The pros and cons of different maintenance strategies

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The pros and cons of different maintenance strategies

maintenanceWhether your business is big or small, conducting effective maintenance on your machinery is essential. But which is the right maintenance strategy for you? That’s a big question, because choosing the wrong one can be catastrophic to you, your business and your staff. In this blog we provide a summary of the different options you have and outline some of the key advantages and disadvantages of each to help you get a better understanding of what’s available to you.

Breakdown maintenance

The simplest maintenance strategy is that of ‘breakdown maintenance’. This is where assets are deliberately run until they fail. When failure occurs, reactive maintenance is performed to fix the asset and return it to full operation. This approach is common when equipment failure doesn’t significantly affect operations or productivity.

Advantages:

  • Minimal planning is required
  • The process is very simple so it is easy to understand
  • Fewer staff are required as less work is done day-to-day

Disadvantages:

  • Failure is highly unpredictable
  • It can be extremely costly
  • The process poses a safety risk to employees and other assets.

Preventative maintenance

The purpose of preventative maintenance is to prevent assets from breaking down by performing maintenance regularly – instead of conducting maintenance once failure has occurred. Preventative maintenance predominantly features two different types of maintenance: periodic maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Advantages:

  • Keeps assets up and running for longer than other types of maintenance
  • Long-term repair costs are usually significantly lower
  • Safety is improved due to reduced likelihood of catastrophic failure

Disadvantages:

  • More complex than other types of maintenance
  • Requires more investment early on.

Periodic maintenance (time-based)

In a time-based maintenance strategy, assets are periodically inspected, serviced and cleaned, with parts replaced in an effort to prevent sudden failure. While this allows those responsible for maintenance and servicing to reduce the likelihood of failure through scheduled checks and is far more effective than running breakdown maintenance, it cannot guarantee breakdown won’t happen.

Advantages:

  • Usually made up of tasks that don’t require extensive training, such as lubricating and retightening screws
  • Lower long term costs compared with breakdown maintenance

Disadvantages:

  • Planning time is required
  • Parts are often replaced before end of life, which costs more than waiting until they fail
  • If a part experiences a serious problem prior to the next inspection, assets can fail anyway.

Predictive maintenance

In a predictive maintenance strategy, engineers predict when equipment failure might happen, and then perform maintenance to keep machines in operation. This ensures that a piece of equipment requiring maintenance is only shut down right before imminent failure, allowing assets to remain productive for the most amount of time possible. Predictive maintenance uses a process known as condition monitoring to check the status of assets on a regular basis.

Advantages:

  • Cost and time of machine downtime is kept to a minimum
  • Likelihood of failure is reduced and reliability improved

Disadvantages:

  • Higher upfront cost than more basic maintenance strategies.

Condition monitoring

Condition monitoring is the process of determining the condition of an asset while it is in operation, through techniques such as vibration monitoring. In today’s engineering environment, monitoring the condition of assets is essential to minimising the failure and downtime of critical machinery as it allows for remedial action to be taken and productivity to be protected.

Advantages:

  • Problems with components can be identified prior to failure
  • Repairs can be carried out on assets to keep them running with minimal disruption to productivity
  • Long-term costs are very low compared with the cost of failure

Disadvantages:

  • Short-term investment is required.

As you can see, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to different maintenance strategies. No matter what your needs, there’s a strategy to suit you. Simply consider the pros and cons of each maintenance strategy and select the one that is most suitable for your assets. If you opt for the condition monitoring option and require advice on vibration monitoring, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can support you.

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