Predictive maintenance sounds great – maintain your assets, before they show outward signs of failure and cause unplanned downtime (loss of revenue), whilst spending less money than you would for a preventative maintenance program – boosting profitability and throughput. The benefits are quite clear.
Why then do relatively few companies have an active predictive maintenance program?
Barrier To Using Technology
Manufacturing companies are optimised for the flow and assembly of materials – they are not traditionally experts in condition monitoring or data analysis and we don’t believe they should have to be. Until recently, successful predictive maintenance has required either deep pockets for external consultants or a team of experienced in-house condition monitoring experts.
There is also a general belief that to take advantage of predictive maintenance requires a heavy investment in the ‘Internet of Things’ / Industry 4.0. The problem is rarely technology but accessibility; the data needs to be brought out and stored.
A paradigm-shift in maintenance approach can be difficult to initially justify, given a fear of the unknown and the belief (often misplaced) that ‘what we have works’. Adopting predictive maintenance does require an initial outlay but looking at the short-term view must be discouraged – successful predictive maintenance is continuously demonstrated as saving upwards of 20% of operations and maintenance costs. The long-term view is to understand that a successful program will result in a reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as well as significantly less downtime (between 30-50%).
External consultants and ‘box pushers’ of traditional condition monitoring hardware will be keen to inflate the scope of any predictive maintenance project as much as possible but that can be a recipe for unrecoverable costs and a return to inefficiency. Any maintainer will say it’s crucial to bring the right tools for the job, selecting the right predictive maintenance software and approach is no different.
To overcome this barrier, start small, prove gains on select assets with minimal investment and then multiply those gains.
Maintenance can often be seen as a fire-fighting activity, with facilities managers doing the absolute best they can in situations where they are given little to no warning of impending disaster. There is a justifiable fear that changing anything at all could lead to further problems, this is why it’s absolutely key that any predictive maintenance program is introduced slowly and that the benefits to everyone can be clearly and consistently demonstrated.
We sometimes encounter a concern that predictive maintenance could threaten job security for people who maintain the machinery – Sensor-Works take the opposite view that with the right predictive maintenance tools they can contribute even more significantly to reducing unplanned downtime.
Once predictive maintenance has been demonstrated on a small number of assets and the benefits have been clearly understood, cultural resistance tends to melt away.
Get a grip on downtime
Reduce the Total Cost of Ownership of your assets, increasing throughput, saving money and improving profitability with Sensor-Works, our condition monitoring and data analysis software to help you to enable predictive maintenance without the pain.