Industrial Maintenance: I am sure you’ve heard this term before. But what is need of maintenance in industry and why invest in maintenance activities? In this article, we’ll guide you through the importance of industrial maintenance and explain what you need to know. [Updated 2021]


What is Industrial Maintenance?


Let’s begin with the core of what is Industrial Maintenance. According to the Wikipedia definition, “The technical meaning of maintenance involves functional checks, servicing, repairing, or replacing of necessary devices, equipment, machinery, building infrastructure, and supporting utilities in industrial, business, and residential installations.”


For asset-intensive industries, industrial maintenance is important for sustaining reliable performance of instruments and machinery, safety, energy efficiency, regulatory compliance, and warranty coverage. In addition, preventive maintenance can have a significant impact to the costs of operation as opposed to reactively dealing with a problem when it occurs.


To fully understand this, let’s look at the different concepts of industrial maintenance as they go beyond “preventive” and “reactive”.



What are Types of Industrial Maintenance?


Planning industrial maintenance in advance is important to maintaining both the quality of the equipment and the quality of the final product. These days, there are computer applications to help planners and schedulers perform their job quickly and efficiently – allocating the appropriate people and resources based on the level of priority and equipment availability for maintenance work.


A company’s maintenance process must be in accordance with the company's policies, safety and regulatory compliance requirements, and asset-driven needs. Most of these requirements can be met with preventive maintenance strategies. Since there are many different types of industrial maintenance that can be applied, let’s level set with some definitions.



Types of Preventive or Planned Maintenance


  1. Preventive Maintenance is also called Scheduled Maintenance and is intended to prevent major failures from occurring with a well-defined, periodic maintenance plan. The plan consists of maintenance tasks that are scheduled based on time or based on asset-usage, like changing the oil in your car every 5,000 miles.

    By performing regular preventive maintenance tasks such as inspections, cleaning, lubrication and minor adjustments, minor problems can be detected and corrected before they become a major problem and cause a costly production shutdown.

    Preventive maintenance is most often used for assets that fail on a regular basis based on historical records of the mean time between failure (MTBF). It is also used to replace consumables such as oil.

    The downside of preventive maintenance is that parts may be replaced before they even start to wear and there’s always a chance of collateral damage from conducting the maintenance work itself. This is why predictive maintenance was developed.
  1. Predictive Maintenance is considered a type of preventive maintenance and is done through constant equipment monitoring and data gathering – and then using that data to predict and pre-empt equipment failure.

    Equipment monitoring is conducted with technologies that capture data on the assets condition such as infrared thermography, acoustic monitoring, vibration monitoring, or oil-debris analysis. This makes predictive maintenance a form of condition-based maintenance.
    The technologies used are considered artificial intelligence (AI) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices which (when used with maintenance software) support the monitoring, data analysis and triggering of the maintenance task.

    Companies invest in technology to conduct predictive maintenance for critical assets that fail randomly (or are subject to failure from preventive maintenance). Thus, predictive maintenance mitigates some of the downsides of scheduled preventive maintenance.

    The downside of predictive maintenance is cost, learning curve and integration of the data into standard processes, but worth the investment for the right use cases.

  2. Proactive Maintenance like predictive maintenance, is a form of condition-based maintenance where the emphasis is on the root cause of problems with the goal of extending the machine life. Where predictive maintenance is looking for symptoms of pending failure, proactive maintenance is looking at things like oil viscosity to ensure effective lubrication of moving parts or how to properly load a piece of equipment to avoid a problem.
  3. Prescriptive Maintenance takes predictive maintenance a step further by not only identifying the condition change, but also provides recommendations to resolve the problem. For example, a vibration sensor identifies a problem. Prescriptive technologies recommend that the equipment be slowed down to a certain degree to extend production time before the asset will likely fail.
  4. Detective Maintenance is both the evaluation of assets that are working and to determine the root cause of failure when an asset breaks down. It is not condition-based maintenance, as the intention is not to look for signs of a potential failure, but to test if the asset is working properly. For example, you test presumably operational fire extinguishers and smoke detectors to ensure they are working. Whereas the preventive maintenance task is replacing the battery in the smoke detector.

    After an asset has failed, detective maintenance is conducted to determine why and capture information to be fed into the preventive maintenance program.
  5. Run-to-failure maintenance is a planned, reactive maintenance strategy designed to minimize costs. Organizations may choose a run-to-failure strategy for things like disposable assets (machines with disposable parts meant to be swapped out rather than repaired), non-critical assets like tools, durable assets or assets that aren't subject to wear and/or unlikely to fail under normal operating conditions, also assets that show random failure patterns that can't be predicted.

Types of Reactive or Unplanned Maintenance


Reactive Maintenance is performed after a break, fail or crash and is intended to correct the problem in order to return the asset to duty. There are several categories of reactive maintenance with a few noted here:

  1. Corrective Maintenance is intended to improve the working condition of the machine. It is performed when a malfunction is detected, and the machine is not operating properly as per the designated function.
  2. Breakdown Maintenance is carried out when your equipment has a breakdown and is not working. In Breakdown maintenance, production is affected.

Why do you Need Industrial Maintenance?


Certainly, you can’t take the tact that everything can just run-to-failure and be replaced. The risk to employee’s safety and risk to production stoppage are enough to warrant a planned maintenance program. Here are some additional benefits of preventive industrial maintenance:

  • Increased safety through reducing the risk of injuries, fatalities, and therefore liability, due to asset breakdown or problems.
  • Prevent costly downtime events which can disrupt production and result in lost business.
  • Extend the useful lifespan of assets and increase their resale value at end-of-life.
  • Reduce maintenance costs since repairs can be far more expensive than the cost of preventive maintenance work. The old adage is true, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In fact, a key maintenance effectiveness metric is the ratio of planned vs. unplanned maintenance.
  • Keep assets running to meet schedule and budget commitments.
  • Reduce energy consumption and operating costs.
  • Retain warranty coverage with detailed service records to demonstrate adherence to recommended maintenance requirements.

So, What is Industrial Maintenance?


The reality is that it is a combination of all of these types of maintenance activities. In fact, an advanced industrial maintenance strategy is Reliability Centered Maintenance, where the maintenance approach type is determined for each asset in order to maximize uptime while optimizing costs and resources.


Sigga Blog - Reliability Centered Maintenance Approaches

The need of maintenance in industry is clear, the real question is how to optimize your maintenance approaches to achieve your operational goals. To get started, consider a partner experienced in helping companies make progress in advancing their maintenance processes.



How Sigga Can Help


Here at Sigga, we have been helping asset-intensive industries with SAP to advance their industrial maintenance programs for 20 years. We provide software solutions to automate routines steps in the maintenance planning and scheduling process, plus mobile solutions to support the end-to-end tasks in maintenance and warehouse management.


At Sigga, it is our mission to empower companies to achieve their mobile digital transformation goals by providing best-in-class software technology.

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Read more about Sigga and our portfolio of solutions for Asset-Intensive Industries.