Types of Maintenance in the Manufacturing Industry Explained

Industrial maintenance is one of the most important internal processes for all manufacturers. Ensuring that all machines and devices are in perfect working other is a must, as faulty machinery results in long downtimes and potential losses in revenue. 

Generally speaking, there are five different types of industrial maintenance, and each type offers some benefits and comes with some downsides.

Stay with us as we explain each of these types in more detail to help you find the best maintenance strategies for your business. Some strategies are corrective while others are preventive or predictive, so let’s look at each type in more detail.

Importance of Industrial Maintenance

Industrial maintenance is one of the most important factors that can determine the entire company’s success. Making sure that all machines and devices are working correctly is essential. Otherwise, businesses risk complete machine failure, which leads to long downtimes, expensive repairs, and many other problems. 

That’s why maintenance efforts have to be done on time. Maintenance costs are among the largest expenses every manufacturer has to cover. 

Even when performed before a catastrophic failure, maintenance can be expensive and halt production until the repairs are completed. Long downtimes bite into profits, and in case of complications, it can lead to massive additional costs.

Manufacturers everywhere are struggling to maintain machinery without stopping production completely. That led to a few different types of maintenance that all focus on reducing downtimes and costs while increasing profits. 

Until recently, most maintenance efforts were either planned or preventive, but new digital technologies became available, redefining maintenance from the ground up. 

5 Types of Industrial Maintenance

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is traditionally one of the most popular methods for maintaining machinery. It’s also one of the simplest techniques because it depends on defect detection. 

Corrective maintenance is performed only when an operation identifies a faulty piece of equipment. The goal is to make the machine work correctly again, so once it begins to show signs of malfunction, the machine stops working until it’s fixed.

Corrective maintenance can be both planned and unplanned, depending on internal management. Unplanned corrective maintenance is reactive maintenance, where the machine is repaired the moment it fails. 

Technicians work immediately, removing all problems and ensuring that the machine is in perfect working order once again. 

The downside to this type of maintenance is the costs. Even if the repair itself isn’t that expensive, the long downtimes and complete production halt can result in huge losses. Not to mention that this type of approach often includes unforeseen costs and other complications. 

Manufacturers that take a preventive approach can’t anticipate every failure since most machines have thousands of parts and c components. They might reduce downtimes with a preventative approach, but the repairs still have to be done while the machines are not working.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is precisely the opposite of reactive maintenance. Instead of waiting for a machine to stop working to make repairs, this approach is planned and executed before any breakdown happens. 

The goal here is to prevent machinery from breaking down completely and replace worn-out parts while the machine is still working.

However, engineers and repair crews have to track past failures and identify the weakest parts for this approach to work. 

Historical data is also needed to understand how much time has to pass for a part to break down. Once they know that, the engineers can replace essential parts before a breakdown.

As mentioned earlier, preventive maintenance is a type of planned maintenance because it’s based on accurate data. It can work together with a computerized maintenance management system or CMSS, which monitors all machines and identifies the ones that need maintenance. 

CMMS is an excellent manufacturing software solution that allows companies to track all assets, operations, and processes in real-time. Once it analyzes the entire system, it notifies the maintenance teams and provides all the details. 

Preventive maintenance is much better than reactive maintenance as it comes with shorter downtimes. However, setting up a CMSS system can be expensive and complicated, so it might not be the best option for small and medium-sized companies.

Predetermined Maintenance

Predetermined maintenance is the most established type of industrial maintenance. It doesn’t rely on the state of the machinery but rather an internal program set up by the manufacturer. 

Similar to preventive maintenance, this approach also uses historical data to identify the exact times when machines break down.

The problem with this approach is the state and age of the machinery. The program is applied the same to all machines, which can sometimes result in machinery failure. 

If the machine is older than the program’s one, it might experience a catastrophic failure before the maintenance is performed. In other words, it doesn’t guarantee that the machine won’t break down before the maintenance takes place. 

Programs based on failure statistics are the reason for that, rather than the actual state of the machine.  

Condition-Based Maintenance

Condition-based maintenance is one of the most complicated techniques to set up. It’s designed to prevent machine failures by regularly checking the machinery’s state and the most important system indicators. 

All machines have to be connected to a single network with constant access to operational data for it to work. Maintenance engineers check the data regularly and look at the state of essential parts. They do that to identify problems before a catastrophic breakdown happens.

While it’s hard to implement, once in place, condition-based maintenance is one of the most cost-efficient approaches available. Since engineers will check up on all essential parts and machines, they will only repair those needed to be replaced. 

That way, the company won’t have to purchase all replacement parts in advance. Instead, they will only pay for the parts that need to be replaced, allowing companies to save money in the long run. 

Predictive Maintenance

All options we covered above are still used by manufacturers everywhere, but those going through a digital transformation can take things to a whole new level. For example, the latest type of maintenance called predictive maintenance is much more accurate and the best option so far.

However, to take a predictive approach to maintenance, the entire manufacturing plant has to be connected to a single artificial intelligence governed system. 

That is done by placing Internet of Things (IoT) sensors across the entire production line. These sensors collect operational data in real-time and send it to the AI for further analysis. 

Once the data is analyzed, the AI in charge can accurately predict the exact failure point for every machine and part. 

Knowing when a machine will stop working correctly is followed by all kinds of benefits. For example, manufacturers don’t have to invest in spare parts at all. Instead, they simply have to buy the parts needed to make the repairs. 

However, the biggest benefit to predictive maintenance is short planned downtimes and zero unplanned downtime. 

While this approach is by far the most effective, it’s also the most expensive, as it requires multiple high-end technologies to work, including AI, IoT, cloud computing, some CMMS types, and others. 

As such, it’s still reserved for the largest enterprises, but we expect to see it become more affordable soon.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that there are many different approaches to maintenance in manufacturing. The type you choose largely depends on the needs of the company and the available budget. 

The good news is that analytic tools and new manufacturing software solutions are slowly becoming the norm among manufacturers everywhere.

Predictive maintenance is by far the best option, but since it’s still costly, it’s not available for most small and medium-sized businesses. 

However, as the technology keeps improving, predictive maintenance will become the most dominant type of maintenance in the following years.

Author bio:

Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. His work is focusing on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.

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