Written by: on

What Is Predictive Maintenance, and Is It right for Your Team?

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Table Of Contents

    Keeping your equipment in good condition is a no-brainer. There are many ways you can achieve this goal — preventative maintenance, corrective maintenance, and proactive maintenance, to name a few. But what I want to answer here is: What is predictive maintenance, and why might it be the right approach for your team?

    One of my first experiences with predictive maintenance was when I was in an auto shop class back in high school. I saw the teacher hold a screwdriver to his ear, then place it on the valve cover of the engine. He said that he could tell the health of the engine by listening to it through that screwdriver.

    Now, I thought that seemed crazy. But to make a long story short, like the screwdriver, those were the methods that were used back then to predict coming problems. Today, we have many options for predicting downtime.

    Here are the three phases of the predictive maintenance process that you need to be aware of:


    Predictive Maintenance: Phase 1

    Inspection: monitoring the condition of components of the machine. This could include frequent inspections like: 

    • Vibration analysis 

    • Temperature analysis 

    • Oil analysis 

    These are things you might do on a regular basis to check the condition of the components. Another approach might be real-time monitoring with measuring devices attached to the equipment. For example:

    • Pressures 

    • Flow Rates 

    • Temperatures 


    Predictive Maintenance: Phase 2 

    Detection: Once you accumulate enough data from inspections and collections, you need to understand what it's telling you.

    Can you make a good decision based on the information you've collected? You'll need to know your failure criteria based on established parameters.

    You can establish these parameters by reviewing past equipment performance history, applying manufacturer recommendations, and doing Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) to determine your inspection criteria and how often you need to perform inspections.

    Once you've established these parameters, you have a baseline to start from, and you're ready to move on to the last phase.


    Predictive Maintenance: Phase 3 

    Corrective actions: Based on data analysis and the parameters you've defined to protect you from failure, you've decided it's time to define a maintenance plan. Now, it's time to plan and execute the equipment maintenance you need to complete during planned downtime.

    But before you commit to spending the time, money, and effort required to put a predictive maintenance program in place, you first need to consider some pros and cons. Predictive maintenance is not a silver bullet that will eliminate all the unplanned downtime events, so you need to be smart about where you start.


    Pros and Cons of Predictive Maintenance

    First, let's touch on some cons of predictive maintenance:

    • You need to have highly-trained technicians or engineers who can read and interpret the data.

    • Testing takes time, and inspection equipment costs money.

    • You need extra money for outside analysis.

    • You need extra money when you have to bring manufacturers in to help with data collection and make recommendations.

    • Procuring and maintaining monitoring devices connected to machines costs money.  

    • This inventory takes up real estate and liquid cash. 

    Now that the unpleasantries are out of the way, there are many pros to consider as well: 

    • Predictive maintenance saves costs by prolonging the life of your assets.

    • Predictive maintenance saves time because you're only performing maintenance when it's needed, based on the condition of the part. 

    • Inspections usually can be performed during runtime or are monitored in real time, saving labor costs.

    • Predictive maintenance reduces costs associated with storing spare parts in your warehouse. When your inspections detect a problem, you order replacement parts ahead of time so they'll be ready before the machine breaks down.

    • It can boost energy savings for your plant, as heat generated from electrical parts can be costly.


    Launching Your Predictive Maintenance Program

    There are many things to consider before you launch your predictive maintenance program. My advice is to start small. Let the machine history data tell you where to spend the time and money for your inspections and monitoring. Continue to grow and learn as you go.

    To wrap up, we talked about the three phases of predictive maintenance:

    1. Inspections to monitor the condition of the components.

    2. Detection to understand what the condition of the component and the data are telling you.

    3. Corrective actions — putting a plan in place and executing it before equipment goes down.

    To optimize your predictive maintenance program, you need a digital CMMS system like L2L's next-gen CMMS that helps in collecting and storing that data. L2L can help you analyze and manage the equipment history so you can make better decisions and reach your downtime reduction targets.

    Stay safe, think things through, and remember to use the right tools for the jobs. When predictive maintenance is the job, L2L is the right tool!