Four Reasons Why Reactive Maintenance is Costing You Money
For many business leaders, the case for investing in predictive maintenance tools and strategies isn't always apparent – especially when faced with making an upfront investment before assets fail or need replacement. Over the long term, however, a reactive maintenance plan that waits until an asset breaks may actually increase your repair and maintenance costs.
While reactive maintenance requires no upfront investment – and thus, short-term savings – this strategy is becoming increasingly costly for asset owners. Here are four ways in which this outdated maintenance paradigm is costing your business money right now.
Worse equipment damage means greater repair costs
If you're letting your assets run to the point of failure before you repair them, you could be putting your equipment at risk for substantial damage. Generally what happens is that a specific component or subassembly starts to wear down from inclement environmental conditions, improper operation, a manufacturer's defect or just wear and tear from routine use.
Left unchecked and unrepaired, a single component can lead to a domino effect of failures that debilitate the asset as a whole. A broken piston in an engine could force the entire apparatus to seize up. A fan functioning at a suboptimal level could lead to overheating that compromises the entire asset.
If you're relying on reactive maintenance, you would never catch these details, and your assets would sustain much more severe damage than they would have if the issue had been caught in its early stages. Naturally, this forces you to pay more for repairs; because the breakdown wasn't planned, you may pay a premium for rush delivery of spare parts as well as increased labor costs for any overtime incurred by your maintenance team.
Accurate scheduling and planning is more difficult
When you have a reactive maintenance environment, you're essentially betting on your asset's continued health even though you have little or no evidence that it will sustain optimal uptime reliability. If you have a production run scheduled and a critical asset breaks down, everything else will be backed up while you handle these unscheduled repairs. If you can't have predictable scheduling and planning, very few of your other strategic moves may have any positive impact.
In industries ranging from oil and gas and utilities to life sciences and industrial manufacturing, there has been a massive shift from labor-intensive operations to capital-intensive ones. Essentially, businesses are more dependent on their physical assets now than they've ever been. Downtime, then, can be catastrophic if a key piece of production machinery gets knocked offline unexpectedly and for an extended period of time.
Competing globally means being able to meet or exceed customer deadlines as often as possible. Setbacks caused by late shipments are rarely tolerated over the long term, and if you're constantly missing deadlines, your relationships with your customers could be deteriorating.
Noncompliance with regulations is costly
Failure to adhere to safety, quality and environmental standards can have an adverse impact on a company's financial results, depending on the severity of the transgressions. An asset performing at a suboptimal level could negatively impact the quality of the product being made, which could lead to fines in heavily regulated industries such as pharmaceutical or automotive manufacturing.
Additionally, worker safety can be compromised by an underperforming piece of equipment. For example, an asset that exhibits excessive vibration can lead to musculoskeletal injuries for the operator, or it could send debris flying. In other cases, a machine that overheats can be a fire hazard or cause burns if someone touches it. Failure to take action until the asset reaches the breaking point may result in personal injury and/or death, as well as litigation, and impact a production run.
While predictive maintenance is not a guarantee that your operations will meet all relevant compliance standards, it can increase your chances of avoiding common missteps that may result in legal actions against the company.
You won't maximize the life cycle of your assets
The goal of enterprise asset management and predictive maintenance is to maximize the lifetime value of your physical assets at a reasonable cost. This means that every part of the asset life cycle, from design and operation to maintenance and disposal, must be done with the objective of getting the most out of the asset.
A predictive maintenance strategy is instrumental to achieving this goal because it allows you to perform maintenance when the cost to you may be at its lowest. If you perform unnecessary maintenance – which preventative maintenance can be if it's done based on a fixed schedule and not on the asset's true condition – you will incur labor and material costs that you may not have needed to incur. On the other hand, letting the asset fail completely and then performing reactive maintenance comes with some steep costs as well.
Predictive maintenance helps you perform maintenance when it's essential for the asset's health and when it's most cost-effective.