Predictive or Preventive Maintenance: Which One is Right for You?

The most cost-effective maintenance strategies emphasize a proactive approach. But when weighing the numerous approaches such as predictive vs preventive maintenance, how do you know which is right for you?  

Many organizations share the same goals of improving reliability of assets and reduce the likelihood of machine failure. But not all organizations can take the same approach to get there. Here is how to find the right approach for you.

Preventive vs Predictive Maintenance

The main difference between preventive and predictive maintenance is how maintenance work is triggered and scheduled. Preventive maintenance is scheduled regularly based on triggers like time and usage, while predictive maintenance is scheduled based on machine data that measures the asset’s condition.

When crafting a preventive maintenance schedule (also called preventative maintenance schedule), maintenance managers need to access industry averages, check the recommendations from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and know the best practices.

On the other hand, maintenance managers putting together a predictive maintenance program tend to use an asset’s actual utilization and current conditions to decide when to perform maintenance.

What is Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is performed on assets at regular intervals for the purpose of ensuring performance and preventing breakdowns. With regular checks, the maintenance team has the chance to change parts, and make adjustments before any sign of malfunction appears.

This proactive maintenance strategy helps companies avoid equipment failure and downtime while extending an asset’s lifespan. 

Requirements for a successful preventive maintenance program

In order to perform preventive maintenance, managers must outline maintenance schedules, intervals, and triggers ahead of time and plan resources accordingly.  For this reason, there is some up front time investment that teams must make to get a program up and running. 

In addition, teams typically require tools or software like a modern CMMS to streamline tracking, documentation, and coordination of preventive maintenance work.  These systems can be fairly low investment, but provide a big benefits to the efficiency and success of preventive maintenance programs. 

If your team has the bandwidth to build a preventive maintenance plan for all or even a portion of your most critical assets, you are likely ready to implement a PM program.

How to Implement a Preventive Maintenance Program

Implementing a customized preventive maintenance program might be one of the best long-term investments you can make. Aside from the money saved on corrective maintenance, your maintenance team will face fewer moments of crisis.

To implement PM at your organization, you will need to follow a few critical steps: 

  • Identify critical assets to include in your PM program 
  • Gather crucial data about asset performance
  • Schedule maintenance tasks
  • Assign technicians
  • Monitor progress in real-time and improve, as needed

Using a CMMS to manage and coordinate your PM activities will make the build process easier and tracking more efficient. They can even automate preventive maintenance scheduling and other tasks which makes them a useful tool to have in your toolkit before beginning.

The Essential Guide to CMMS

Download this helpful guide to everything a CMMS has to offer.

What is Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance or PdM uses condition-monitoring techniques and tools to track the performance of machines to detect possible defects that could lead to failure, and fix them before assets break down.

A predictive maintenance strategy’s goal is to use asset data to predict when a failure may occur by catching asset malfunctions as early as possible. This helps avoid the need for bigger maintenance activities or lengthy and costly downtime.

One of the main advantages of predictive maintenance versus preventive maintenance is that with PdM, maintenance is only performed on machines when it is necessary. This decreases the chance of unnecessary maintenance and as a result, also reduces the use of spare parts and supplies, time spent on each piece of equipment, and production hours lost to planned downtime.

Predictive maintenance programs have been shown to lead to a ten-fold increase in ROI and a nearly 30% reduction in maintenance costs — not to mention the indirect cost savings related to reduced downtime.

Requirements for a successful predictive maintenance program

Because predictive maintenance requires the use of large amounts of equipment data, your organization must be prepared to collect, store, and analyze it. A CMMS software or EAM software will make this process streamlined and manageable. 

Predictive maintenance also requires the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors connected to your CMMS or EAP to track the true utilization of an asset. IoT sensors send out signals to the maintenance software so facility managers always have the most up-to-date asset utilization data easily accessible.

In addition, your team will also need the skills and expertise to use machine data to make predictive algorithms. If your team is not equipped with these foundational skills and resources, beginning with a preventive maintenance program may be a better starting place, depending on your organization’s goals.

How to Implement a Predictive Maintenance Program

Just like preventive maintenance, a predictive maintenance program can save your maintenance team from endless work orders and high costs. However, implementing a predictive maintenance strategy is slightly more complex than executing preventive maintenance.

Typically, you can begin a PdM program in one of two ways. First, you can set up your CMMS software to automatically produce an alert or generate a work order whenever the system detects that an asset is operating outside predefined conditions and parameters. 

Alternatively, you can use algorithms to take multiple data readings into consideration to trigger maintenance notifications. 

With these alerts, your maintenance team will know it’s time to take action. The team can also use the CMMS software to verify data about the asset, which helps them to judge what type of work needs to be done.

Ready to Implement a Proactive Maintenance Strategy?

Anticipation is always the best way to go about asset management. Reactive maintenance is expensive, breaks the operations workflow, and increases the risk for your technicians.

While preventive maintenance is easier and cheaper to implement, predictive maintenance reduces the amount of downtime to the minimum possible and requires less manual labor. But it requires more investment and infrastructure to get started. 

Ideally, your asset management strategy would include both techniques because they work better when implemented together. And the control you get with a CMMS will ensure that you squeeze every last drop of value from your carefully structured program.

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