KCF Technologies Blog

How to go from reacting to failures to predicting failures in your factory

Most factories in the U.S. are still way behind where they could be with predictive maintenance, and understandably so!

Predictive Maintenance technologies such as ultrasound, alignment tools and vibration monitoring have traditionally been expensive and complicated to learn. As a result, many factory workers are stuck with maintenance schedules similar to those used a generation ago. However, some factories have found ways to minimize up-front predictive maintenance investments and leapfrog a century of old habits.
How are these industry leaders, often on a tight budget, catapulting their factory into the 21st Century? Here are some of their best practices:

Think beyond hard hats, exit door locations, and cautioning people to not trip over the projector cables. To what extent do your safety meetings cover predictive maintenance? Show your colleagues some of the graphs from last week’s post. Remind them how dangerous it is to “respond” to emergencies. Celebrate the fires that never started as much as you celebrate the fires that your maintenance team had to rush out and extinguish.

Educate your boss on the difference between preventive and predictive maintenance. Preventive and predictive maintenance are terms that are often used interchangeably, yet they represent two very different approaches.

Preventive maintenance is work you do based on factors like the age of the machine and how long it’s been in use. It’s comparable to changing the oil in your truck every 5,000 miles. You do it because the manufacturer recommends it. However, replacing parts when there is no need can result in unnecessary maintenance and costs.

Here’s something that made us think twice about the value of preventive maintenance: A United Airlines study found that 89 percent of all failures are random. Meaning, you can have the best preventive maintenance practices in the world but that will only protect 11 percent of machine failures.

Predictive maintenance is determined by the condition of equipment rather than the time it’s been used. Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) is the heart of predictive maintenance. Imagine the fatal blows you’ll deliver to safety hazards, downtime and missed deliveries when your team can identify an issue, schedule the repair and complete the work weeks or months in advance of when an imminent failure occurs.

Shift 15 percent of your maintenance budget from reactive (such as stockpiling spare parts or paying loads of overtime for the Saturday repair at 3 a.m.) to predictive technologies. By doing so, you can reduce reactive maintenance by more than 50 percent. For example, leading oil & gas companies with whom our company works are routinely saving more than $30 each month for every $1 they invest in predictive maintenance.  You don’t have to make drastic shifts in your maintenance budget to see drastic improvements in safety and bottom line profits.

What are some tips you have for inspiring senior management to support the shift from reactive to predictive maintenance?

KCF Technologies is an engineering company founded in 2000 and based in Central Pennsylvania. Its latest breakthrough is a wireless sensor system that notifies you when a machine is going to fail before it actually does. It’s called SmartDiagnostics. Organizations taking advantage of this new technology are seeing significant improvements in safety, uptime and profitability.

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