Maintenance Management
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Preventive Maintenance in Facilities: An Introduction

Preventive maintenance involves regular, scheduled checkups to prevent equipment failures and extend the asset lifespan. Read on to know more!

Tamoghna Chakraborty
Title card for preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintaining equipment, systems, and facilities in optimal condition by performing routine inspections, adjustments, and repairs. It involves scheduled maintenance activities aimed at reducing the likelihood of equipment failure, minimizing unplanned downtime, and extending the lifespan of assets. By addressing potential issues before they escalate into major problems, preventive maintenance helps facilities operate more efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively. This approach is widely adopted across various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and commercial buildings, as it offers numerous benefits for organizations and their operations.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is the process of regularly checking on assets, equipments present in a facility so as to provide them with the full working potential at all times. Unlike predictive maintenance where maintenance is done on assets on a case to case basis depending on various factors such as historical performance data, previous failures for the purpose of predicting a failure taking place in the future, preventive maintenance tries to solve the equipment problem through consistency. Preventive maintenance is one of the most prominent forms of maintenance strategies used by organizations as it allows them to keep a routine check on their equipment and assets and provide a kind of a vaccine to any impending diseases that might arise in the future.

A history of Preventive Maintenance

The term gained more prominence during the age of the Industrial Revolution. In the 18th century, when the world was hit by a wave of rapid infrastructural development, the need for maintaining the expensive machinery was required, for which various forms of maintenance strategies were resorted to. Before the Industrial Revolution, reactive maintenance was more of the norm because the idea of routine checkups on assets was not fully discovered as human beings were mainly engaged with the results rather than the ends. For example, they were more interested in going from one place to another through the help of the wheel rather than making sure that the wheel was devoid of any faults.

Post the reactive maintenance phase where no focus regarding maintenance was given unless and until the entire asset failed which was too late to do anything. This caused a problem because first of all, there were very few resources available for which efficient utilization was mandatory and secondly, the need for saving resources was found as resources was scarce in the first place. Hence, it was highly inefficient and very crude towards the utility maximizing qualities of the people staying during that time. As the technological landscape became more evolved and advanced, the need for incorporating solutions and also taking measures in response to inconsistencies cropping up in the operational workflow in the organization became important. The Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled facilities to monitor their asset performance in real time, deriving data and then utilizing it to gather insights based on which it can have comprehensive and detailed information on the state of the assets and the need for their maintenance. Various facilities, businesses and organizations are taking the help of preventive maintenance strategies to make sure that their assets are in the best possible condition and any faulty asset is worked upon so that it does not have unexpected or unplanned downtime. Cleaning the assets frequently, making sure safety compliances are in place, planning routine checkups of heating, ventilation and the air conditioning are some of the ways of undertaking preventive maintenance in a facility.

Thus, through these transformational maintenance strategies through the years, preventive maintenance has emerged as a champion in understanding the faults of the assets and making sure that they are safe from their own lifecycle in the context of asset failures. Hence, preventive maintenance is a crucial component for ensuring that there is no breakdown of the operation workflow, asset utilization is maximized and long term cost savings is achieved.

Why is preventive maintenance required in facilities

The need for preventive maintenance is quite diverse. Let us take a look at some of the need it creates for the organizations to seamlessly integrate it within its operations:

  • Increased Equipment Reliability: Equipment Reliability makes up an important part of any businesses as the entire process is dependent on the quality of the assets. If they are faulty in nature, then automatically there is a negative impacts on the operational process and hence, it will lead to costly breakdowns. Preventive Maintenance is done so that the reliability or the dependency on the assets is directly proportional to the productivity the asset provides for the organization. Once the reliability of equipment increases, automatically efficiency in the operations is positively affected.

  • Extended Asset Lifespan: If a business purchases an asset, it purchases with the vision for keeping it for a long time. For example, if a company has bought an AC, then it hopes to make the AC work at its highest potential for almost 2 years. Now, to ensure that the highest potential is reached during that time, preventive maintenance is done so that routinely there is a check on the physical characteristics of the chair and how efficiently it provides value to the business. Proper maintenance according to manufacturer recommendations can significantly extend the useful life of equipment, reducing the need for premature replacements and associated capital expenditures. Just as shoe polish makes the shoe shine, preventive maintenance helps the assets in taking precautions so that if any potential hazard takes place in the future, it will already be safe from it.

  • Cost Savings: The entire prerogative of using preventive maintenance is that an amount of money is set out from the operational budget only for looking at inconsistencies existing within the asset. By preventing major failures and minimizing repairs, preventive maintenance can lead to substantial cost savings in the long run, offsetting the upfront investment in scheduled maintenance activities.

  • Reduced Downtime: Downtime is the time period for which an asset is unavailable for use. This creates a problem, in the regards of criticality levied with the asset itself. If the asset is of critical nature and is experiencing significantly high downtime, then it can cause a huge problem for the facilities. Hence, here preventive maintenance takes the front seat as through the routine checkups, these sort of inconsistencies existing within the assets are removed and they are made to work at their original potential.

  • Improved Safety: Safety in the workplace is obviously a grave element to take care of whilst ensuring that all functions work efficiently. Maintenance has to take place if one wants to create a workplace devoid of any dangers. The entire maxim of preventive maintenance revolves on the pivot that maintenance makes an asset better, which thus, ensures a safe and harmonious workplace. Preventive maintenance helps identify and mitigate potential safety hazards, ensuring a safer working environment for employees and visitors alike. 

Trends in Preventive Maintenance

The field of preventive maintenance is continuously evolving, driven by technological advancements and the need for more efficient and data-driven approaches. One of the most significant trends is the integration of predictive maintenance techniques, which leverage data analytics and machine learning algorithms to monitor equipment performance and predict potential failures before they occur. By analyzing real-time data from sensors, historical maintenance records, and environmental factors, predictive maintenance systems can identify patterns and anomalies, enabling facilities to schedule maintenance activities precisely when needed. This approach not only minimizes unplanned downtime but also optimizes resource allocation and reduces unnecessary maintenance costs. Another key trend is the adoption of digital technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), CMMSand mobile applications. IoT-enabled sensors and connected devices allow for remote monitoring and data collection, providing facilities with real-time insights into equipment condition and performance. Mobile applications further enhance accessibility and convenience, enabling maintenance teams to access equipment manuals, work orders, and maintenance schedules from anywhere, streamlining communication and documentation processes. Additionally, the integration of drones and robotics in maintenance operations is gaining traction, particularly in industries with hazardous or hard-to-reach areas, improving safety and reducing the need for human intervention in high-risk environments.

Future Plans?

As technology continues to advance, the future of preventive maintenance is poised to become even more sophisticated and data-driven. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will play a pivotal role in predictive maintenance strategies. AI algorithms will be able to process vast amounts of data from multiple sources, including sensor data, historical records, and environmental factors, to identify intricate patterns and make highly accurate predictions about potential equipment failures. Additionally, the adoption of digital twins – virtual representations of physical assets – will revolutionize preventive maintenance practices. Digital twins will enable facilities to simulate and test various maintenance scenarios, optimizing maintenance schedules and resource allocation without disrupting actual operations. This technology will also facilitate remote monitoring and maintenance, allowing experts to diagnose and address issues from anywhere in the world, reducing downtime and minimizing the need for on-site interventions.

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