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Differences Between Preventive, Predictive, and Proactive Maintenance

 In Plant Manager Tips

Among the many complexities of successfully operating an industrial facility is the need to optimize efficiency. Unplanned downtime, however, can disrupt productivity, negatively impact revenue, cause production delays, and harm your company’s reputation. In fact, downtime is costing the industrial sector an estimated $50 billion annually

To overcome this obstacle and improve the quality of their output, plant managers are moving away from traditional maintenance techniques. In lieu of a reactive approach — waiting for something to break before fixing it — the industry is moving toward more effective methods, including preventive, predictive, and proactive maintenance. 

These preemptive measures are designed to maximize asset availability, but what’s the difference between the three? Here’s a look at how preventive, predictive, and proactive maintenance differ. 

Preventive Maintenance

Preventative maintenance refers to routinely scheduled equipment inspections aimed at identifying and rectifying small problems before they develop into larger, costlier issues. The goal of performing preventive maintenance is to foster early detection, expand asset lifespans, and curtail unplanned breakdowns. 


Preventive Maintenance Advantages

  • Decreased risk: Routine inspections of equipment and assets will lower the risk of unexpected failure. Not only does this reduce expenses associated with equipment repair and replacement, but it cultivates a safer working environment for your crew. 
  • Scheduled in advance: Adhering to a regular schedule allows you to allocate a budget for your maintenance needs instead of approaching it blindly. Proactively keeping track of your plant’s assets provides the insight needed to anticipate future needs, like when a piece of equipment will need to be replaced, and budget accordingly. 
  • Minimized disruptions: Strategically performing equipment checks eliminates abrupt, unforeseen failures, as you’ll be aware of maintenance needs in advance. Instead of unexpected disruptions to worker productivity and plant operations, you’ll be equipped with the intel needed to plan and prepare for downtime beforehand. 
  • Reduced energy waste: When plant assets aren’t properly maintained, they consume more energy, driving up utility costs for your plant. By cleaning and maintaining assets on a regular basis, you’ll ensure equipment is operating efficiently and at an optimal level. 


Preventive Maintenance Disadvantages

  • Increased labor: Since plant assets will be checked more frequently, you’ll need more employees to perform daily maintenance tasks. 
  • Schedule changes: Because you’re implementing a plan to check and clean plant assets regularly, you may discover that some items don’t need to be tended to as frequently. As a result, you’ll need to adjust your maintenance schedule accordingly to align with the specific needs of each plant asset. 


Predictive Maintenance

As Deloitte shares, predictive maintenance “utilizes data from various sources, such as critical equipment sensors, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), and production data. Smart factory management systems couple this data with advanced prediction models and analytical tools to predict failures and address them proactively. Additionally, over time, new machine-learning technology can increase the accuracy of the predictive algorithms, leading to even better performance.”

By continuously monitoring equipment data, predictive maintenance can pinpoint patterns and identify potential issues, allowing your maintenance team to address problems early.


Predictive Maintenance Advantages

  • Reduced costs: Predictive maintenance provides the insight needed to tackle equipment and asset issues before failure occurs, making it a cost-effective solution compared to reactive maintenance. Having such valuable data at your fingertips will effectively decrease long-term maintenance expenses and bolster the longevity of your equipment. Because predictive maintenance reduces the overall time your facility spends on maintenance-related tasks, you may also see a corresponding decrease in overtime hours and accompanying labor costs.
  • Decreased downtime: Repairs associated with equipment breakdowns are typically more extensive and expensive than proactively performing small tune-ups and repairs. After a failure occurs, replacing or repairing assets often leads to unexpected and excessive downtime — increasing overtime pay and hours to compensate for the productivity loss. With predictive maintenance, downtime can be avoided or planned for in advance to maximize asset productivity and plant uptime. 


According to Global Electronic Services, “Predictive maintenance also reduces downtime because the condition of equipment is constantly monitored while the equipment is running and production is in full swing. Instead of preventative maintenance that requires machines to be shut down to perform inspections, predictive maintenance constantly receives data on critical operations of machinery so periodic inspections are not necessary. Predictive maintenance can minimize disruptions to workflow to boost productivity and profits.”

  • Prolonged asset lifespan: Equipment is able to run longer and more efficiently when it’s properly maintained. By extending the lifespan of your plant’s assets, you’ll see a significant decrease in long-term equipment costs. 
  • Improved production quality: When equipment isn’t operating optimally, it can lead to product contamination, defects, and slower production output. Quality and consistency of products can be elevated when equipment performance is high and uninterrupted. 


Predictive Maintenance Disadvantages

  • Requires constant equipment monitoring: Using a predictive maintenance strategy requires your plant to implement the technology needed to collect data from your equipment for evaluation. This technology, known as condition monitoring equipment, can come in the form of vibration sensors, thermal imaging, or sonic equipment. As data accumulates, your plant will need eyes on the analytics to monitor asset performance and advise on needs. 
  • Requires an expert data analyst: Skilled analysts are needed to assess and interpret data, as well as determine maintenance needs and identify imminent equipment failure. For analysis to be effective, workers must have a thorough understanding of both the monitoring technology and the plant’s assets. Whether you opt to hire new employees or provide specialized training to key personnel, proficient data interpretation is required when using predictive maintenance. 


Proactive Maintenance

Nest shares, “Proactive maintenance leverages data, often utilizing computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, to determine the underlying cause of faulty equipment. This approach seeks to reduce your overall machine and repair costs and extend the life of your equipment by addressing potential problems before they arise. If done correctly, repairs can be limited, because you’re aggressively tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) at all times.”


Proactive Maintenance Advantages

  • Reduced unscheduled downtime: Since proactive maintenance aims to identify the root cause of potential issues, it provides the insight needed to intercept and rectify the main factors responsible for breakdowns. For instance, build-up on your industrial tanks can cause mixers to stall, halting production and profitability. Through proactive maintenance, however, you can evade unnecessary disruptions and decrease downtime. 
  • Improved operational efficiency: By identifying faults in the techniques used for equipment and assets, proactive maintenance can help you streamline processes and improve operational efficiency. Additionally, the method ensures plant equipment is running at peak performance, improving both production and asset life cycles. 
  • Reduced costs: The costs associated with emergency repairs, downtime, and equipment failure far outweighs the cost of investing in proactive maintenance. Because proactive maintenance initiatives can be integrated into your existing work routines, it’ll decrease labor expenses that stem from hiring costly emergency crews when a breakdown or outage occurs. When maintenance is tackled proactively, it’ll improve machine reliability, increase production quality, and keep operations running smoothly. Proactive maintenance strengthens workplace safety as well. For instance, investing in robotic cleaning for your industrial tanks keeps employees from being exposed to hazardous conditions, reducing injuries and ensuring processes are carried out in a timely and thorough manner. 


Proactive Maintenance Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t fix failures: The main disadvantage of proactive maintenance is it focuses on determining the root cause of an issue rather than fixing the problem itself. As with any of these maintenance methods, your plant must have a well-structured and organized system for maintenance-related activities to ensure plant efficiency and performance are maximized.


Choose the Right Approach for Your Plant

To recap, preventative maintenance involves routine cleaning and checks while predictive maintenance uses data to identify and forecast equipment needs. Proactive maintenance combines both preventative and predictive methods — performing regular maintenance in an effort to tackle the root cause of a potential issue before a breakdown or failure occurs. 

Moving forward, the most effective way to optimize plant operations is to transition from a reactive approach to one of the above three maintenance management methods. You can also learn more about how technology is reshaping the industrial sector by checking out our post: How Robots Are Taking Over Both Large and Small Jobs in Chemical Plants.

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