The need for maintenance arises from the automation of production since the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century. Since then, the technological development of humanity has grown exponentially to the point that almost all processes are automated; vital processes for the sustenance of the population. In this way, the need arises to maintain industrial equipment to maintain production. Among these, we find predictive maintenance, which is a derivative of preventive maintenance. To get into context a bit, and before developing predictive maintenance along with its advantages and disadvantages, we must define some of the main types of maintenance.
Preventive maintenance is a series of tasks based on a period of operating time. That is, maintenance tasks are based on the active hours of a machine. Some preventive maintenance programs are limited and only consist of lubrication and minor adjustments. On the other hand, more consistent and elaborate programs include lubrication, periodic repair programs, adjustments, and machine rebuilds for the most important equipment. As we can see, the common denominator of these preventive maintenance strategies is the creation of time-based plans.
Corrective maintenance is performed when equipment, machinery, or part of the infrastructure breaks down. Consequently, we must repair it to include it again in the company’s production cycle. That is, to make it work again and continue with routine operations. Naturally, it cannot be planned in detail, since modifications are only made when strictly necessary.
The definition of predictive maintenance can vary according to certain conditions and depending on each specialized technician who is asked. For example, some define it as the monitoring of vibrations of rotating machines in an attempt to detect emerging problems. Thus, avoiding future catastrophes. On the other hand, there are those who define it as the infrared image monitoring of electrical components, motors, and other electronic equipment.
So, the common factor that we can highlight from predictive maintenance is regular monitoring. Among these, of the mechanical conditions, the effectiveness of operations, and other condition indicators of equipment and process operations. So, the purpose of this monitoring is to find any signs or symptoms of failure. Thus, the specialized technician analyzes the data obtained and can predict how and approximately when the fault may occur. To achieve this, the predictive maintenance strategy makes use of different measurement tools and techniques. For example:
– Vibration analysis,
– Thermographic measurements,
– Ultrasound analysis.
However, we must emphasize that predictive maintenance goes beyond a series of vibration measurements, thermographs, and ultrasonic analysis. This strategy means establishing improvements in the productive sector. Thus, it improves the quality of the finished products and the efficiency of the workforce. So, we can define predictive maintenance as a work philosophy. Which uses the current conditions of the machines and systems to optimize the entire operations plan.
Advantages and disadvantages of predictive maintenance
As we have seen, predictive maintenance is more than a series of measurements, it is a complete way of managing a company to obtain the best possible results. Thus, we will see some of its greatest advantages:
Advantages of predictive maintenance
Savings in spare parts costs: with predictive maintenance techniques we can track the spare parts destined for certain machines. It differs from preventive maintenance because in the latter the spare parts are changed from time to time. On the other hand, in predictive maintenance changes are made at the right time. That is when the machine requires it. In this way, considerable savings are ensured in spare parts that are not very necessary. To achieve this condition, knowledge of devices is very important. For example, in the case of using the Dewalt 3400 PSI Pressure Washer, every operator is required to master the manual for the tool.
Greater reliability: the instruments applied for predictive maintenance are of high quality and fidelity. By this, we will obtain great information about the status of the measuring machines. In addition, qualified personnel can easily and accurately interpret the data. Thus, they can help make decisions regarding the time to invest in some element.
Lower maintenance costs: by doing specific monitoring of the equipment, we considerably reduce corrective maintenance towards them. Consequently, maintenance costs for rush jobs are significantly reduced. Usually, last-minute repairs are the most expensive.
Reduced maintenance time: Maintenance times are greatly reduced because only the right parts are changed.
Reduced human resources: Unlike corrective and preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance requires fewer active personnel. This strategy reduces rush jobs and modifies preventive maintenance. It does this by reducing the need for more maintenance technicians in the company.
Disadvantages of predictive maintenance
The number and effectiveness of the benefits of predictive maintenance are undeniable. However, like any other strategy, it has a series of disadvantages that are worth taking into account:
It requires a high initial investment: the equipment used in predictive maintenance is made of special materials to obtain accurate measurements. Therefore, the use of these measurement tools means a high initial cost.
Requires qualified personnel: the application of this strategy requires qualified personnel to collect and analyze the data. Similarly, it is necessary to invest in the training of our regular staff so that in the future they have the necessary skills to carry out maintenance routines.
It does not apply to all companies: each company has a particular approach. Therefore, much predictive maintenance cannot be applied. To apply this maintenance strategy, the times, scope, and cooperation between different areas within the company must be correctly agreed upon. This includes management. Therefore, some companies choose to hire external analysts to perform predictive maintenance routines on certain machines or processes.
In summary, we study the advantages and disadvantages of predictive maintenance, which is essential to know if we want to start with this strategy. Similarly, we must highlight the importance of thoroughly studying other maintenance strategies. Thus, we can implement more than one strategy at the same time and, in this way, get the most out of it for our company.