While many people have a tendency to use the terms “predictive maintenance” and preventative maintenance” interchangeably, the fact is they are not the same. It can get even more confusing when the term “TPM” is thrown into the equation. These initials stand for “total productive maintenance” which is a bit different than either predictive or preventative maintenance.
Predictive maintenance deals with the ability to predict when maintenance is needed on a machine in advance of a breakdown. It requires the investment of time for data collection by someone who is trained in what data is important and knows how to collect and interpret it. In a nutshell, it establishes a baseline for the important indicators on each piece of equipment and compares subsequent readings with the baseline. The key is to identify change. The amount of change can then tell you when the right time is to take the equipment out of service for maintenance.
One of the things that makes predictive maintenance so valuable is its potential to eliminate unplanned down time. While fixing the equipment requires removing it from production whenever the job is done, being able to plan it avoids disruptions in the manufacturing schedule and aids in making the most productive use of people’s time.
Vibration analysis is frequently an important predictive maintenance measure. It can tell you when something like a bearing is going bad. When the vibration reaches a predetermined reading, it is time to schedule a replacement. As the program continues over time, you will be able to predict failures with even more accuracy. Keeping data on when something actually failed will enable you to be more precise in your predictions. That way you don’t wait until the machine breaks down to react while, at the same time, you don’t schedule a component replacement too soon and waste time and money.
Oil analysis is also valuable when doing predictive maintenance. This involves not only looking at signs that the oil is breaking down or changing viscosity, but the presence of solids in the oil means something is wearing out.
Infrared technology can help to detect heat buildup, another indicator that something is going wrong. Worn parts create more friction which in turn generates more heat.
If you operate a business that could benefit from a predictive maintenance service, there are resources like Predictive Service that can provide training and analytical equipment to get you started.