As much as half of every dollar you spend on preventive maintenance is wasted

By | 4 minute read | May 4, 2016

Yep, that’s right – you read correctly. The average company can reduce its spend on preventive maintenance by up to 50%, according to ARC Advisory Group’s Enterprise Asset Management and Field Service Management Market Study.

This stat is surprising, especially since time based cycles for preventive maintenance is an industry standard practice. It’s not because companies have so much extra money they don’t know where to spend it – it’s because there were simply no other options.

According to another paper by ARC, only 18% of assets have an age related failure pattern, while a full 82% of asset failures occur randomly. This means 82% of assets are not actually in jeopardy of failure due to age, and the preventive maintenance performed on assets is ineffective. The perfect balance between maintenance investment and dependable assets needs a more modern approach.

So, how can you improve the efficiency of your own preventive maintenance practices? Here are a few tips:

Optimize your maintenance frequency

Under-maintaining your assets has an obvious impact. If assets are insufficiently maintained, what you’ll see is more frequent and sometimes longer breakdowns. This impacts your budget in two ways: lost production time and unplanned maintenance (which is typically more expensive than planned maintenance).

If unplanned maintenance is more expensive than planned maintenance, why not just err on the side of caution and rigorously maintain everything? This approach is also problematic because over-maintaining assets also impacts your bottom line, though in less obvious ways. When you allocate resources to assets that are not in immediate need of maintenance, you are wasting man hours and consuming unnecessary parts, which you also pay for. In fact, in a study by Oniqua Enterprise Analytics, researchers found that a full 30% of maintenance activities are carried out too frequently, which was a main driver of waste.

Monitor your assets

Your machines have a lot to tell you about when they need to be maintained – if you’re listening, that is. So, monitoring is actually the first step towards optimizing.

Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is an approach that bases repair or replacement decisions on need, which is determined through monitoring the condition of those assets. A change in condition and/or performance of an asset is the main reason for executing maintenance, rather than something like the age of an asset, which is not in and of itself a good indicator of failure. In fact, although well intentioned, age driven preventative maintenance can disrupt stability and actually introduce failures in a well-functioning system, according to a paper by Byron Ellis.

CBM can be done simply, by measuring indicators such as pressure or temperature, or by observing the output of various assets for rate of faults or defects. It can also be done by connecting instrumented assets through an Internet of Things approach. Even the condition-based approach isn’t perfect, I’ll talk more about that in a future blog post. But it’s much more targeted than the “throw a dart at the calendar” approach prevalent today.

Measure and benchmark

According to a study on maintenance efficiency by T.A. Cook, 86% of companies that regularly conduct benchmarks are able to increase efficiency as a result. Benchmarking, or continuously and systematically comparing your processes and key performance indicators to industry best practices, is a key way to identify inefficiencies. Typical KPIs tracked by companies that saw the biggest efficiency improvements include maintenance cost rate, asset availability, and performance against tracked goals or targets.

This should also be part of a larger process optimization effort, so that your maintenance processes are adjusted over time to streamline and remove those inefficiencies from your organization. Automating certain maintenance process workflows ensures that issues don’t get lost in the shuffle, and this saves money, improves uptime and promotes asset longevity.

The net

There’s good news in all of this. Sure, today the majority of your time based preventive maintenance work has little impact on uptime – the converse of this is that a shift to condition based maintenance makes your efforts highly effective and strategic to your organization. Preventive maintenance is a necessary, and even strategic practice, but to make this shift, you need the assistance of technology.

If your best maintenance guy is likely to retire in the next few years, his accumulated wealth of knowledge goes too. Even with significant training and transition plans, human knowledge is too limited to consume all the data and effectively model failure patterns. Technology can close this gap.

The Internet of Things – integrated to work management systems and informed by business analytics – provides new tools to help you achieve true evidence based intervention strategies. Regular monitoring, benchmarking and reporting on your asset health will help you focus your investment at the right level and the right time.

If you’re interested in how you can use the Internet of Things and analytics for condition monitoring and preventive maintenance, check out this short analyst paper by Ralph Rio, ARC Advisory Group.

To learn more about how your enterprise asset management solution can enable better maintenance decisions, visit our website to see how it works.