For too long, companies have operated on a purely reactive basis. A machine breaks down, it gets fixed. And while reactive maintenance is direct—and for many purposes, it works—it's not the best solution. Proactive maintenance makes it possible to address problems with machinery before they cause failures. Anticipating these equipment issues increases efficiency, reduces costs, and even improves safety.
Here's what you need to know about the benefits of predictive maintenance in a proactive maintenance strategy.
Why Reactive Maintenance Isn't the Best Solution
Reactive maintenance is direct. And for small companies, it's the most straightforward option. But new technology, such as predictive AI solutions and IoT devices, make it easier for any organization to engage in proactive maintenance instead. At Allied, we believe that all companies, no matter how large or small, benefit from a proactive maintenance strategy.
Here are some of the major issues when it comes to a reactive maintenance strategy:
- Increased downtime. It costs more to fix a machine than it does to maintain it. Waiting for something to fail means downtime while you wait for ordered parts and then the labor time while it’s getting fixed—potentially leading to late delivery and lost customers. Instead, if the organization had been maintaining the machine and knew what was coming, it could proactively planned for this maintenance in advance.
- Damaged goods and wasted materials. When machines break down, they don't just cost money to repair. They also cost money in terms of damaged goods and wasted materials. Proactive maintenance means that you're less likely to experience these problems, and that will improve your organization's overall ROI.
- Higher maintenance costs. A machine's repairs can become more significant and severe the longer it goes without maintenance. Proactively monitoring a machine to identify problems before they become serious could cost $1,000, whereas repairing it after a defect causes the machine to break down could cost $10,000. Various factors converge to create this increase, from ancillary equipment defects to increased costs from expediting repair parts and labor from repair and potential overtime. The downtime that results only further expounds the rising costs. Proactive maintenance reduces overall maintenance costs and makes it possible to anticipate the costs as well.
- Reduced productivity. When a machine is down, that means that work is down. Employees may not be as productive as they should be. They may not be able to be productive at all. Proactive maintenance keeps machines going, and it keeps employees working. A critical machine breaking down unexpectedly could mean that an organization has a backlog of a week of work or more.
- Increased energy costs. Efficiency can also be impacted by maintenance. For instance, if air filters are not changed frequently, a machine may take far more energy to operate, as it would also if it were not properly aligned. Proactive maintenance decreases energy costs as well as wear on the machine.
- Reduced safety. Machinery and equipment that is not properly maintained can also become dangerous, a fact that is supported by prominent voices in the reliability community such as Ron Moore in his book, Making Common Sense Common Practice. The truth is that reliability and safety go hand in hand.
As you can see, there are a number of problems with reactive maintenance. But many companies stay with reactive maintenance because it's all they know, or because they don't know how to build predictive strategies. Yet the single biggest reason is because companies don’t know how to gain the time to get out of the firefighting cycle.
What Is Predictive Maintenance?
Predictive maintenance uses data-driven processes to identify insights and required actions that need to be taken before machinery breaks down. In addition to scheduling corrective maintenance, with the use of such connected sensors we are able to identify variation in operation and an early identification of defects, which allotts us with more time to follow the work execution process, yielding lower operational costs to the overall business. The advantages are clear.
Organizations are able to maintain their systems more consistently and reduce the chances of business disruption. They are able to take better care of their machines, and ultimately improve their ROI.
But the barrier that many companies face is that they aren't sure how they can start implementing a predictive strategy. Foremost, the company needs the right processes, tools, and technology. A company can't engage in predictive maintenance without knowing what it needs to monitor, how, and at what frequency. Second, the company needs a partner that can help it shift from its existing reactive processes to a proactive, predictive approach.
Companies often falter when trying to transition to a new culture because everyone – employees and C-suite executives – need to be onboard. However, with the right processes and technology, companies can both save money and be more productive.
Are you interested in developing a proactive maintenance strategy? Do you want to be able to react more swiftly to potential issues, rather than reacting only after they occur? Consider key PdM technologies.