Predictive Maintenance Questions Answered

Shon Isenhour

“I have a solid work control process and I am ready for the next step. I know predictive maintenance is more cost effective than my old preventive maintenance program, but how do I get a program started?”

When organizations look to truly embrace predictive maintenance, they typically have three questions that must be answered in order to move forward. These questions are the basic decisions that need to be made to get you moving in the right direction.

All of this is contingent upon your facility having processes for identified work planned, scheduled and executed because without this, predictive maintenance will not be as effective. Simply put, you need to answer what, where and who.

What technologies need to be employed, where in the plant and by whom? Once you know this you can begin to build your process, business case and justification to proceed.

What predictive technologies make the most sense to introduce early in the startup of your program? Where will you apply them within the facility?

 I suggest taking your equipment list and equipment criticality and applying a tool like the Allied Asset Heath Matrix. This tool allows you to analyze your full asset list and map the predictive technologies based on known failure modes for those assets.

The output allows you to see theoretically, for a given technology, where it can be used and how many opportunities are available. Once this is done, you can decide your level of predictive coverage based on criticality and the technologies you found to be most justified for your startup.

Once you know what you are going to do and where, you have to decide …

“Who is going to staff the predictive maintenance program? Does my organization have the skill set and desire to internalize a predictive program?”

Be very honest with yourself. This decision really drives the business case and return on investment. You may find that the answer is yes, no or somewhere in between. These correspond to the three strategies available to you.

You can complete all of your predictive maintenance in house using your existing reliability and maintenance staff or outsource all of your predictive maintenance to outside vendors, or use a hybrid model where some of the technologies are done in-house and others are outsourced.

For ease of discussion, I will assume you have chosen to do this in-house for now. In the best-case scenario, you either already have or have hired an experienced staff of predictive technicians.

However, in times of ever-tightening staffing budgets, that is probably not likely. So, you will need to free up the internal resources from your existing staff. They will need time for both training and execution of the program.

One tool that can help free up some of the resources is a preventive maintenance evaluation (PME). It does this by eliminating waste in your current PM program. The tool allows for a review of your existing preventive program, task by task.

These tasks can then be categorized for improvement. Through work with our partners at Allied Reliability, we have seen that in many industrial settings, about 30 percent of existing PM tasks do not add value because they do not address specific failure modes, among other reasons.

These could be PM steps that were added to fight symptoms or came from the original vendor PM list that was not accurate. These items can be stopped immediately. This frees up the labor from 30 percent of your PM program. This labor can be used to start the training required for effective use of the PdM technologies.

Secondly, the preventive maintenance optimizations have shown that you can transfer 30 percent of the existing PM task to PdM. This will allow them to be completed in less time as well as more effectively.

This becomes the start of your program, the first areas of focus. Once you have freed up the time to institute the program and have added the tasks that are better served by predictive methods, you can proceed to grow the program over time.

So, to implement a predictive program, you must answer these three most basic questions: What, where and who. Once you are comfortable with the answers, then you will be able to create your plan for your journey with PdM.

To learn more, visit www.LCE.com.

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