February 21, 2017
Maintenance Strategies, Part Three – Predictive Maintenance
By Mac MacCormack
Predictive Maintenance, also known as Condition Based Maintenance or affectionately known as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” also has its own set of pro’s and con’s.
The pro’s: Rotating equipment usually gives warning signs before failure. Vibration level or pattern changes, rise in temperature, wear detected via oil analysis, performance change, motor current change and other indicators.
There are a number of technologies available to monitor machines for signs of problems or wear which would provide opportunity to plan the required maintenance before the risk of failure is too high. This would allow the repair to be made at a time suitable for both maintenance and production thus reducing costs and unscheduled downtime (the most expensive downtime).
Ideally, maintenance costs would be reduced, increased profits (no unscheduled downtime), no collateral damage, reduced parts inventory and planned work is the norm.
The con’s: First, all machines would need to be continually monitored and all machines need to follow a convenient pattern providing ample noticed prior to failure. Second, continuous monitoring of all equipment would be cost prohibitive and machines don’t always give as much warning as we would expect or need.
So what makes Predictive Maintenance a more cost effective maintenance strategy? Or when would you use the predictive maintenance strategy? When it is possible to determine machine condition using available technology, the machine fails over unknown amounts of time or it’s more cost effective to monitor a piece of equipment and plan repairs than to allow it to fail.
Condition monitoring is often used for machines that are not redundant, where spare parts may be unavailable or costly, where failure directly impacts production or causes collateral damage including safety. Note: insurance premiums are often lowered when a good predictive maintenance program is in place.
Now I must shamelessly promote a revolutionary means of condition monitoring/machinery diagnostics which requires no vibration analysis training. I would like to make a sales pitch here, however, I am not a salesman and would likely botch it anyway. I personally believe most if not every industrial environment should have this in their tool box.
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