Equipment Maintenance Strategy Options

How organizations manage equipment maintenance can greatly impact their overall productive capacity. Determining when a machine gets taken offline for regular service comes down to a decision between the potential for loss of production time and a potential breakdown.

Strategies for maintenance management usually derive from one of three options. Each of them have pluses and minuses and which one fits best depends on each organization’s priorities for their business. The three options are reactive maintenance, preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Reactive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance is a strategy based on reacting to events after the fact. In this case, that includes repairing parts or equipment only after a breakdown or failure has happened.

Reactive maintenance can be attractive because the time & production risk inherent in other maintenance strategies are avoided. Instead, the machine or equipment achieves maximum utilization and output for as long as it stays operating.

The downside to this strategy is when the breakdown or failure occurs and production and output are directly impacted. Until the equipment is repaired or replaced, it is dead in the water. That can be a large financial investment for the business; especially if replacement is required because not maintaining the equipment regularly eliminated any chance of repair.

Another common issue with reactive maintenance is the company, striving to keep the equipment operating as much as possible, may limit their maintenance team to small repairs or “symptoms” that may be linked to a larger problem that is being ignored or is unknown to the company.

That can lead to much bigger issues, not just with the equipment, but with the health and safety of the maintenance team or other employees. A serious incident like that could put the company itself at risk.

Learn how Prosit’s Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) services can help your company increase production, boost employee morale and reduce costs.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a strategy based on performing a set of routine maintenance tasks while the equipment is under normal operation. This is done in stages; one part of equipment is disabled so maintenance can be done without stopping the whole production capacity.

The benefit of this approach is avoiding unexpected breakdowns and the associated downtime and costs. Unlike reactive maintenance, the company does not wait until the equipment fails to act with the goal of extending the life of the equipment, increasing productivity and keeping equipment maintenance cost effective.

However, there are downsides with preventive maintenance as well. The foundation of the strategy is theoretical rather than realistic. In other words, estimates based on past history are used to guide the maintenance schedule and procedures and those estimates may not be accurate or reliable. The actual data of the equipment’s performance may tell a different story that is being missed by the equipment maintenance team, people on the line or management.

Parts may be replaced that still have useful lifespan or there can be cycles where nothing is found to be repaired or replaced i.e. the maintenance team is doing non-value add work that takes them away from other important maintenance issues.

It can be hard to justify why preventive maintenance is the best strategy when it requires greater planned downtime, for seemingly perfect machines to be taken offline and operations to be disrupted, requiring complicated parts and inventory management.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a strategy based on using software that leverages data and predictive analytics to estimate when equipment may fail and trigger the scheduling of corrective equipment maintenance before the point of failure.

The goal is to schedule equipment maintenance at the most cost effective and convenient time, allowing the equipment’s lifespan to be optimized to its fullest, but before the equipment has been compromised and production impacted.

In essence, it is a combination of the benefits of reactive and preventive maintenance without the downsides, providing other benefits including:

  • minimizing unanticipated breakdowns
  • maximizing equipment uptime and reliability
  • reducing operational costs by performing only necessary maintenance
  • maximizing production hours
  • improving safety
  • modernizing management of inventory

The downside of predictive maintenance is the upfront costs for the software and sensors to be used on the equipment as part of the integrated process along with training of personnel to manage the process.

Given the alternatives of preventive and reactive maintenance, however, these investments may be worthwhile. For companies organized to utilize technology like this, these investments offer the most comprehensive way to achieve production goals without sacrificing quality or safety and for keeping costs in line.

Please contact us for assistance in developing optimized strategies for equipment maintenance in your enterprise.

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