Predictive Maintenance: Reviewing this Maintenance Strategy

What you will find in this text:

  1. How does predictive maintenance work?
  2. Types of predictive maintenance
  3. Predictive maintenance in practical terms
  4. Benefits of predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a continually growing sector due to the fact that it relies on technology to provide data to predict maintenance requirements.

As technology develops, the ability to make these predictions becomes easier and cheaper, and the predictions become more accurate. The better the technology, the more beneficial and cost-effective it is for businesses. 

How does predictive maintenance work?

The idea behind predictive maintenance is to use information-gathering technology and data analysis techniques to find a problem before it occurs. Solving issues before they actually happen.

If you can pre-empt a problem, you can reduce downtime from an unexpected failure, you can increase safety levels in the workplace by replacing parts before they become dangerous and cause accidents, and you have the advanced knowledge of which parts you need to have ready and what technicians or other tradespeople you may imminently need. Predictive maintenance, if well implemented, can be a real boon to businesses, for continuity, safety and money saving.  

Types of predictive maintenance  

Predictive maintenance technologies improve constantly, and new innovations are frequently developed. Here are some of the predictive maintenance analysis types that are most often utilised. 

Vibration analysis 

For many manufacturing processes, vibration analysis can help to predict problems long before they become obvious to the naked eye or become a real issue for failure. By monitoring machine vibrations, any changes in the vibration patterns can trigger an alert which can ensure maintenance takes place for issues that could have escalated.

A simple loose screw that needs tightening is no major issue if predictive maintenance brings it to light early, but when that loose screw comes free and damages an expensive machine that has to be shut down for several hours for major repairs, then that’s a huge catastrophe that could have been avoided. Analysis of vibration can alert you to a range of issues with machinery such as alignment problems, and imbalanced machinery parts, and also highlight wear and tear issues for bearings etc. that may need imminent replacement 

Acoustic analysis 

Acoustic analysis works similarly to vibration analysis, but here it is the sound of the machine rather than the movement that is being detected and analysed. Of course, on a larger scale, we can often become familiar with the sounds machinery makes, and so we may notice when those sounds change and we are alerted to a potential problem.

The acoustic analysis does this at a level unachievable by the human ear, detecting tiny changes in machine acoustics and predicting potential friction and stress issues.  

Infrared analysis 

Infrared analysis detects changes in temperature. This can be useful across a wide range of applications. For machinery, often an increase in temperature can indicate a problem.

Many machines will become hot when they’re struggling to run correctly. On the other hand, if a machine is not running at full capacity, the standard running temperature may fall as the equipment runs more slowly. For businesses dealing in food products, chemicals or medicines that need to be kept at a particular temperature, infrared monitoring can bring forth an alert of a change in temperature and save products from becoming spoiled.  

Predictive maintenance in practical terms 

In practical terms, predictive maintenance is several systems working together. Firstly, there is the physical aspect of data gathering receptor devices. Over the last decades, such devices have become far more accessible as prices for technology fall, and advances in this field enable increasing levels of accuracy to make such systems more attractive to a wider audience.

Of course, the data gathered then needs to be processed and sense needs to be made of it, in order to discover what it actually means. The more data that has been gathered historically, the greater the level of prediction, and with the growth of gathered data via the IoT (Internet of Things), historical and environmental data can be used to make useful predictions with a high level of accuracy. This analysed data and its resulting predictions can then be passed on to a maintenance team who can initiate preventative maintenance and repairs.  

Benefits of predictive maintenance 

Being able to solve issues before they actually become a problem is invaluable to any business. The implementation costs of many predictive maintenance systems have been reduced over recent years, making the systems more desirable from a money-saving point of view. Knowing that a part is wearing out and nearing the end of its life can give you that heads-up you need to replace it before it fails.

Repairs and maintenance can be scheduled to avoid busy working hours and can massively reduce downtime. A failure that requires a shutdown can occur at any time, but with predictive maintenance you can plan for your downtime to happen when you want it to. This keeps your business running and your staff productive.  

Additionally, fixing potential problems before they happen is instrumental in reducing accidents. Part failure in machinery can easily become a safety issue, particularly when machines work at high speed. Even a small washer can cause an injury if it comes loose and is propelled from the workings at high velocity.

With predictive maintenance, a loose part can be located before it comes free and causes a problem. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine and often catching a potential problem early can drastically reduce the bills for fixing the issue compared to leaving it until it becomes an emergency.   

Predictive maintenance does require some initial investment, and it will need to be implemented correctly, but once installed, and monitoring your systems, it can certainly be of huge benefit to your business, enabling you to see into the future and prevent problems before they escalate.

When you take into account the added level of safety for your staff, the reduction in downtime for repairs and maintenance, and savings made by catching potentially large problems early before they really develop, it all adds up to a maintenance system that has a lot of merits and the potential for some very big savings both in time and money.  

Do you want to know more about Fracttal One and our SMP? Learn what our Smart Maintenance Platform can do for you.