Selecting the right maintenance strategy can drastically improve your asset’s performance and longevity
The holy grail of facilities management is to have such clear oversight of your assets that it’s possible to predict when and where a problem will arise, and also be able to take proactive steps to avoid it in the first place. In the world of Asset Management, the approach is commonly known as Predictive Maintenance.
Predictive Maintenance can also help decision-making by providing clear understanding of asset liabilities, where to prioritise spend, and also helps organisations meet compliance regulations. Compliance is the biggest challenge faced by survey respondents to the recent Hard FM Compliance survey, with 76% agreeing it’s their biggest concern.
Companies rely on the optimum performance of assets and when one unexpectedly fails, it can lead to expensive repair costs and operational outages.
However, employing a well-defined maintenance approach won’t stop a failure or problem from occurring.
Many organisations tend to utilise two other maintenance strategies as part of their overall approach: reactive or preventative maintenance.
Having the right maintenance strategy can drive down costs and avoid downtime to improve efficiency and keeping your operations running smoothly and affordably.
Which maintenance approach is right for me?
Employing an effective maintenance strategy keeps assets delivering at their desired performance level, and the right strategy should balance cost with the risk of failure.
The ideal maintenance program should achieve an affordable blend of the different methods to make sure your facilities are operating efficiently and affordably, and optimises their performance for the long-term.
It’s rare for an organisation to employ a single approach. In most cases, organisations mix and match different methods to build a strategy that is most effective for their environment.
Let’s take a look at the three most common programs: Reactive, preventative and predictive maintenance, and how they can work in different scenarios.
Reactive maintenance is effectively a run-to-failure strategy. This is a very hands-off, eyes-shut approach to facility maintenance. It keeps routine maintenance costs down, at the risk of costly breakdowns and outages. Staff resources will generally be focused on putting out fires to keep the organisation running on a day-to-day basis.
Reactive maintenance may result in reduced planning costs. However, this is the limit of the benefits of this approach, contrasted with the need to sustain operations and satisfy legislative requirements.
Increased costs can arise as a result of consequential costs; these would be as a result of downtime, reputational impact, and the fact that asset failures drive up labour and material costs. Contractor and overtime costs may outweigh any savings in manpower from electing to have a total run to failure strategy.
Lack of planning could also result in multiple assets needing attention at the same time, causing long delays and extended downtime of critical equipment.
Preventive maintenance requires planning activities in advance to mitigate the potential failure of assets. It’s performed with the aim of reducing costs in both the short and long term. While it does’t negate the risk of asset failure, it increases the probability of catching and correcting issues before they become major problems.
Preventive maintenance involves inspecting and repairing assets at specified times, in the same way that you take your car in for a service and an oil change at regular intervals. Generally, either a certain timeframe or an event triggers the inspection. Many organisations using this approach also implement software to help manage scheduled activities. The software means many activities can be automated, improving staff efficiencies; most, if not all, paper-based tasks are eliminated; and they have complete visibility across all activities – with no surprises.
Planning maintenance activities in advance can extend the life cycle of your assets and mitigate the risk of costly unplanned failures and outages. In the US, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has reported an estimated 12 to 18 percent in savings compared to reactive maintenance strategies in the Power Industry.
The downside to preventative maintenance is having too many pre-planned activities. Those efficiencies mentioned above can quickly be replaced with increased time and costs when the schedule isn’t maintained or continually improved. If the schedule isn’t optimised regularly, staff could be carrying out unnecessary tasks with little benefit to your organisation.
Predictive maintenance helps you anticipate when asset deterioration may occur and allows you to intervene before it happens. In the aerospace industry predictive maintenance has (in some instances) been credited with reducing maintenance costs by up to 50 percent.
The main goal of predictive maintenance is to inspect your assets, either visually or more commonly by using technologies such as machine learning or robust analytics tools, to eliminate breakdowns before they happen.
Having access to actionable analytics and insights extends the value of an asset: not only can you understand the day-to-day requirements, it gives you clear oversight of the activities needed for the long term, helping to prioritise when and where spend and focus is required across its entire life cycle. Having access to solid data will help drive the conversation and get senior management buy-in, which will be needed considering the considerable investment that is often required when implementing a predictive maintenance strategy. In the long run though, the ROI will be realised many times over.
Ultimately, incorporating predictive maintenance into your overall strategy will improve asset visibility across its entire lifecycle, drive down costs, and reduced downtime at your facility.
Striking the Balance
There is no one size fits all maintenance strategy to be deployed across facilities. In our experience, organisations have the best outcomes when their strategy strikes the balance of all three of these techniques.
An approach that seeks to balance these strategies is the best way to get started. Your maintenance strategy should seek to sustain your assets in a way that achieves organisational objectives at the optimum balance between cost risk and performance.