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Predictive maintenance (PdM) techniques are designed to help determine the condition of in-service equipment in order to predict when maintenance should be performed. This approach promises cost savings over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, because tasks are performed only when warranted.
The main promise of predictive maintenance is to allow convenient scheduling of corrective maintenance, and to prevent unexpected equipment failures. The key is "the right information in the right time". By knowing which equipment needs maintenance, maintenance work can be better planned (spare parts, people, etc.) and what would have been "unplanned stops" are transformed to shorter and fewer "planned stops", thus increasing plant availability. Other potential advantages include increased equipment lifetime, increased plant safety, fewer accidents with negative impact on environment, and optimized spare parts handling.
Predictive maintenance differs from its cousin preventive maintenance because it relies on the actual condition of equipment, rather than average or expected life statistics, to predict when maintenance will be required.
PdM evaluates the condition of equipment by performing periodic or continuous (online) equipment condition monitoring. The ultimate goal of PdM is to perform maintenance at a scheduled point in time when the maintenance activity is most cost-effective and before the equipment loses performance within a threshold. This is in contrast to time- and/or operation count-based maintenance, where a piece of equipment gets maintained whether it needs it or not. Time-based maintenance is labor-intensive, ineffective in identifying problems that develop between scheduled inspections, and is not cost-effective.
The "predictive" component of predictive maintenance stems from the goal of predicting the future trend of the equipment's condition. This approach uses principles of statistical process control to determine at what point in the future maintenance activities will be appropriate.
Most PdM inspections are performed while equipment is in service, thereby minimizing disruption of normal system operations. Adoption of PdM can result in substantial cost savings and higher system reliability.
Reliability-centered maintenance, or RCM, emphasizes the use of predictive maintenance (PdM) techniques in addition to traditional preventive measures. When properly implemented, RCM provides companies with a tool for achieving lowest asset Net Present Costs (NPC) for a given level of performance and risk.
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