In the world industrial maintenance there is no time for “down time.” Any time a plant has to halt production to perform maintenance or repairs, it means less product will be produced. This ultimately means lost revenue.
Businesses are always looking for cost-cutting solutions and for better ways to prevent losses and meet goals. But when you are the maintenance manager and in charge of making sure that your machinery runs smoothly and without any surprises, cost-cutting is not an easy measure to contend with. You know you cannot properly repair a machine without the right personnel, parts and equipment. And when you do get a window to perform maintenance and repairs you need to make sure your efforts count.
Most companies have some sort of a maintenance program. The problem is it might not be a program which actually benefits the plant. There are three major types of programs, each with its own benefits if it is set up under the correct conditions.
1) Breakdown (Reactive)
The name pretty much says it all: fix it when it breaks. This might be acceptable if there were standby units to eliminate production losses. However, if standby units are not an option, this can lead to costly chaos. Either way, repair costs and stress levels are usually much higher.
2) Preventive (PM)
This program is usually time-based and consists of visual inspection and maintenance performed to further the life of components (lubrication, alignment, etc). Unless a problem is identified during inspection, it will go unnoticed and can ultimately lead to catastrophic failure, again creating high repair costs and stress levels. Another aspect of a PM program is repair based on an estimated life of a machine or an individual component. If the history indicates a bearing failure every 12 months on average, a PM program dictates replacing the bearings at 9-10 months to avoid failure. However, without knowing the actual condition, you might be removing bearings with significant operating time remaining. To make matters worse, a faulty part or repair could leave you with a machine having less operating life than before the repair. And unfortunately, preventive maintenance has not identified and addressed the underlying problem of why the premature failures are occurring.
3) Predictive (PDM)
This program utilizes technology such as vibration analysis and infrared thermography to assess machinery condition. Potential problems and maintenance requirements can be identified so they can be resolved at the convenience of the production schedule. This allows a problem such as a misalignment or an unbalanced condition to be taken care of before it causes severe damage to the machine. Such a plan prevents production losses, limits repair cost and eliminates headaches.
IBT’s Industrial Maintenance Technologies Division (IMT) has been providing and implementing Predictive Maintenance programs for a number of years. By educating personnel on the differences in programs and how a PDM program benefits the entire plant, we have been able to reduce unscheduled downtime resulting in significant cost savings.
To learn more about IBT IMT, contact