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Preventive Maintenance vs Predictive Maintenance 

Modified on

April 21, 2023

Preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance are considered proactive maintenance because they both aim to keep equipment and systems operating smoothly rather than fixing the equipment only when it breaks down. 

Because they are proactive, both preventive and predictive maintenance can save your organization time and money by extending the life of the equipment and avoiding lost productivity because of machine downtime. 

What is Preventive Maintenance? 

Preventive maintenance, also known as preventative maintenance, covers a wide range of tasks related to the physical plant and each equipment component. A key feature is that these tasks are scheduled based on specific thresholds such as time or usage. For example, maintenance tasks might be scheduled weekly, monthly, semiannually, or annually, or planned for every 500, 1,000, or 5,000 hours of usage. Preventive maintenance is like getting the oil changed in your car at regular intervals to avoid engine problems. 

Examples of Preventive Maintenance 

Preventive maintenance occurs on the defined schedule regardless of whether the equipment shows signs of trouble. Examples of preventive maintenance are:

  • A restaurant checking its stoves and refrigerators periodically to ensure they are operating properly. 
  • A grocer cleaning meat slicers regularly. 
  • A manufacturer cleaning large equipment parts on a regular schedule. 
  • A manufacturer lubricating equipment after a certain amount of usage. 
  • An accounting firm checking its electrical system every three months to ensure it still functions optimally and complies with code standards. 

When to Use Preventive Maintenance 

You use preventive maintenance when you want to schedule maintenance tasks and can take the equipment offline for a short time without disrupting operations. Preventive maintenance also generally involves using a checklist, such as lubricating, cleaning, and calibrating equipment. Preventive maintenance is inexpensive, making implementation affordable for companies of all sizes. 

Preventive maintenance software allows you to automate the process by generating work orders and scheduling technicians on your established schedules. It can also automate checklists and photos to validate that technicians have completed the planned maintenance work. 

What is Predictive Maintenance? 

Predictive maintenance uses analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), or Artificial Intelligence to monitor equipment and detect potential malfunctions as soon as possible so you can avoid a breakdown. Measurements might include temperature, performance parameters, abnormal vibrations, or noise levels. Predictive maintenance is similar to using statistics to select a group more prone to contracting a particular disease for exams; for example, providing lung exams to people who have previously smoked. 

Examples of Predictive Maintenance 

Many industries effectively use predictive maintenance to avoid downtime. Here are some examples: 

  • A restaurant using a refrigeration sensor to evaluate vibrations or temperature and alert staff to a potential problem before it occurs. 
  • A manufacturer using Al to gather information on an industrial machine’s performance and noting when performance falls slightly out of normal range so that maintenance can be scheduled. 
  • A building manager using predictive maintenance technology to track humidity and moisture within the building for abnormalities that demonstrate a need for maintenance. 

When To Use Predictive Maintenance? 

A predictive maintenance program requires a significant investment; however, it can help you avoid making repairs before you need to. A McKinsey report predicts that predictive maintenance could save companies $630 billion by 2025. 

The best companies are using predictive maintenance on critical equipment to which they can attach sensors to provide accurate information. They also tend to use predictive maintenance on previously failed equipment since historical data is vital to machine learning. If you want to use predictive maintenance on equipment that has not failed, you can create failure models using FEMA analysis. You can also recall potential repair data from a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)

Preventive Maintenance vs Predictive Maintenance – What’s the Difference 


How Are They Different? 

Preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance differ in three important ways: 

  • Preventive maintenance occurs on schedule, regardless of the condition of the equipment, while predictive maintenance occurs only when analytics advise it. Because machines typically must be down for maintenance, using predictive maintenance on critical equipment to which you can attach sensors will keep the device operating longer. 
  • Companies can implement preventive maintenance quickly and affordably by using preventive maintenance software to automate the project. Predictive maintenance requires more training, time, and money to implement, although the potential cost savings are more significant. 
  • Predictive maintenance requires a smaller staff because machines are serviced only when analytics indicate. However, the team will require considerable technical training to interpret predictive maintenance technology effectively. 

How Are They Similar? 

Preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance are both proactive ways to maintain assets. They both also: 

  • Improve equipment reliability and availability by identifying potential problems before they cause downtime. 
  • Keep equipment operating safely by providing regular inspections or using data to pinpoint potential safety hazards before they cause injury. 
  • Reduce the costs of unplanned downtime by keeping the equipment running smoothly. 
  • Ensures regulations are followed so that the organization remains in compliance. 

Which Should I Choose? 

The choice depends on several factors, including your organization’s goals and types of assets. Predictive maintenance provides the most data, but it is expensive. It works best for companies with complex machines critical to the company’s operations and a significant budget. Although preventive maintenance often creates unnecessary planned downtime, it saves organizations money and is inexpensive to implement. For many companies, it will be the best choice. 

How Do I Get Started with Proactive Maintenance? 

The key to starting a proactive maintenance program is the right partner. ServiceChannel can provide both preventive and predictive maintenance solutions for your company. We can also help you decide which tools and services best meet your needs. 

Learn more about the ServiceChannel platform and how we can help you get ahead and stay ahead of your proactive maintenance strategy.

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