What Is Preventive Maintenance?

Abby Baumann Jul 29, 2022
preventative maintenance

One old adage for car maintenance is “take care of the ride, and the ride will take care of you.” The same thought process applies to preventive maintenance in manufacturing — except on a much, much larger scale.

In its 2019 Predictive Maintenance Survey, Reliable Plant finds that manufacturing and process industries lose between $20 billion and $60 billion to unscheduled downtime every year. This represents billions and billions of dollars lost every year because of breakdowns, equipment failure, decreased workforce productivity, and sales lost to all of the above.

While manufacturers can’t eliminate breakdowns completely, you can reduce them and moderate their impact by implementing a proactive maintenance program. Preventive maintenance (PM) prolongs the lifespan of a company’s assets, equipment, and infrastructure by adjusting or repairing parts on a timely basis.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of machine maintenance, explain what preventive maintenance is, introduce the various types of preventive maintenance, and conclude by highlighting its benefits.

What Is Preventive Maintenance?

In its most basic form, effective preventive maintenance is simply implementing a regular schedule of maintenance activities to keep critical equipment in peak operating condition, including:

  • Predicting how long a part will last before it needs to be replaced

  • Projecting the quantity of spare parts that needs to be kept on hand to repair the equipment

  • Determining how often lubrication and other maintenance activity is required

  • Promoting adherence to manufacturer recommendations for routine maintenance

A preventive maintenance strategy seeks to keep small issues from becoming big problems. Maintenance activities are carried out to increase the useful life for each piece of equipment and maximize production uptime. Regular condition monitoring and systematic corrective maintenance are all designed to reduce failures (or minimize their impact).

The 3 Types of Preventive Maintenance

Ideally, preventive maintenance tasks would be performed at the exact moment they are needed, and accomplished in a way that doesn’t impede production workflow or prove to be overly cost-burdensome.

The reality is that plant managers must gather real-time data insights, often using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), and combine that information with their experience to create a solid preventive maintenance program. The different types of facility management options include:

1) Time-Based Preventive Maintenance

This approach takes the guesswork out of a preventive maintenance plan. It simply states that maintenance work must be performed on a given schedule. This might be some type of set interval, such as every 30 days, or a given activity like performing an inspection of critical assets on the first of every month.

2) Usage-Based Preventive Maintenance

A variation of the time-based approach, a usage-based preventive maintenance schedule establishes set parameters for maintenance based on asset usage. Similar to performing auto maintenance every 5,000 miles, this plan triggers a maintenance activity based on a piece of equipment’s production hours or production cycles.

3) Condition-Based Preventive Maintenance

This maintenance process is a bit more involved, as it requires condition monitoring a piece of equipment on a regular basis to determine whether a specific maintenance task should be performed. This approach looks for signs of wear or deteriorating performance as an indicator of potential upcoming failure. Parameters might state that a certain level of temperature or vibration needs to be reached, for example, before you place maintenance work orders.

Examples of Preventive Maintenance

New Equipment Digest reports that, “A predictive maintenance program can reduce unexpected failure by up to 90%.” Examples of preventive maintenance might include:

  • Regular equipment inspections

  • Consistent oil changes

  • Routine condition monitoring

  • Bearing replacement

  • Scheduled equipment upgrades

  • Inventory and replacement parts control

  • Power source monitoring

  • Measuring vibration, emissions and temperature levels

  • Appropriately timed equipment replacement

In addition to individual equipment maintenance, plant preventive maintenance procedures should include regularly checking HVAC, water, sanitation, and electrical systems to ensure they are functioning at peak efficiency — and within required safety and compliance levels.

Benefits of Investing in Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance has become a huge global market that is predicted to increase dramatically over the next few years, no matter what type of maintenance is performed. Although the major benefit is certainly realized through a reduction in unplanned downtime, additional benefits of preventive maintenance include:

Creates a Higher Degree of Safety

Meeting OSHA requirements to ensure a high degree of safety for plant workers is critical. Preventive maintenance helps to deter safety-related incidents such as pressure relief, overheating, explosions, and equipment jams.

Increases Your Equipment’s Lifespan

Establishing and rigorously following a preventive maintenance checklist for each plant asset will ensure that equipment achieves its full lifecycle.

Increases Overall Machine Productivity

Plant equipment that receives routine preventive maintenance is likely to run more efficiently in terms of performance, quality, and availability. Downtime for other forms of maintenance can be longer than for scheduled maintenance activities, so relying on preventive maintenance means more uptime and equipment availability.

