For manufacturers and supply chain management experts, maintenance is a natural and unavoidable part of doing business. Keeping the myriad of machines, tools, pieces of equipment, and vehicles running at optimal performance takes a dedicated effort. The effort is crucial to business success, however, downtime in any single component within an operation can lead to costly delays and missed deadlines.

Traditionally, maintenance has been handled in a reactive manner by manufacturing and supply chain organisations. When a machine or piece of equipment breaks down, it gets fixed. When a vehicle needs new fluids, they are replaced. It’s as simple as that.

While this may have been an effective approach in years past, reactive maintenance has its weak points. In a truly reactive maintenance approach, issues aren’t addressed until they become a problem, which leads to downtime and can end up being very costly indeed.

For that reason, many manufacturers and supply chain management firms have switched to a smart maintenance model.

The Smart Maintenance Model and the Technologies that Enable It

smart maintenance model

The smart maintenance model often consists of five specific approaches, each supported by specific staff, processes, and tools. Each approach is integrated with the others to ensure a comprehensive approach to overall maintenance. Each approach also requires a specific set of supporting cast members, including staff, processes, and technology.

Reactive maintenance

We’ve already discussed the first approach in the smart maintenance model – reactive maintenance. This approach requires the least amount of technology and planning but is an integral part of an overall maintenance plan. After all, no amount of forecasting or planning can predict every event – issues are bound to arise. In those cases, reactive maintenance shines.

Reactive maintenance is also a viable approach for tools and equipment that are involved in the manufacturing process, but their function isn’t critical to production. Use this approach with small items, those that are unlikely to fail, and any redundant or inexpensive items.

Reactive maintenance has been popular for so long because it is the least costly form or maintenance and requires very little supporting technology or background effort. Simply train workers to spot issues and maintain an inventory of repair parts to support the reactive maintenance approach.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is often thought of as the first maintenance approach based on data and predictive algorithms. Take changing the oil in a machine or vehicle every 3,000 miles. We do this because data shows that running an engine for more than 3,000 miles on the same oil can lead to issues.

Preventive maintenance is ideal for items that see heavy use, are expensive to replace, have many moving parts, or are critical to the to your manufacturing or supply chain operations.

For effective preventive maintenance, you need to identify a maintenance schedule and the maintenance requirements of each machine, vehicle, or piece of equipment – and a maintenance team trained in the maintenance schedule and processes. Developing your preventive maintenance plan in an ERP solution can ensure timely and accurate maintenance processes, which can lead to long-term monetary benefits.

Remote condition-based maintenance

Remote condition-based maintenance builds on the principles of the preventive approach by incorporating wireless sensors or cameras into a system that provides maintenance managers with real-time data on equipment status.

Offering the sophistication and accuracy needed to maintain even the most complex and valuable pieces of machinery and equipment, this approach can be used to monitor items that can fail without notice, as well as those that have defined operational parameters such as temperature, pressure, and air flow.

Supporting a remote condition-based maintenance program requires technology, including remote sensors and a software solution that provides data capture, notification, analytics, and reporting features. This approach also requires trained maintenance experts who can address issues identified by the system.

Predictive maintenance

Another information-driven approach, predictive maintenance involves the use of trend data to predict when a piece of equipment or machinery may require attention. Using data modeling, predictive maintenance can help you address issues before they arise and keep components operating at peak performance.

Predictive maintenance is a viable solution for items that have known failure patterns or in cases where equipment is subject to wear out.

To support a predictive maintenance approach, you need highly trained experts who understand how the principle works and can perform any identified maintenance process. You also need a technology platform capable of capturing data, analysing it, and creating easy-to-read dashboards. An ERP solution is a great option for supporting the predictive maintenance approach.

Cognitive maintenance

The highest level of smart maintenance, cognitive maintenance automates much of the maintenance process. Using smart sensors, a cognitive maintenance solution can identify an issue, inform the maintenance manager, order any necessary replacement parts, and schedule the repair, all without the input of a staff member.

Cognitive maintenance is ideal in high production facilities with numerous machines or components.

This approach does require the highest level of technological support, including an application capable of capturing and analysing data, notifying maintenance experts, and placing automated parts orders. An ERP solution with intelligent learning capabilities is an ideal foundation for cognitive maintenance.

Learn more about the benefits of smart maintenance

The smart maintenance model offers many benefits, including:

  • Maximised lifespan of machines, vehicles, equipment, buildings, and facilities
  • Reduced cost stemming from machine failures and unforeseen shutdowns
  • Improved throughput and quality
  • Increased uptime and efficiency
  • Safer working conditions for staff

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