Proactive Maintenance: Which is better?

industrial maintenance

Maintenance in all facilities – whether it’s a power plant, a steel plant, a paper mill, cement plant, etc. – is either preventative or reactive in nature.

Many maintenance managers are reactive in that they run on a philosophy of run-to-failure, which means running a piece of equipment until the repair or replacement becomes an emergency.

Many times run-to-failure and other reactive approaches result in unnecessary downtime that hits a company’s bottom line with lost revenue due to lost production. However, there are better ways to conduct industrial maintenance, and these methods can be used by any plant or mill to reduce costs, decrease downtime, and streamline the entire process.

Two complementary methods are preventative maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Preventative Maintenance: Planned Versus Reactive Action

Preventative maintenance is a contrast to reactive maintenance. You don’t want to wait until a piece of equipment fails to react. Instead, you want to try to prevent the failure through planned downtime and repairs.

Many facilities undergo planned downtime one or more times per year. This is a time for the plant to shut down so that the maintenance team can evaluate the equipment and identify the need for repairs, replacements, or upgrades.

A large majority of the preventative maintenance performed during shutdowns is planned prior to an inspection of the equipment based on past experiences with that piece of equipment. Good record keeping is vital to plan preventative maintenance for regular outage intervals.

Predictive Maintenance: Proactive Action

Another approach is predictive maintenance, which uses analytics and data-gathering to look at trends and predict when a piece of equipment could experience failure or be in need of replacement or repair.

This is a technologically-intensive method because you need sensors and other tools to collect the data in real time plus the means to analyze the data once it is received. However, it can be ideal because you can significantly reduce downtime and increase productivity by having your equipment online for longer periods of time.

Some high-end facilities have moved to predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance complements preventative maintenance by prioritizing the preventative maintenance that is needed and extending the usefulness of equipment that still has an additional run cycle left in it. Unscheduled down time is likely to happen, but with previously obtained data and analytics, you can significantly reduce downtime and maintenance cost.

Keeping Your Facility Running

The best facilities use a combination of preventative and predictive maintenance. The goal is to be proactive rather than reactive. We don’t want to wait until something fails or forces an unplanned outage. We want to identify problems before they happen and take action before the situation gets too costly or inefficient.

If you want to reduce expenses on unexpected repairs, abandon reactive maintenance and go the route of preventative/predictive maintenance.

Southern Field provides industrial maintenance for a wide range of industries and fields. Consult with our team to discuss how we can improve your maintenance program at your facility and take care of your equipment the right way.