PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE: ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

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If you have reached this entry is because you surely want to know what are the predictive maintenance advantages and disadvantages. Implementing predictive maintenance in a company is something that many maintenance managers want. However, this type of maintenance involves some technical tasks to be performed.

What is predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance is the maintenance that helps to predict the condition of a machine; without making a direct intervention on it. The purpose of this maintenance is to be able to intervene the machine or asset at the moment just before it fails.

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In many industrial companies, in order not to lose production time, processes are designed to have standby machines; this is done so that if one machine fails, it can be replaced immediately.

However, there are certain types of machines in these processes, which due to their high cost, cannot be replaced immediately. Therefore, these machines or assets could be called critical assets; and it is to these assets that predictive maintenance techniques must be applied.

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Predictive maintenance techniques

There are various techniques applied in predictive maintenance. The technique used depends on the type or function of the machine. Among the most common techniques are vibration analysis, thermography, tribology, ultrasound and circuit analysis.

A clear example of predictive maintenance could be the analysis of used oil from an engine or a transmission box of a vehicle; in it, internal wear elements, filtration conditions and lubricant conditions can be highlighted; without having to make a large intervention inside the engine or transmission.

predictive maintenance

In electric motors, vibration tests are done to know the state of the bearings; and sometimes thermographies are done to find the areas where there are higher temperatures.

Advantages of predictive maintenance

These are some of the most relevant advantages of predictive maintenance:

  • Savings in spare parts costs: With the techniques of predictive maintenance, a more thorough follow-up of the spare parts in the machines is made. Unlike preventive maintenance, in which parts must be changed within a certain period of time, predictive maintenance seeks to make the change at the right time that the machine will need it. This generates in the long term, a considerable saving in spare parts.
  • Increased reliability: The instruments used in predictive maintenance, provide great information about the condition of the machines that are measured through them. In addition, the personnel who use them, due to their training, can interpret accurately and help in making decisions regarding the time to intervene some element.
  • Reduced maintenance times: It considerably reduces maintenance times, because only the parts that need to be changed are changed. Therefore, it improves the availability of the machines, increasing the production and decreasing the maintenance costs.
  • Lower maintenance costs: By following up more specifically on the equipment, the corrective maintenance of these is considerably reduced. Consequently, the maintenance costs referring to urgent works decrease, being these the most expensive in the maintenance management.
  • Less human resources: Unlike corrective and preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance requires less staff. This type of maintenance, in the long run, reduces urgent works and substantially modifies preventive maintenance, making less plant maintenance technicians necessary.

Disadvantages of predictive maintenance

Although the advantages that predictive maintenance has are great, in this type of maintenance we can find some disadvantages and inconveniences:

  • Requires a high initial investment: The equipment used in predictive maintenance is special equipment, which in many cases has a high cost, which means that an initial investment must be made.
  • It requires training: The implementation of predictive maintenance; can only be given once a team of people have been chosen to form the predictive department. It is necessary to train this team of people very well in the handling of equipment and in the interpretation of results. This staff must have a high commitment to the company, because if they leave, it will be very difficult to find qualified staff or it will be expensive to train new staff.
  • It cannot be applied to all companies: In many companies it cannot be applied simply because there is no real commitment to the state of the machines. To implement predictive maintenance in a company, the time, scope and cooperation of the different areas of the company must be agreed upon, including top management. In some companies, because of the high cost, they prefer to contract with an external supplier, certain analysis to certain machines or critical equipment.

Considerations

Predictive maintenance allows us to intervene in the right moment the elements that have to be changed in a machine; which generates savings compared to preventive maintenance which is handled through established frequencies.

To be able to establish a predictive maintenance plan in a company; requires an initial investment in the equipment and the training of the personnel that will use it. It also requires strict monitoring and interpretation of results to take action quickly.

The results of the implementation of a predictive maintenance plan will be reflected in the availability of critical equipment. In addition to these results, there will be a high impact on production and maintenance costs.

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