Guest post written by Taylor Short
Most maintenance departments have used the same preventive methods for decades. There’s good reason for this: scheduling repairs and check-ups on critical assets based on historical data is an efficient way to keep machinery running as long as possible.
Today’s technology, however, is pushing even more proactive methods forward with predictive maintenance capabilities. Instead of scheduling work-based on educated guesses, professionals now have the means to draw data directly from assets to gauge their true condition.Real-time condition monitoring with PdM allows a CMMS to alert workers about potential failureClick To Tweet
Real-time condition monitoring with predictive maintenance allows a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to alert workers when an asset indicates a potential failure. In turn, this helps managers reduce costly downtime and free up labor hours more than ever before. When comparing preventive vs. predictive maintenance, it’s important to understand the key benefits to each approach to make the right decision for the needs of your business.
Now, let’s take a closer look at predictive maintenance.
How Does Predictive Maintenance Work?
A CMMS with predictive maintenance capabilities allows maintenance departments to use sensor devices mounted on machines. Among other conditions, these sensors can monitor:
Those sensors stream constant data into the CMMS and present it in a graphical format, showing asset conditions over time. Managers can establish condition thresholds for machines: A range between 200 and 600 PSI for a particular machine might be considered normal operating pressure, for example.Predictive isn’t expected to replace preventive; rather, supplement existing maintenance programClick To Tweet
Once the sensors indicate the condition exceeds the upper threshold, the CMMS automatically creates a work order to check that machine. This is beneficial in two ways:
- Because the machine itself is telling you when it needs repairs, the frequency of unplanned downtime is minimized.
- Since you’re only repairing equipment when it shows signs of failure, extra preventive maintenance tasks you thought you needed are eliminated—freeing up labor for other work.
Instead of using sensors, maintenance workers can also use hand-held multimeters or perform occasional spot checks, then enter condition data manually. Predictive isn’t expected to replace preventive maintenance; rather, it should supplement your existing maintenance program.
For more specific examples, let’s review some of the benefits of predictive maintenance over traditional methods—then see how these systems are expected to evolve.
Minimizing Downtime Through Predictive Maintenance
Machine downtime halts operations and stifles profits. Whether you manage the maintenance of equipment in a manufacturing plant or a hospital, the entire organization relies on its assets to keep working. That’s where predictive maintenance comes in: It utilizes smarter scheduling to reduce downtime.
Here’s a simple example, using a common AC motor, to illustrate this benefit:
- With preventive maintenance, a maintenance professional uses past repair knowledge about the asset to determine that it’s most likely to fail after 1,000 hours of operation. A preventive maintenance task is created on a calendar or in the CMMS to check on the motor just before that 1,000-hour mark.
- Using predictive maintenance, condition monitoring methods, such as an asset-mounted sensor or manual entry, stream data into the CMMS. Once the machine shows condition readings beyond normal, the system automatically generates a work order.
In the second example, the maintenance manager can save labor costs by watching asset conditions and scheduling work based on actual data, instead of based on dates.
Smart-Building Analytics Optimize Asset Use, Reduce Maintenance Needs
While predictive maintenance uses real-time condition monitoring data to help prevent failures, smart building technology uses data from various sources to adjust its systems for optimal use of assets.
For example, a smart building could have connections between its building automation system (BAS), a CMMS or facilities management system and control systems on assets such as HVAC units and lighting. These connections would be used by the BAS to control temperature and lighting based on how many occupants are inside, or on a predetermined occupant schedule.
With advanced analytics capabilities, a BAS can also take environmental factors into account when controlling assets. In areas that experience radical temperature shifts, the BAS could factor in current weather as well as utility rates by using data gathered from the Internet and utility providers. Using this information, the building can adjust the temperature and other systems to maintain optimal comfort levels for occupants at the most economical price.
With smart building systems optimizing the use of assets, machines aren’t used unnecessarily. In turn, less maintenance is needed to keep them running—saving time and money.
How the Internet of Things Could Impact Maintenance Management
Taking the idea of smart buildings even further, we enter the realm of the Internet of Things. Essentially, the IoT promises hyperconnectivity. In a business sense, IoT promises to connect every asset in an organization, so machines and software systems can interact with each other and be manipulated remotely.
On a larger scale, the IoT could even integrate an entire “smart city” to enhance the quality of urban services: for example, traffic lights and digital signs or energy use.
As mentioned, smart buildings operate on this same idea, allowing a system to account for multiple sources of data to make more informed decisions. Smart buildings exist today and demonstrate the benefits of the IoT on a smaller scale.
A handful of cities, including Amsterdam, Stockholm and Barcelona, have projects underway to implement more and more smart technology. As these technologies expand to new locations, energy consumption and maintenance costs are expected to decrease.
Maintenance departments should consider supplementing their existing preventive maintenance processes with predictive maintenance methods. A combination of both is the best way to keep critical machines running. This allows maintenance to be performed proactively, based on actual condition information.
About Taylor Short
Taylor Short joined Software Advice as a CMMS Market Research Associate in 2013. He previously worked as a reporter and writer for six years, focusing on local coverage of city governments, businesses, schools, and police. He has worked for newspapers in North and Central Texas. You can email Taylor here.