Predictive maintenance: How data can increase production

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Predictive maintenance involves gathering targeted data for analysis, the results of which will help anticipate potential failures before they occur. Companies opt for this type of maintenance to avoid predictable incidents and repair equipment, assembly lines, or machinery with minimum impact on their operations. “Having to repair a faulty product is disastrous for a manufacturer’s brand image. But shutting down machinery for random preemptive checks can also be extremely costly when you consider the production downtime. Predictive maintenance tools allow industrial companies to predict maintenance needs just in time, thus ensuring that neither breakdowns nor maintenance will slow down production,” explains Pierre-Jacques Evrard, solutions consultant with software provider TIBCO Software.

Evrard is convinced that timely action will become a competitive lever for equipment manufacturers before too long. He is careful to distinguish between this new predictive maintenance approach and preventive maintenance, which is already commonly used in industry. The latter involves performing a higher number of preemptive checks to prevent incidents that might not actually occur. “An equipment manufacturer will typically submit a preventive maintenance plan to their customers. This will be a service contract setting out a fixed maintenance schedule from the date of delivery. But this will not take accurate account of contextual data, in particular the manner in which the machinery will actually be used. You could say that this type of maintenance is too cautious: it requires too many production shutdowns resulting in unnecessary extra costs,” he claims.


A predictive maintenance solution on the other hand uses real-time data to create a progressive maintenance plan with both financial and operational benefits. Evrard notes that predictive maintenance concepts have already secured deals over conventional competitor maintenance schedules in the aircraft and helicopter manufacturing business. He mentions in particular the case of rescue aircraft, whose missions can rarely be forecasted, and which are more likely to break down as the result of salt corrosion or strong winds than the number of weeks spent in flying service. Evrard reckons that, depending on the contract, dedicated service providers could likewise replace their preventive maintenance plan with a predictive maintenance offering.

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