One of the key elements required to ensure the success of any business is their maintenance strategy. Choosing the right maintenance strategy is the difference between your organization’s equipment running smoothly or failing catastrophically. In most cases, organizations are left to decide between two premier maintenance strategies: preventive and predictive maintenance. 

Let’s start with the strategy that has been the most common for businesses for some time, preventive maintenance. This strategy has been the standard for a number of businesses throughout the manufacturing industry. The way in which is this strategy works is simple: create a maintenance schedule for each piece of equipment in an organization’s fleet. These schedules are often calendar based, meaning there are set intervals for each piece of equipment in regards to maintenance. In more special instances, organizations may need to prioritize more regular maintenance for specific pieces of equipment in their fleet. For example, older pieces of equipment that still have consistent uptime may require more regular maintenance throughout the year than a new machine running half the time. 

The alternative to this strategy, known as predictive maintenance, is much more sophisticated than its counterpart. The philosophy is much different as well. Where preventive maintenance applies a blanket approach to maintaining equipment, predictive maintenance schedules are determined based on actual data from an organization’s equipment. This is made possible through integrated systems in each piece of equipment that detail the necessary data for businesses to assess the optimal maintenance schedule for any piece of equipment. While this strategy is clearly more efficient than its preventive counterpart, it is much more expensive to implement. 

The one advantage that predictive maintenance has gathered over preventive maintenance in recent years is its ability to be implemented into an organization’s operations. As the number of technologies compatible with the Internet of Things continues to increase, the more likely that more sophisticated equipment will become compatible with these systems. Once these systems are implemented, they are able to capture, report and analyze the performance data of any piece of equipment. In addition to performance data, external data that could have some form of impact on a piece of equipment’s life span is also collected. This information allows businesses to get a much clearer indication on when equipment will require specific maintenance, leading to increases efficiency and decreased downtime for the most important pieces of equipment in an organization’s fleet. 

While it may seem that predictive maintenance is the most obvious choice between the two, this isn’t always the case. Predictive maintenance systems are excellent for ensuring equipment health, but they’re not the answer to solve any bit of unexpected downtime. With such high barriers to entry, the investment into these systems is much more risky than just opting into a preventive maintenance strategy. Not only does predictive maintenance require a large amount of investable capital, they also require highly integrated technological platforms that. This means that existing and new employees alike would have to be retained with these new systems in mind. If your business has the working capital and resources necessary to make this strategy work, then it is likely the best choice. 

For more information on both of these strategies, in addition to ways organizations can properly maintain their equipment, be sure to review the infographic coupled with this post. Courtesy of Industrial Service Solutions.