Aug
17

What is preventive maintenance?

 

Preventive maintenance, also known as planned maintenance, refers to the proactive maintenance of equipment before a breakdown or failure occurs. This type of maintenance is performed while the equipment is still operational, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of failures or significant decreases in equipment performance. Preventive maintenance tasks may include cleaning, lubrication, adjustments, repairs, parts replacements, and inspections.

Preventive maintenance vs reactive maintenance

 

While preventive maintenance aims to avoid equipment failures, reactive maintenance involves fixing equipment and systems once they fail, with no planned or scheduled tasks. This strategy may appear more cost-effective, but the associated costs due to unexpected failures, downtime, potential safety hazards, and collateral damage can outweigh the perceived savings. Therefore, an effective maintenance strategy often blends both preventive maintenance for crucial assets and reactive maintenance for non-essential equipment.

Benefits of preventive maintenance

Enhanced equipment reliability

Preventive maintenance significantly enhances equipment reliability. Regular checks and servicing allow potential issues to be identified and resolved early, avoiding unexpected failures. This results in machinery that you can trust to perform optimally when needed, increasing overall operational efficiency.

Increased equipment performance

An effective preventive maintenance plan not only ensures equipment functions but also optimises its performance. Regularly serviced equipment, with clean filters, well-lubricated parts, and calibrated settings, operates more efficiently and delivers superior performance, maximising productivity.

Minimised downtime & project delays

Unexpected equipment failures can result in significant downtime and delays, hampering project timelines. Preventive maintenance helps minimise this risk by addressing issues before they escalate into major problems, thereby ensuring continuous operation and adherence to project schedules.

Cost-savings & ROI

While preventive maintenance involves upfront costs, it offers significant long-term savings. Regular maintenance helps avoid expensive repair or replacement costs associated with major breakdowns. Additionally, by improving efficiency and minimising downtime, preventive maintenance contributes to a better return on investment (ROI) on equipment.

Extended equipment lifespan

Regular maintenance extends the useful life of equipment. By addressing wear and tear proactively and ensuring optimal operating conditions, preventive maintenance helps to preserve the machinery’s condition, delaying its depreciation, and extending its operational lifespan.

Safety benefits

Lastly, safety is a paramount benefit of preventive maintenance. Regular inspections and servicing ensure that all safety systems are functioning correctly, reducing the risk of accidents caused by equipment malfunction. This promotes a safer working environment and compliance with occupational health and safety regulations.

Challenges with preventive maintenance

Upfront costs

Preventive maintenance requires a more significant initial investment compared to reactive maintenance. Costs can be incurred in various forms, such as investment in a maintenance management system or software to track maintenance schedules, purchasing equipment required for regular checks and servicing, or hiring professionals to perform these tasks.

Over-maintenance

In an attempt to ensure machinery is in the best possible condition, preventive maintenance can sometimes lead to over-maintenance, where maintenance tasks are performed more frequently than necessary. This can result in unnecessary costs for labour and parts, and equipment downtime that could have been utilised for production. Hence, a well-structured and well-managed preventive maintenance program is essential to ensure maintenance activities are performed only when necessary.

Need for skilled labour

Preventive maintenance, by nature, demands a certain level of technical expertise, more so than reactive maintenance. This is because preventive maintenance often involves complex tasks such as equipment inspection, servicing, and timely detection of potential issues. Skilled technicians are needed for these tasks, but finding, hiring, and retaining such personnel can be a challenging and costly affair.

Scheduling challenges

The planning and execution of a preventive maintenance program can be quite complex, particularly for businesses with a large fleet of machinery or numerous pieces of equipment. It requires careful scheduling to ensure that maintenance activities do not interfere with production schedules or result in unnecessary downtime. Balancing the needs of maintenance with the demands of production can be quite challenging.

Potentially unnecessary maintenance

Preventive maintenance often works on a schedule rather than the actual condition of the equipment. As a result, maintenance tasks may be carried out on machines that are in good condition and do not require any servicing at that point in time. This can lead to wastage of resources, both in terms of manpower and materials. A more optimal solution could be the use of condition-based maintenance, where maintenance tasks are performed based on the actual condition of the equipment.

When to use preventive maintenance

 

Preventive maintenance is best employed under certain circumstances where the benefits outweigh the costs and challenges. Here are some of the scenarios where preventive maintenance should be a top consideration:

  1. High-value equipment: the higher the value of the equipment, the higher the cost of potential failures. In such cases, preventive maintenance is key to ensure that these costly assets remain in top working condition and their lifespan is extended as much as possible.
  2. Safety-critical systems: for systems where failure could result in serious safety hazards or environmental risks, preventive maintenance is absolutely necessary. This can help identify potential failures before they happen, thereby reducing the risk of accidents.
  3. High dependence: if your operations heavily rely on certain pieces of machinery, where their failure could significantly disrupt the workflow or halt production, preventive maintenance is crucial.
  4. Predictable wear and tear: preventive maintenance is also beneficial for machinery or equipment that undergoes predictable wear and tear. Regular maintenance can mitigate the effects of this wear and prolong the life of the equipment.
  5. Warranty requirements: some equipment warranties require that certain preventive maintenance tasks are carried out to remain valid. In these cases, regular maintenance is not just recommended, it’s required.
  6. Cost of downtime is high: if the cost of unexpected downtime, which could result from equipment breakdown, significantly outweighs the cost of performing preventive maintenance, it is prudent to adopt a preventive approach.

Maintenance with Vermeer

 

Regular routine maintenance is an integral part of running an operation that relies heavily on machinery. At Vermeer WA & NT, we understand this and can help you greatly extend the life and efficiency of your machinery to reduce unplanned downtime and increase productivity and profitability.

Our dedicated team of experienced professionals provides comprehensive on-site and regional support for all your needs. Whether it’s a piece of construction or mining equipment, Vermeer WA & NT is ready to assist you with a tailored maintenance plan. Our dedication and expertise have resulted in equipment running over 30,000 hours with an 85% availability to operators. You can’t find better Vermeer servicing anywhere else! 

Reach out to Vermeer WA & NT today and embark on a journey toward an operation that runs smoothly, efficiently, and with minimal interruptions.

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