Five benefits of an effective predictive maintenance plan

An effective predictive maintenance plan can help manufacturers reduce downtime and supply chain issues while improving machine efficiency and the life of their assets.

By Bryan Christiansen January 17, 2023
Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

Predictive maintenance insights

  • Predictive maintenance aims to understand machines so maintenance issues can be resolved before they occur by using sensors that detect process data to help engineers make better decisions.
  • Benefits of an effective predictive maintenance program include reduced downtime and fewer supply chain issues while also improving a machine’s lifecycle.

Predictive maintenance plans are becoming more common in manufacturing. As such, businesses are discovering more about the benefits associated with a functional program. These potential benefits include reduced downtime, better machine efficiency, asset lifetime extension, supply chain easing, and staffing improvements – all leading to cost savings.

Predictive maintenance aims to understand machines so maintenance issues can be resolved before they occur. This is accomplished through the use of sensors detecting key process data. The information is then fed into a software package that can analyze data and help users by displaying issues and even predicting them before they occur.

The move from a traditional maintenance model to a predictive program may seem daunting, but the benefits can be enormous for a manufacturer. For example, a report by CXP found predictive maintenance could reduce costs by up to 40%. An effective predictive maintenance plan can help manufacturers in five specific ways.

1. Downtime reduction

One rather easily understood benefit of a predictive maintenance program is the reduction of downtime. When the operation has a better handle on when equipment might break down, it can make better plans to address the problem.

A PWC report found 60% of operations with predictive maintenance programs realized uptime increases of 9% on average. As we all know, downtime can be extremely costly to the bottom line. Any unplanned downtime means the product is not being made – at best, sales are delayed. Downtime also causes a cascade effect, delaying the next production run and so on.

When a predictive maintenance program is in place, these unplanned downtime events are reduced. Failures are better known before they occur, and the production schedule can be more easily adjusted to fit critical maintenance activities.

2. Improved machine efficiency

When a predictive maintenance plan is in place, equipment health is easily measured and displayed to the staff. This allows a rapid and deep understanding of the equipment situation.

Maintenance professionals know machines run better when they are properly maintained. Predictive maintenance plans help the business quickly know which machines need attention.

In which scenario does a motor run more efficiently? When it is properly lubed and aligned, or when it has a vibration alarm and a misaligned shaft?

3. Asset lifetime extension

Predictive maintenance plans also are proven to extend the life of existing assets. When each issue is taken care of from a condition standpoint, catastrophic failures become rare. This means the machine runs smoother and more efficiently. In turn, the life of the machine is extended. This leads to a more effective use of assets and funds – less money replacing equipment, and more money spent on improvements.

As experienced maintenance managers know, equipment kept in good condition saves them from many headaches. It runs better, is less likely to break down, and stays off the list of emergencies.

4. Supply chain pressure

In the current manufacturing environment, there is perhaps no bigger problem than the supply chain. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global supply chain, it has been extremely difficult to manage supplies. Often there is simply no visibility on materials – whether they are available, where they are, timelines, etc.

In this environment, we want to gain any advantage possible in the supply chain. Thus, when surprise breakdowns are reduced, there is much less scrambling for spare repair parts. The logistics team already has enough on their plates – they surely appreciate fewer rush orders to track down.

5. Better use of staff

Another huge problem in manufacturing today is staffing. It can be extremely difficult to attract and retain talented workers. Manufacturing businesses must stretch their people more than ever.

Predictive maintenance activities move from schedule-based (or simply reactive) to condition-based. Instead of simply performing tasks because of an arbitrary date, they are performed because the machine is showing signs of wear.

For example, bearings in a motor can be greased as soon as vibration or excess heat is detected.

This type of maintenance is almost always a more effective use of assets. People are put to use where they are needed most. Maintenance staff is more effectively prioritized, and it is likely they are happier knowing so.

Effective predictive maintenance plan benefits

An effective predictive maintenance plan brings many benefits to a manufacturing business. These include downtime reduction, improved efficiency, an extension of asset life, assistance to the supply chain, and a more effective use of staff. All of these benefits save money for the business.

Though the implementation of a predictive maintenance plan might seem difficult, the payoff is worth the effort. The program does not need to be massive in scope to begin with – start with a pilot on a critical line and expand from there. Soon enough, the plan can be expanded across the business.

Author Bio: Founder and CEO at Limble CMMS.