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Understanding and Implementing Predictive Maintenance Excellence

Introduction: Modern industry is at a crossroads in today's world. Management is driven to reduce costs and provide higher productivity. Yet, management in many cases does not have the correct information required to make long-term cost effective decisions with regards to the maintenance of the facilities, buildings, infrastructure, utilities, and assets that make parts that make up the final product. This paper will focus around large industry, which uses high technology machine tools, as well as industrial complexes which utilize more infrastructure types of equipment. Infrastructure systems include, crane systems, towers, pumping systems, motor support systems, chiller systems, utility power systems. Building systems include centrifugal chillers, steam systems, boiler systems, HVAC systems, lighting and electrical systems and much more.

The principals discussed here however will apply to any business of any size. The key is to understand what the applications of Predictive Technologies are, and what implementing Maintenance Excellence means, and how to apply the basic foundation principals. You need to understand that Predictive Maintenance Excellence for one company may not be the same for another. This makes achieving Predictive Maintenance Excellence a moving target and in reality this is a true statement. It is my firm belief after years of study and implementation that a company must execute the seven basic foundation principals of Maintenance Excellence before a truly effective Predictive Maintenance Excellence process can be put into place.

Here are some examples of Predictive Technologies used today:

Vibration Analysis: Detection of unbalance, misalignment, bent shafts, eccentric rotors, sheaves, etc., resonance, mechanical looseness, oil whirl, bearing failures, gear mesh problems, motor problems, and more. We also have balancing equipment available to assist you in correcting your machinery problems as well.

Infrared Thermography: Monitors the emission of radiated energy in the infrared wave lengths, i.e., temperature, to determine their operating condition, and detecting thermal anomalies, areas that are hotter or colder than they should be. Infrared techniques can be used to detect problems in electrical switch gear, gearboxes, electrical substations, transmissions, circuit breaker panels, motors, building envelopes, bearings, steam lines, and process systems that rely on heat retention or transfer.

Tribology and Oil Analysis: Defined as the ‘science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion', oil analysis allows a window into machinery. Using Wear Particle Analysis, conclusions may be drawn as to the condition of internal moving parts. Testing will allow comparing the chemicals and physicals of the oil against virgin oil, to determine if the oil is still an adequate lubricant. Tests also include viscosity, water, additives, etc.

Motor Condition Analysis: Motor circuit analysis tells us the condition of motor windings, the motor rotor, and motor control supply circuit. Motor current gives the operating and running condition, and general health of the motor, and also a picture of the incoming power to the motor.

Eddy Current Analysis: Eddy Current technology is used to identify variations in tube wall thickness in any system using tube heat transfer technology. Eddy Current is primarily used for Centrifugal Chillers applications, Screw Chillers, Reciprocating Chillers, boiler systems, and other tube heat transfer applications.

Ultrasound Analysis: Ultrasonic detectors serve three main major functions: 1-leak detection in compressed air, gases and vacuum installations, steam traps, pipe systems, tanks, etc., 2- mechanical detection of faults in bearings, gears, or other mechanical malfunctions of movable parts, etc. 3- electrical detection of arching and corona discharge in electric systems.

Each business is different with different ways of producing products and making profits. Because of this, you will need to understand the basic principals of achieving Maintenance Excellence. Understanding all the aspects of achieving Maintenance Excellence is a tough task, but smart management can set goals and reach those goals in incremental fashion. A little at a time, a company can achieve Maintenance Excellence. The subjects covered in this presentation are the basic building blocks, and as with any effort to reach true World Class status, the most important building blocks are the foundation blocks, for if these are weak, the rest of the effort will crumble.

Problems: Large industrial manufacturing is driven from a culture established more than 50 years ago. Too many old ways are still in place, and companies need to break free of that mold if they want to exist and compete, but especially if they wish to achieve World Class Maintenance Excellence and then Predictive Maintenance Excellence, which is the next level. The business world today is a global affair and this alone assures companies that they need to change their thinking to stay in business.

"Reduce Overhead First" thinking is firmly established in the old culture, and to change this thinking will require showing and proving the value of an overhead organization, primarily a Facilities Organization. To change culture takes time and patience, both of which are probably in short supply in today's environment. To counter the environment, you will need to have change agents in place. What is a change agent? These are people who drive the changes to processes and cultures engrained in the current environment. Change agents are people who have a talent for understanding that change is inevitable and will happen whether in an organized manner or not. These are people who are very good under pressure and scrutiny, and who believe in the changes they are working to achieve. These people understand that culture changes are slow, yet process changes can be very fast.

