Gen CMMS, which tracks events in real time. If you’d like to take control of your own Preventive Maintenance destiny, let’s talk.

Preventive Maintenance 101: 5 Mindful Maintenance Concepts

Mindfulness Maintenance. It's the new ideal for efficiency in production for many industries.  Preventive maintenance is a key ingredient in the reliability of equipment and essential systems for industrial operations. To effectively manage a preventive maintenance program, there are several best practices to build rigor and discipline into your program and achieve overall system and equipment reliability.

 Preventative Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance Concept #1: Gather Data Regularly

Data is paramount in a preventive maintenance program. It not only serves as a historical record but also is the core of predictive analytics statistics that help you plan for future maintenance. Knowing when equipment and components were installed, repaired or maintained, provides useful information. Such data tells you which parts were changed, when, where, and why. It helps drives future decisions and enables you to budget, plan, and spend wisely.

Preventive Maintenance Concept #2: Use the Data You Gather

Often maintenance managers will go to extreme measures to gather and record data, but then fail to put it to use. Think ‘Analysis Paralysis’. Calculate the time between repairs, replacements, failures, and servicing. Build averages and mean-time-between failures or repairs, as a guide to stocking part inventory levels and planned shut downs. Use it to build predictive analytics that can tell you when to schedule equipment overhaul, change a filter, fluid, or other material.

This will pay great dividends by allowing your spare parts inventory levels to be lean and right-sized, while preventing disruption from failures, unplanned maintenance, and interrupted operations.

Preventive Maintenance Concept #3: Understand the Lifecycle of Your Equipment and Systems 

Preventive maintenance pays the most dividends when a lifecycle approach is applied. Don’t just focus on the next few months or years. Instead focus on the lifespan of equipment and how it can achieve a full-service life. It costs far more to replace a machine or process than it does to maintain it properly and keep maintaining it. What are the long-term needs of the equipment or system you're maintaining? What actions can and should you take to help it reach its expected service life? This often means scheduling maintenance at its mid-life or even 20 years forward. Think lifecycle, and adjust your maintenance activities to achieve a longer service life.

Preventive Maintenance Concept #4: Understand What Failure Looks Like

Knowing when faults occur is a very important part of crafting your preventive maintenance program. In gathering data and recording performance, record when parts fail or wear to the point of replacement. Recording failures and replacements will help develop the discipline to narrow down what parts and subsystems are most prone to failure.

These days, a motor rebuild because of a worn component probably doesn't make sense, but having indicators that tell you when the motor is getting close to failure is critical to having the right spare on hand for a quick replacement.   

By accurately capturing and recording failures, faults, and worn parts, you’ll discover how to repair and maintain equipment, now and well into the future. If you know where your risk of failure lies, by conducting fault-finding discovery, you'll be greatly rewarded with leaner inventories and less time wasted repairing something that doesn't need an extensive repair.

Preventive Maintenance Concept #5 Be Mindful of Time Dedicated to Maintenance

This leads to another very important attribute of any preventive maintenance program for your auxiliary equipment and machinery: your maintenance culture. Train personnel in Preventive Maintenance. Planned, Preventive Maintenance is far better than reactive maintenance.

Share data across your Maintenance Team about repairs, failures, and maintenance schedules. Educate them about equipment lifecycles and solicit their input to help parts and equipment last longer and wear less. Make them part of the overall preventive maintenance program by using their feedback, educating them on historical maintenance data, and training them to take actions that will prevent premature failures. Get them excited about preventive maintenance by building a culture where everyone thinks long term, without waste in material and time, and with a great appreciation for lifecycle extension and reliability.


Predictive and Preventative maintenance aren’t out of reach, and program software can help. They’re an industry best-practice that you should adopt, as they’ll boost your logistics, lower your costs, and improve your revenue. And a solution like L2L’s Next Gen CMMS makes that easier than ever.

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