Reduces Machinery Costs

Although it might seem like maintenance costs increase through regularly scheduled maintenance tasks, a preventive maintenance strategy distributes the workload for maintenance technicians over a set pattern instead of assembling and paying a team extra to perform emergency repairs. Better insights into how assets operate and perform can actually lead to a significant reduction in maintenance costs.

Uses Less Energy

With added inflation pressures on energy costs, profitability demands require that all equipment works at the highest energy efficiency levels. Equipment that is not properly maintained can have greater energy requirements to keep it cool or functioning properly.

Increases Plant Productivity

Unexpected breakdowns lead to unplanned downtime. Equipment malfunction can mean that operators sit idly by while waiting for the maintenance team to perform the needed repair.

Common Challenges with Preventive Maintenance

Seventy-six percent of Reliable Plant’s survey respondents report that they currently use preventive maintenance. Although the benefits of preventive maintenance are impressive, there are some drawbacks to consider when thinking about preventive maintenance.

It Can Be Expensive Initially

Although the long-term benefits and cost savings can be impressive, setting up a preventive maintenance system can be initially expensive. Needs have to be assessed, schedules have to be prepared, and personnel need to be trained. One way to minimize some of the initial costs is to utilize a software solution like Amper that includes self-install hardware, software, training and support in one easy price.

It Uses More Resources

The process of routinely managing, inspecting, and maintaining plant assets can require additional resources for personnel and equipment to carry out the scheduled tasks. A larger inventory of spare parts might be required to address any potential incidents. But, that may still be easier than trying to find a specific repair person with the appropriate equipment and parts at the time of a critical malfunction.

Our goal at Amper is to always make products that are both simple and actionable, which allows manufacturers to enact meaningful changes on the factory floor without relying on excess resources.

It Can Be Challenging To Manage and Organize

It can be time-consuming to assess and implement a preventive maintenance schedule. Plant personnel must be trained on how to use the equipment and how to interpret the analytics (or data). While many organizations choose to train existing employees on predictive maintenance, there are condition-monitoring contractors who specialize in performing the required labor and analyzing the results for a facility.

In addition to the training costs, predictive maintenance involves an investment in maintenance tools and systems. This cost has decreased over time with the introduction of cloud-based technology.

Using the right tools is one way to get around this. Digital tools like those offered through Amper give you the ability to track performance, improve operational efficiency, and run your factory. Machine monitoring, operational analytics, alerts, Andon communication, usage-based maintenance data, and digital tally sheets provide valuable insights and you can monitor them from a single dashboard.

It Can Be Time-Consuming When Done Well

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, but regular maintenance is not a simple proposition. It can take time to painstakingly set up and follow maintenance schedules that meet or exceed plant requirements.

Despite these challenges, it’s still better to prevent a problem before it occurs than to try to marshal resources after an incident and deal with the costs of downtime and lost productivity. Implement preventive maintenance at your plant today, to prolong equipment lifespans and maximize factory capacity.

To make it easier for clients to achieve success, the Amper Customer Success team is available throughout implementation and ongoing optimization, to include: monthly scheduled success meetings, personalized project suggestions, ongoing training for you and your team, and outstanding technical support. We also provide full access to the Amper Learning Hub, which includes:

  • Up-to-date information on the latest product features and use cases

  • Extensive implementation documentation with project planning timelines

  • Training videos for admins and operators

  • Suggestions for common CI projects

  • New product release information

What Is the Difference Between Preventative Maintenance and Corrective Maintenance?

Corrective, or reactive maintenance, is more from the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. This maintenance plan assumes that certain maintenance operations should only be performed in the event of an equipment malfunction or failure. Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, seeks to prevent, deter, or minimize equipment downtime in order to maximize productivity and cost efficiencies.

While corrective maintenance might seem like a cost-saving approach in the short term, it could lead to more costly repairs and prolonged downtime in the long run. Since it’s nearly impossible to predict equipment failure with only a reactive maintenance approach, it’s highly likely that it could occur during your busiest production time — or when maintenance teams are involved in other tasks. Given current supply chain issues, it could also mean that you may not be able to source the appropriate spare parts.

Manage Preventive Maintenance Scheduling With Amper

Preventive maintenance scheduling is a proactive way to minimize downtime and improve safety, efficiency, and productivity on your shop floor. While it may seem like a costly investment up front, a solid preventive maintenance schedule can lead to major savings over time — making it well worth the effort.

Amper’s factory operating system has an additional maintenance tool that allows you to schedule preventive maintenance more accurately with usage-based data. Our maintenance tool lets you create maintenance schedules, request maintenance tasks, keep real time maintenance logs and track status of requests with visual management boards. Schedule a demo or start a free 30-day trial to see how Amper’s solutions can optimize your manufacturing facility.

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