Understanding Plant Maintenance

Operational expenses have risen steadily for manufacturers over the last several years. The pandemic, inflation, and supply chain disruptions have forged a uniquely costly business landscape for plant operators. In this environment, your manufacturing business can’t afford to have an inefficient plant maintenance strategy.

What is plant maintenance

Plant maintenance refers to the range of tasks and activities a maintenance team carries out to ensure optimal functionality and longevity of the physical assets used in an industrial setting. These physical assets include equipment, machinery, and the facilities themselves. Tasks and activities will typically include asset management, routine inspections, preventive maintenance work, predictive maintenance monitoring, and corrective maintenance.

What are the primary goals of plant maintenance?

Your plant maintenance strategy will typically be focused on several intersecting goals including: 

  • Minimizing wear and tear to keep assets in peak operating condition 
  • Preventing unplanned machine breakdowns and unplanned downtime
  • Shortening planned shutdowns by streamlining scheduled maintenance procedures
  • Maximizing the useful life cycle of equipment and machines
  • Ensuring a safe working environment 
  • Minimizing maintenance costs (i.e. labor, parts, etc.) and maximizing profitability

What types of businesses rely on plant maintenance processes

Any organization that depends on industrial equipment and manufacturing facilities to operate must establish an effective plant maintenance strategy in order to control costs, sustain productivity, and ensure safe working and environmental conditions.

The following are just a few of the business sectors that rely on effective plant maintenance:

What are the different types of plant maintenance

Most businesses deploy a combination of plant maintenance strategies. Before you decide on your ideal mix of maintenance strategies, you need to know your options. Below, we take a closer look at the most commonly deployed plant maintenance strategies in the manufacturing business. 

Reactive plant maintenance practices

With reactive maintenance, equipment maintenance is only deployed after malfunctions or failures have occurred. 

Reactive maintenance strategies typically fall into one of two categories:

  • Emergency maintenance, in which immediate action is taken to address urgent repairs–typically those threatening safety risks or a production halt–in order to restore functionality as quickly as possible 
  • Corrective maintenance, in which maintenance tasks are performed on equipment issues that have already occurred. Such tasks may include troubleshooting, replacing damaged parts, and restoring components to full working order

Preventive plant maintenance programs

Preventive plant maintenance is the most commonplace proactive maintenance model. Here, manufacturing plants deploy regularly scheduled inspections and routine maintenance in order to prevent equipment failure, maximize uptime, improve spare parts inventory management, lengthen the life of your physical assets, and mitigate excess operating costs

In fact, according to Limble’s 2024 Industry Report–The State of Maintenance in Manufacturing and Facilitiespreventive maintenance ranked as the top strategy for preventing equipment downtime among business leaders. 75% of survey respondents said preventive maintenance is their preferred approach.

Manufacturing businesses implementing preventive maintenance programs must typically take the following steps in preparation: 

  • Asset inventory: Identifying all equipment that requires maintenance and prioritizing the most critical pieces of equipment
  • Maintenance planning: Building a schedule and plan for each asset including timed increments for inspections and routine maintenance 
  • Data Collection: Gathering insights on equipment performance, maintenance history, and failure patterns in order to inform preventive maintenance planning and scheduling.

Predictive plant maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a sophisticated approach to plant maintenance that uses advanced technology and data analysis to predict when equipment is likely to fail. This allows maintenance operators to intervene with upkeep before equipment malfunctions or failures can occur. 

Predictive maintenance is facilitated by a combination of advanced condition monitoring instruments, data analytics tools, and compatible plant maintenance software platforms. 

Manufacturing operators wishing to implement predictive maintenance must therefore invest in the following critical elements: 

  • Condition monitoring sensors, which can collect real-time data on equipment performance by tracking indicators such as vibration, temperature, oil purity, and more.
  • Advanced analytics tools and algorithms, which can analyze collected data, identify patterns, and pinpoint irregularities in order to predict potential equipment failures.
  • Predictive maintenance software, which can be used to integrate data from various sources, perform predictive analytics, and generate maintenance recommendations.

Prescriptive plant maintenance

Like predictive maintenance, prescriptive maintenance relies on a combination of condition monitoring, data analytics, and integrated plant maintenance software in order to predict when equipment is likely to fail.  

However, prescriptive maintenance is designed to also help you predict how equipment is likely to fail. Prescriptive maintenance strategies allow you to identify the components, parts, or processes that are likely to fail, and to plan maintenance activities accordingly.