These are people who believe in the changes that they are helping to drive. One absolute fact about change is that it will happen. The key is to be in control of the changes by having a plan.

Understanding how to show a maintenance department's value is a tough task. This will always be a continual challenge for management in a maintenance organization. If the services your team provides to Operations simply suck up money with no real value shown in return, you will never fully achieve Maintenance Excellence, much less Predictive Maintenance Excellence. The real question is how you show value to your business partners. If your services in no way provide a dollar input to the company bottom line, how is it possible to show your true value to your customer? The key to this is in knowing your company's operation and how your company makes profit. It all comes down to a common denominator, dollars. If you know for example, that a machine tool needs to operate reliably for a set number of hours each day to produce a set amount of parts, and you know the cost of the operation to produce these parts, then one way to show value is to show management the cost to the company for machine failures during the part run periods.

Let us say that an asset "cuts chips" for 60% of a 24 hour period. That equates to 14.4 hours of actual Economic Value Added time. The balance of the 24 hours (9.6) is used for machine and tool set up time, lunches, breaks, shift schedules, etc. If the asset fails during a cutting period, then it will immediately begin to cost your operations money in lost productivity, upstream process backup of inventory, downstream process delays to finished product, asset operator labor to rework the part, operator labor lost to machine downtime during the failure, maintenance labor to perform reactive failure corrections, and so on and on. An average rule of thumb is that reactive maintenance work costs you four to five times as much as planned work. If you know these things, you are on the way to showing the value of a maintenance organization because you will be able to show in dollars and cents the costs of asset failures to the company. Predictive Maintenance can be a harder path to follow because in order to "predict" failure, the failure has not yet occurred. Believe me when you are trying to show a business partner whose back round is finance, that your avoiding failure related costs by predicting and preventing something that has not yet occurred, you will be frustrated. After all, they say, nothing has failed yet. They will ask you for tangible examples of cost avoidance instances.

This is only one way to show value. There are many ways, but those are dependant on knowing how your business operates. To have the ability to really show value, will require you to embrace the seven basic foundation principals of Maintenance Excellence. Understanding these basic principals and how to implement them is important, but sustaining them is critical. Once the basic foundation principals are in place and effective, you will be able to institute effective Predictive Maintenance. You will find that just getting the foundation principals in place will be a major culture change, but it is essential these be in place before moving on. In the following explanations I will relate the seven foundation principals and relate those to Predictive Maintenance.

Recommendations: Institute the Seven Foundation Principals of World Class Maintenance Excellence

