Editor’s Note: A Crystal Ball for Machinery

Predictive maintenance could be a life-altering experience — well, your manufacturing life, at least. Turning maintenance needs into a just-in-time chore would result in more production uptime.  Eliminating the need for shutting down a line simply to perform regularly scheduled maintenance that may not be really necessary could have cascading ramifications.

What if you could tell the future? Yes, you’d be rich, very rich. How about the next best thing: Knowing when a piece of machinery or equipment is about to break down? Predictive maintenance could be just as much an altering experience.

As Big Data continues to grow, so too will predictive analytics and its ability to detect failure patterns from machine logs, quality reports, and unstructured data and then warn production managers in real time. LNS Research writes that predictive maintenance is still in its early development stages, but the possibility of making scheduled (and likely unneeded) maintenance a thing of the past in favor of just-in-time maintenance — right before the machine goes off tolerance, resulting in more uptime — is too good for manufacturers not to begin exploring.

Predictive maintenance could have a big impact on OEM and MRO parts buying, putting some bona fide muscle behind blanket purchase orders, which procurement writer Kelly Barner covers. No longer would more than a minimum number of spares for production machinery have to be carried, and replacement-part deliveries become JIT. Maintenance engineers and material planners/buyers can live in harmony and bask in shared credit for cost-control efforts. Driven by predictive condition monitoring, inventory management is simplified, unnecessary maintenance is eliminated, costs go down, and profits go up. Maybe predictive maintenance could make you rich after all.
William Ng, Editor-in-Chiefwng@thomasnet.com


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  • Hans-Jochen Trost
    August 5, 2014

    The problem is that now the scheduling of the maintenance becomes (more) unpredictable because it depends on the whim of the machine, and scheduling urgent production runs may be negatively affected. There is no free lunch.

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