Downtime costs money, and the most destructive and costly downtime comes in the form of unplanned outages. These outages are typically addressed by reactive maintenance. Reactive maintenance (a euphemism for service) of machine and line failures can cost significantly more than planned maintenance, as an unexpected shutdown halts production, incurs repair costs, and may require extensive replacement of broken machinery.
While planned is preferable to unplanned maintenance, not all types of planned maintenance are the same. In this article, we’ll compare predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance.
Preventive (or preventative) maintenance is planned and administered to equipment in advance, to reduce the chance that it will fail. There preventive maintenance can be administered based on usage limits or a preset schedule.
Usage-based preventive maintenance is applied as equipment reaches an operational threshold (e.g. hours in use, production cycles, or distance reached). Scheduled-based maintenance occurs at regular intervals, regardless of usage, to ensure that no issues are emerging that could lead it to break down and stop production.
While prevention is preferable to letting things run to failure, there are drawbacks. Whether time-based or usage-based, the threshold triggering maintenance is in reality an educated guess. Equipment runs the risk of breaking down before the next maintenance visit, but more likely, you’ll be wasting resources over the lifespan of an asset for unnecessary maintenance.
In contrast, predictive maintenance tracks an asset’s performance, status, and health in real time, using connected condition-monitoring tools. These tools detect equipment abnormalities during normal operation, allowing products to be maintained whenever they require it—but only when they require it.
Predictive maintenance is a newer approach and requires a digitalization of condition-based machine monitoring, and some investment of technology. Machines must be equipped with sensors, connected to an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform, and configured for customized views and notifications. The complexity in delivering this type of condition monitoring depends on the age, diversity, and amount of equipment. Robust IIoT platforms, such as PTC’s ThingWorx, are designed to support complex, heterogenous environments, and to simplify the implementation of the IIoT and IIoT-based solutions.
While some organizations have resisted the perceived complexity and cost of the initial investment, a cost-benefit analysis usually exposes a fairly rapid ROI—particularly when accounting for unplanned downtime incidents. In the race for reduced downtime, preventative maintenance has quickly matured from a nice-to-have feature to a mission-critical core capability.
In industrial settings, equipment is part of a complex network; when any single part fails, it impacts the surrounding value chain. Even if it’s a relatively minor problem, it has the potential to halt a line, floor, or worse, an entire facility. For some industrial companies, minutes of downtime are measured in millions of dollars.
Preventive maintenance combined with the IoT helps you to rapidly detect problems before things get that far. It makes it easy to streamline the whole process, automating work orders and ordering the supplies you need, much in the same way as scheduled preventive maintenance.
While there is an upfront requirement of resources to correctly implement an IIoT platform and condition monitoring, the benefits enabled by predictive maintenance far outweigh these resources. Additionally, the connectivity established for an IIoT-driven condition-monitoring application can be leveraged beyond predictive maintenance. Analytics, automation, and integration between OT factory equipment and corporate IT systems open huge avenues to further increase efficiency and output, while preventing downtime and reducing waste.
One of the benefits of the IIoT is that you can leverage increasing value, by starting with tactical projects that deliver an ROI, and scale up to larger, more impactful changes across your organization. Get your complimentary copy of Tech-Clarity’s eBook “Improving Manufacturing Performance with IIoT Analytics” to learn how IIoT analytics can build on remote monitoring to drive substantial value to your organization. To get more resources about remote monitoring in service settings, visit our remote monitoring resource page.