What is proactive maintenance?

Maintenance professionals are under pressure:

Management wants to save money, Production wants to make money and Maintenance are expected to play ball in keeping everyone, even the machines happy.

Maintenance is a necessary expense to ensure an asset has a long, healthy, working life. If production must continue without stopping so that sales can deliver as planned, then maintenance is unavoidable and ongoing. However, it is also a positive and controllable expense.

Maintenance costs can only be saved by applying Proactive and Precision maintenance continuously. This is achieved by strong initial design and construction, experienced maintenance management running Proactive, Precision maintenance programs, using skilled Proactive Maintenance personnel and focussing on the details. This means a higher upfront cost, but it is followed by lower corrective maintenance costs, lower operation costs and less lost profit from downtime. Cuts on maintenance expenditure should be avoided, as it results in reduced life of an asset, unreliable performance and increased costs of production.

Think of Proactive Maintenance as seeing a 3-dimensional view of your machine’s health and performance, over time, as opposed to seeing a 2-dimensional view of your machine’s problems, right now. Proactive Maintenance concentrates on the root causes of potential failures, instead of the symptoms of existing machine wear. This means that problems can be anticipated before they’ve even begun!

Proactive Maintenance is a two step system: 1) data collection and 2) trending. 1) using precise condition monitoring to build a detailed history of data that records the performance of an asset. 2) using this information to calculate how to avoid failure, and if necessary, when predictive maintenance, preventative maintenance or a full shutdown should be scheduled for. This is called trending.

By creating a deeper, continuous insight into real machine conditions, and using this to make maintenance decisions, corrective actions are aimed at the sources of failure, extending the life and efficiency of the equipment. Common Maintenance strategies used to combat machine wear, tear and damage are based on either:

1) accommodating failure as routine and normal (no maintenance)

2) reacting to a crisis with emergency repairs to the breakdown (corrective / reactive maintenance),

3) regular routine maintenance according to a schedule rather than to the machine’s true condition. This often means making repairs when nothing is broken (preventive maintenance) or,

4) detecting the warning signs of failure once they’ve already begun and reacting to prevent a crisis (predictive maintenance).

The costs involved in these methods are often accepted by asset or reliability managers and engineers as inevitable ‘maintenance costs’. They don’t have to be accepted.

Proactive Maintenance differs from these methods because it has a feedback mechanism, looping the information back into the maintenance system to affect the outcome – an outcome of no failure. In this way unscheduled breakdowns are completely ruled out. With decreased downtime, reliability and operational uptime increase and so the costs to begin a Proactive Maintenance program are quickly absorbed in maintenance cost savings.