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Should you customize your Predictive Maintenance program?

On the surface this is obviously not a very good question.  If you’re going to invest the time and money in establishing or developing a predictive maintenance (PdM) program, of course you should customize it.  Besides blind luck, there is no other way to have a successful PdM program, and I doubt many practitioners would agree that even blind luck will get you there.  That being said, I would like to explore a few of the reason that PdM customization is crucial to the success of your PdM program and the reasons why.

Equipment Criticality – This is one of the first steps that should be taken when implementing a predictive maintenance program.  Identify the assets that are most critical to your process.  Criticality can mean a variety of things, so make sure to do your due diligence on this topic.  Identifying criticality is important because it allows you to focus on the equipment that can have the biggest impact.  Also, as you will most likely be working on a budget, it provides a list of equipment that you need to develop a plan or program for, as opposed to a random equipment list.

Which Technology? – Once you’ve established your asset list, you now need to consider what technologies will provide the most relevant data for your equipment.  There is almost never a situation where one single technology will address all of your needs.  The key here is to find the technology that is most appropriate for the equipment at your facility.  There are well-known PdM best practices for a variety of different assets/equipment/components/systems, so that information is available.  Some are simple, others require more research and maybe even some help from an expert.  For instance, if you have a significant number of pumps or fans at your facility, you will most likely look into vibration analysis.  If you have something more unique, you might have to get creative and look at other technologies.

Allocate your Resources – This ties in directly with your equipment criticality and the technology (or technologies, if possible) that you decide to utilize.  Obviously the more relevant technologies that you can utilize on your assets, the more successful you can be in this endeavor.  Again, PdM programs are subject to a budget, so before you decide to have motor testing performed on EVERY motor in your facility, take a look at the cost and decide if that is best for your program.  More often than not, you will have to be more strategic than that.

Frequency – The frequency of testing/sampling is also very important to consider with your assets.  Determining the most effective frequency (based both on results and finances) can sometimes provide a challenge.   Too infrequent and you miss failures that could have been avoided.  Over testing can be a waste of time and money with no additional benefit.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you are considering your predictive maintenance or reliability program.  Remember, there is no “one size fits all” or generic program for your facility.  You need to customize a program that will provide results for you and your equipment, not for someone else’s.

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