Predictive Maintenance:
Definition, Types, Benefits

In the past, humans would have to identify and diagnose issues with equipment themselves. They would also have to guess when to schedule equipment maintenance. Needless to say, this was far from the most effective system.

Now, modern technology allows companies to use predictive maintenance to resolve issues before they happen. This can benefit businesses over the long run in many different ways.

But what exactly is predictive maintenance, and how does it work?

Keep reading to learn all about predictive maintenance, as well as why investing in it is such a smart idea.

Predictive Maintenance Definition

Predictive maintenance or condition-based maintenance is a strategy that involves monitoring an asset’s performance in real-time to predict exactly when it’s going to break down or start to have problems.

To make these predictions, predictive maintenance relies on several different tools. These include:

  • Sensors
  • Machine Learning
  • Data Analytics
  • Internet of Things
  • Modeling

All of these tools work with one another to identify warning signs that signal that failure is around the corner. You can then schedule maintenance at a necessary and effective time, as opposed to having to guess when to do it.

Predictive Maintenance vs. Preventative Maintenance

Many people confuse predictive maintenance with preventative maintenance. Although they are both proactive types of maintenance that have similar goals, they go about accomplishing those goals in different ways.

Whereas predictive maintenance uses tools to identify when you need to act to prevent equipment failure, preventative maintenance relies on time. For example, you may need to inspect a piece of equipment every week, month, or year.

In other cases, you may need to perform preventative maintenance after a certain amount of usage. The specifications depend on the equipment you’re using, but it might mean inspecting something after 100 hours of usage, or 1,000 miles of usage.

Types of Predictive Maintenance

There are several different types of predictive maintenance technologies that companies use. Here are a few of the most common:

Infrared Technology

When used for predictive maintenance, infrared technology allows companies to regularly check the temperature of a piece of equipment. This allows you to ensure that it’s operating as it should be.

It also provides you with the ability to find and identify problematic areas in pieces of equipment. With regards to electronics, this might mean a fuse that is about to blow or an electric circuit that is starting to experience problems.

Acoustic Monitoring

This involves using systems that listen for problems in pieces of equipment. In a way, acoustic monitoring functions like more advanced versions of the ears of trained workers.

As is the case with human ears, one of the pitfalls of acoustic monitoring is that background noise can affect the system’s ability to hear problems. As people often use acoustic monitoring in industrial environments, background noise is common.

Motor Circuit Analysis

Motor circuit analysis involves measuring the rotor and stator of a motor. Companies use it to test how new motors will perform before they install them, as well as how current motors are performing.

Companies across many different types of industries rely on motor circuit analysis. Of course, the automotive and marine industries use them the most.

Oil Analysis

As its name implies, oil analysis is where a company tests the oil of a machine to see how it’s performing. When testing it, they’ll look at factors like wear particles, viscosity, and how much water there is.

The more frequently a company interacts with oil, the more they’ll benefit from oil analysis. The bus, truck, and train industries are some of the industries that use it the most.

Vibration Analysis

Vibration analysis is where equipment looks for vibration patterns in machinery that deviate from the normal frequencies. In order to be more accurate, vibration analysis often records vibrations multiple times.

If you want to learn more about vibration analysis and other types of predictive maintenance, discover more here.

Benefits of Predictive Maintenance

As alluded to, there are a ton of benefits that companies across different industries get out of predictive maintenance. Here are some of the biggest:

Correct Allocation of Funds

In traditional maintenance models, companies often waste time and money by having to guess when a piece of equipment needs replacement or maintenance. The same is true with preventative maintenance.

Other the other hand, predictive maintenance eliminates the need to guess altogether. You know exactly when it’s time to repair something.

Reliable Productivity

When you no longer have to worry about random equipment failure or surprise malfunctions, you’ll find that your overall productivity increases.

You won’t have to worry about having to waste time bringing a piece of equipment back to normal.

Longer Lifespan of Equipment

Predictive maintenance provides you with one of the easiest ways to maximize the lifespan of your equipment. Although you can resolve problems as they occur, it does tend to shorten equipment lifespan.

Predictive maintenance keeps problems from happening before they occur.

Increased Revenue

While you might have to invest some money upfront to get predictive maintenance systems up and running, the cost will pay off in the long run.

The security net that predictive maintenance systems provide your equipment helps you save money. It also gives you peace of mind.

Invest in the Future of Your Business

Although predictive maintenance might require you to pay some implementation costs upfront, it’s worth it in the end. As this guide explains, predictive maintenance comes with a ton of benefits that can help improve your company.