  • Identification of all work. All work must be identified and input to a CMMS system. Work that is performed but not tracked is lost. Even though the work was important and time and resources were expended, you won't be able to account for that work and thus your maintenance organization will not get credit for their efforts.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: You must understand the types of equipment you want to utilize PdM on. You must understand what the basic technology does and its relationship to the types of equipment it is being applied against. Clearly identify where and what you want your program to focus on.
  • Prioritization of all work. All work that is submitted must be assigned a priority. There are many ways of doing this but it is much easier if you stay simple. For example, Priority 1 work would be the highest level of reactive work that would be started in a 0-24 hour time range. Priority 2 work would be reactive that could be started in a 2 -7 day time range. Priority 3 work is all planned work and can be started in a range of 8-28 days. These simple priorities should be assigned by whoever identifies the work. By taking this approach, it will make it easier to chart the work for reference. World Class companies perform at 80% planned activities or better, with 20% or less in reactive work. Reactive work usually costs the company four to five times the cost of planned work, therefore being able to show this helps you to show your value.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: PdM work is always, with little exception planned work. It is scheduled through routes, or specific planned work orders. Most PdM work does not require an asset to be down in order to perform the technology.
  • Planning and Scheduling of all work other than reactive. All work that is non reactive should be planned and scheduled. This function allows for resources to be matched to production windows of opportunity. Parts and supplies, tools, and all resources other than manpower should be planned to a specific job. Your technicians don't need to be running for parts or searching for tools and prints because that is draining and wasting their expertise. Making the most of this will greatly help in showing value.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: As is mentioned in prioritizing PdM work, almost all predictive work requires the asset be in normal functional operation. Thus, PdM is non intrusive to the business operations.
  • Managing workloads. If you are planning and scheduling all of your planned activities, you will be able to begin managing your true workloads and your manpower resources much more effectively. There will be less scrambling to get techs to jobs. You will be able to level load your PM work across a given timeframe and adjust resources accordingly. This gives you the ability to reduce costs by simple work management activities.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: Once you get the basics of PdM in place and functional, you will find that resources required for reactive maintenance and some planned maintenance are reduced. When correctly utilized, PdM will help drive effective work steps to keep assets reliable and functional.
  • Work Execution. Work that is committed and planned must be executed. If you've got production committal to release an asset for work, your team must be there to perform. Otherwise you will lose credibility and it's all down hill from there.
  • Predictive Maintenance application:
  • It is critical to any PdM program that findings are acted upon immediately and those findings must be documented for later use in showing cost avoidances.
  • Variances in work processes. Give your techs the ability to list what problems they encounter on any job. These are variances. Be able to collect and take actions to correct these problems.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: PdM work management processes will also have occasional problems related to various reasons. Give the techs the ability to tell management those problems so that they may be avoided in the future.
  • Measuring Key Process Indicators. Having a documented maintenance process allows you to measure key points within the process that allow you to gage its health. Key Process Indicators are a way to show the value of the process and the value of the maintenance organization.
  • Predictive Maintenance application: Clearly document findings and be prepared to show them to management. Identify a few KPIs specific to your PdM process and measure them. Keep cost avoidance figures in detail. There are many who believe that the term Predictive Maintenance is too tough. They say that there are many times a tech will generate findings that show imminent failure and yet when no action to correct is taken, the asset or component continues to run without failure, therefore making it tougher to convince upper management of the program's value. In a very true sense they are correct. More often than we would like, our techs will find readings that support immediate failures of assets or components. The fact is that it will take years of experience and data to truly become totally predictive with 100% accuracy. Yet the findings that do directly prevent failure are worth their weight in gold. When considering the operations cost of downtime, the corrective actions cost is minor. I believe the future lies in utilizing SCADA systems. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) allows for data collection, trending, analysis, and control of points, assets, alarms, controls, and much more. Today's PdM technologies are becoming much more sensor based, which leads to optimized maintenance processes. SCADA allows for advanced maintenance principals to be implemented. Institute the Advanced Principals of World Class Maintenance Excellence only after the foundation is solid. The focus of this paper is based on the seven foundation principals.
The basics of advanced implementation revolve around these issues:
  • Instituting Reliability in Assets and Processes
  • Understand Reliability in context to Maintenance
  • Understand that to improve Reliability in assets is different than improving Reliability in Processes

The following are some examples of what a World Class Company with Maintenance Excellence implemented would reflect:

  • Specify, design and buy assets based on life cycle cost (LCC) instead of lowest cost to buy.
  • A management team focusing on the same results
  • There is a documented reliability and maintenance policy that includes a 3 to 5 year improvement plan
  • High level of planning and scheduling
  • Correct prioritization of work
  • Preventive Maintenance/Essential Care and Condition Monitoring (PdM) content is right.
  • PM execution is 100%
  • 85% of spare parts and materials are delivered to the job site
  • Service level is 97% for the spare parts stores.
  • The technical database is 95% correct.
Basics of Maintenance are instituted:
  • Balancing
  • Cleaning of components
  • Lubrication
  • Alignment
  • Operations Practices Safety Standards are high
  • Individual training plans are developed and used
  • Craftspeople have a high level of skills and front line supervision adjusts its management style accordingly.


  • • Understand where your business is today
  • • What you need to do to change culture
  • • How implementing the seven basic principals begin to drive Maintenance Excellence, then Predictive Maintenance Excellence.
  • • Executing the plan to achieve Maintenance Excellence
  • • Plan - Create a plan
  • • Do - Execute the plan
  • • Check - Evaluate the execution of the plan
  • • Act - Take corrective actions where needed

I believe you understand that there is no simple, easy method of reaching Predictive Maintenance Excellence. Each company is different with different management styles and business goals. This paper only gives you a little insight on what it will take to show your value as a maintenance organization. True Predictive Maintenance Excellence is something that can only be achieved with hard work, and it is not easy and can be a moving target. If you truly believe that becoming a valued overhead organization is critical, then you will understand that in order to achieve it means hard work, lots of changes, and dedication. These basic seven foundation principals are a required component of Maintenance Excellence, and yet these seven are only the foundation blocks which allow effective Predictive Maintenance Excellence. These are only the start of the journey. If you can institute these seven basic principals, you will have taken the first seven steps to Maintenance Excellence. Good Luck on your journey.

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