Manufacturing operators wishing to implement prescriptive maintenance must therefore invest in the following critical elements: 

  • Condition monitoring sensors, collecting real-time data on specified equipment performance indicators such as vibration, temperature, oil purity, and more
  • Advanced Analytics Techniques such as AI and machine learning in order to analyze vast data sets in real-time and provide prescriptive maintenance recommendations tailored to your equipment, operating conditions, and industry
  • Maintenance System Integration in order to streamline workflow and enable seamless implementation of recommended actions

Condition-based plant maintenance

Condition-based plant maintenance (CBM), such as predictive and prescriptive plant maintenance, use real-time monitoring and data to anticipate maintenance needs and catalyze proactive maintenance actions. 

Below, we take a closer look at some of the leading techniques used in condition-based maintenance: 

  • Vibration analysis in which abnormalities in equipment vibrations may be used to anticipate and prevent failures in rotating machinery such as pumps, motors, and turbines
  • Infrared thermography in which abnormal heat patterns may be used to predict overheating or faults in electrical systems, motors, and other equipment
  • Oil analysis in which lubrication samples drawn from equipment may be analyzed for contaminants or wear particles
  • Ultrasonic testing in which changes in pitch and frequency of equipment sounds may reveal leaks, bearing deterioration, and more.

Why is plant maintenance important? 

Plant maintenance is important for a variety of reasons including the protection of your physical assets, the safety of your personnel, and the productivity of your manufacturing operation.

Below, we take a closer look at both the benefits of effective plant maintenance services and the consequences of ineffective maintenance. 

The Benefits of Plant Maintenance

The following are among the key benefits of having an effective plant maintenance strategy

  • Maximized equipment reliability including optimal functionality, reduced waste, and lowered risk of unexpected breakdown 
  • Reduced downtime and consequent minimization of production losses 
  • Extended equipment lifespan thanks to routine cleaning, inspection, and maintenance delaying the need for replacement 
  • Enhanced safety because routine inspections and regularly scheduled maintenance activities can identify environmental risks before they become safety hazards.
  • Cost savings through a combination of equipment failure prevention, minimized downtime, extended asset lifespan, and more optimal resource utilization 

The consequences of ineffective plant maintenance 

Manufacturing businesses with ineffective plant maintenance strategies risk the following consequences:

  • Increased downtime which can disrupt production, lead to misallocation of labor,  and cause delays in order fulfillment
  • Higher repair costs as a result of more frequent breakdowns, emergency repairs, and total asset replacement
  • Safety risks as a result of unmonitored equipment raising the risk of workplace accidents and compliance violations

Best practices for effective plant maintenance

An effective plant maintenance strategy should find a balance between innovation and cost-control. Be sure that you take a cost-effective approach to implementation by:

  • Optimizing the allocation of resources such as time, labor, and budget;
  • Balancing your maintenance costs against the cost of equipment failure; and 
  • Identifying the right strategic mix of maintenance approaches for your operation. 

As you implement or update your plant maintenance program, consider some of these industry best practices:

  • Prioritize your most critical assets by focusing maintenance efforts on the assets and equipment that have the most significant impact on your production, safety, and reliability.
  • Adopt proactive maintenance strategies using methods such as regular inspections, condition monitoring, and predictive analytics.
  • Utilize advanced data and analytics to plan maintenance activities, optimize maintenance schedules, and allocate resources effectively.
  • Engage in continuous improvement by encouraging feedback, regularly reviewing processes, and identifying areas for optimization.
  • Implement a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) in order to build a centralized platform for organizing, scheduling, and tracking maintenance activities

CMMS solutions and plant maintenance

A growing number of manufacturing businesses are turning to CMMS software to help them adopt more proactive plant maintenance strategies. With inbuilt features like automation for maintenance planning and scheduling, asset management, work order management, advanced data analysis, and integration with other systems like ERPs and IoT devices, CMMS solutions offer a user-friendly and affordable way to streamline and enhance maintenance operations.

Request a Demo today to find out how a CMMS platform could drive your manufacturing business forward.

  • 1-Do you also serve in your CMMS system, template measurments with diagrams and photo or technical wievs ,
    such as if you measure the thicknes of a fan blade from many points periodicaly and gives comments about the future,
    and also avalibilty on mobile

    2-Do you have work permit system(for saftey side) with work orders,
    3-Deso your CMMS system has chance to cominicate with SAP- PM system

  • Hi Haluk, here goes the info you asked for:

    1. Yes, we have templates that can have diagrams of different pictures or other technical views. We also have trending that allows you to see measurements
    overtime which allows you to do all sorts of cool analysis 🙂

    Everything is available via mobile devices.

    2. Yes, our work orders are often used for the safety side of the plant operations.

    3. Yes, our system can communicate with other systems such as SAP-PM through
    our API.

    Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

Comments are closed.

Request a Demo

Share your contact details below and someone from our team will reach out as soon as possible.