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Maintenance Strategies: From Reactive to Reliability-Centered

Maintenance Strategies – Which stage best describes your current situation?

“We need to tighten up our operations budget but have no idea where to start.”

“We spent XX dollars on maintenance last quarter, but how much did we really improve our overall operations?”

Sound familiar? As threats of a recession and high inflation continue to dominate national headlines, the question remains – what can you do now to help address these concerns at your company?

One way is to first identify where you fall on the spectrum of maintenance strategies. In our next blog, we will further investigate how you can implement small changes to progress forward along this spectrum for a larger payback.

Stage 1: Reactive Maintenance aka Run-To-Failure

What: Fixing a tool or a part of a machine at the time of breakage; also known as run-to-failure

Reactive maintenance is our first line of defense to put out immediate fires and return to operational status. This methodology dates back to the Neothilic Age, about 12,000 years ago, and was more formally documented during the Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840) in Europe, which first introduced us to the machine age and created the need for machine maintenance workers. This tried and true methodology is still used today to keep upfront maintenance costs low but can negatively affect budgets and productivity in the long run.

Did You Know?

The cost of unplanned downtime was approximately $250,000 per hour, at an average of more than $2 million per downtime event.

Increasing repair costs for parts and labor equates to a 30 – 40% higher cost expectancy for reactive maintenance versus predictive maintenance strategies.

Stage 2: Preventive Maintenance

What: Fixing a part of a machine right before it fails

Preventive maintenance is the first step to taking a more proactive approach to maintenance using time-based and interval-based maintenance techniques. One of the first mentions in history for preventative maintenance dates back to the German DUV, founded in 1872, that loosely translates to the Steam Boiler Monitoring Association, to preserve the life of factory workers and keep factories operational. This strategy can be beneficial for equipment that is essential to your operations, but often times does not include the metrics needed to implement a more predictable maintenance schedule.

Did You Know?

When preventative maintenance strategies are used instead of reactive, manufacturing firms identified a 12% – 18% overall cost savings.

Preventive maintenance costs $13/hour per year, while predictive maintenance costs $9/hour per year according to Ulbert’s report The Difference Between Predictive Maintenance and Preventive Maintenance.

Stage 3: Predictive Maintenance

What: Fixing a part of a machine in relation to the actual condition of the equipment and the usage pattern

Predictive maintenance uses condition monitoring to predict machine failure based on the actual condition and usage of the machine, and not a preset schedule. It is linked back to
C.H. Waddington, a British epidemiologist, who in 1943 discovered predictive patterns in aircraft performance based on the condition of the airplanes and their usage while inspecting the Royal Air Force Coastal Command 502 Squadron. Predictive maintenance strategies can increase the operational life of equipment and improve worker and environmental safety, but the savings potential is not always readily realized by management.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Energy’s O&M Best Practices Guide identified a 10-fold return-on-investment for industrial manufacturing when predictive maintenance strategies are used.

Stage 4: Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)

What: Fixing a part of machine based on a data-driven system that assesses each components’ maintenance needs based on the design life cycle of the machine with the minimum amount of maintenance required

This process is based on the posture that all equipment in a facility is not of equal importance and involves investigating failures to determine the best maintenance schedule to maximize equipment efficiency. In an effort to create more reliability for passenger safety, Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap first published the concept of RCM, in a study commissioned to United Airlines from the US Department of Defense. RCM is a highly efficient maintenance practice but is also one of the most expensive strategies to implement.

Did You Know?

24% of manufacturing companies are currently using RCM strategies, according to the 2021 Plant Engineering’s annual Maintenance Study.

Now that we’ve established a common foundation for our discussion, we can dive into the practical steps and challenges maintenance managers and planners have. In the meantime, what is your biggest challenge regarding maintenance schedules and practices? Share your questions and challenges and we’ll do our best to address them in our series.

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