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Manufacturing Industry Updates

Breaking Down the Benefits of Preventive and Predictive Maintenance

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iStock/Mongkolchon Akesin

Manufacturers once frequently adopted reactive maintenance plans. They got equipment serviced only once breakdowns happened or other issues disrupted the workflow. However, it’s now more common to engage in preventive and predictive maintenance.

Whereas preventive maintenance involves having machines checked on a schedule regardless of whether known issues exist, predictive maintenance often relies on real-time information from connected sensors. Data analysis tools give alerts about impending failures before symptoms become apparent.

Here’s a look at the benefits you can expect by adopting preventive or predictive maintenance in your facility.

Promoting Business Continuity

Current and potential manufacturing clients want assurances that companies will keep output and quality consistent. However, satisfying those expectations becomes more challenging if companies abide by reactive maintenance plans.

Unexpected breakdowns stop operations and can prove costly for the affected parties. In some industries, even short-term unplanned production stoppages rack up expenses of tens of thousands of dollars or more. However, preventive and predictive maintenance make those events less likely to happen.

Consider researching which kinds of outages caused the most problems for your company over the last several years. Can you identify patterns that highlight the most rewarding and cost-effective ways to begin handling maintenance differently? If so, those are excellent starting points.

Saving Money

Even if inadequate maintenance does not cause total equipment outages, it could still cost a company more than necessary. Consider a machine that is out of alignment or vibrates excessively due to an unaddressed issue. It may cause decreases in product quality that require making those goods again to meet quality standards. In the worst-case scenario, insufficient maintenance could cause product recalls that hurt companies’ bottom lines and reputations.

You may find that predictive maintenance saves you the most money of the two approaches discussed here. That’s because it eliminates unnecessary maintenance appointments.

However, research indicates that 80% of maintenance professionals prefer preventive maintenance, especially when used as part of a multidimensional approach. Preventive maintenance stops costs from getting bigger, keeping costs down by letting companies avoid the most expensive repairs.

Some people initially think reactive maintenance saves them money. If you have the same belief, calculate the expenses associated with unexpected problems. You’ll more than likely discover that switching to a predictive or preventive maintenance plan offers superior financial sensibility.

Reducing Unnecessary Parts Inventory

Some manufacturing leaders think the smartest thing to do is take a just-in-case approach for spare parts. They stock up on components that may rarely or never get used, assuming that is the easiest way to avoid supply chain shortages that might keep machines out of commission for even longer than anticipated.

However, moving ahead with predictive maintenance or choosing preventive care could mean you stop keeping so many parts on hand before using them.

For example, preventive maintenance often enables spotting issues before a part replacement becomes an urgent need. Then, manufacturing purchasers have more leeway in finding the required parts and buying them.

Additionally, predictive maintenance makes people aware of issues sooner. Thus, many problems are not as time-sensitive, though you should still address them promptly.

If you’re especially eager to cut down on spare parts inventory, consider investing in a 3-D printer. A maintenance professional may even look at your equipment data before arriving on-site, then advise you to print a part before an appointment happens.

Defense officials in the United States are investigating 3-D printers that fit into 12-meter-long shipping containers. They believe those machines could address some of the lengthy delays associated with having rare parts shipped to remote or unsettled areas.

Lowering Injury Rates

Maintaining safety at a manufacturing plant requires a multipronged approach. It may involve training sessions, a culture of accident avoidance, and teaching people to inspect equipment before using it. Regular, proactive maintenance keeps people safer by reducing the chances of dangerous malfunctions, too. Those events can injure operators, as well as people nearby.

Similarly, if a manager prefers to have machines fixed hurriedly rather than thoroughly, the likelihood rises of people getting hurt or killed. Predictive and preventive maintenance encourages decision-makers to move away from a delayed maintenance strategy. Some managers wait as long as possible to fix problems, but that approach puts people at risk.

Instruct workers to immediately tell the correct parties if they notice strange behavior associated with a machine. Assure them that it’s always best to report even the most minor abnormalities than assume they’re overreacting by telling someone.

Some company leaders abide by reactive maintenance methods for decades. However, these examples show that superior choices exist in preventive and predictive maintenance. Switching to one or both in your facility takes time and effort, but you should find the outcomes well worthwhile.

Emily Newton is the editor-in-chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine exploring new innovations in the industrial sector.

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