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Machine maintenance is the regular and necessary process of keeping machines running in good condition and ensuring that they are operational at their best. This includes everything from regular oil changes and tune-ups to more complex work, such as replacing worn parts or fixing problems that may have arisen over time.  Proper machine maintenance can help prevent costly downtime, reduce wear and tear on equipment, improve overall machine productivity, and lower the risk of workplace accidents and injuries.


It is important to have a strategy for machine maintenance. By following a plan, you can prevent costly damage and ensure that your machines are in good working condition. Some things to consider when planning your Maintenance Strategy include:

  • When do I need to service my machine?
  • What type of service should I perform?
  • How often should I service my machine?
  • What are the potential consequences of not servicing my machine?

Key types of machine maintenance

There are a variety of types of machinery maintenance that businesses can perform. Some common types of maintenance include reactive, corrective, routine and preventive maintenance. Preventative maintenance is the most important type of maintenance because it helps to avoid problems down the road. It includes regular inspections and adjustments to help keep the machinery running smoothly. Reactive and Corrective maintenance are used to fix problems that have already arisen. They often involve replacing parts or fixing malfunctions. Predictive maintenance is often required when a part has reached its lifespan and needs to be replaced before it causes any damage.

A reactive approach to your facility is a shortsighted one. It requires far less planning than proactive maintenance: no initial cost, no requirement for contingencies, and fewer regulations. But this is limited in its scope and will only delay costly problems in the future. It could also cause accidents which could lead to serious injuries.

More expensive

Unpredictable downtime during production runs can result in late orders, which can result in damaged reputations and lost revenue. As well as the unpredictable nature of reactive maintenance, organizations may also have to pay a premium for shipping parts or travelling to receive after-hours support.

Shorter asset life expectancy

System downtime due to reactive maintenance can be a growing problem over time. In a lot of cases, the cost of maintaining and reactively patching systems is far greater than the initial investment in the machine itself.

Inefficient use of time

When work is scheduled, technicians can review the standard procedures and safety requirements, completing the job more efficiently. Often as a result of this increase in risk, maintenance work is completed by technicians with a sense of urgency.

Inefficient use of time

Planned maintenance relies on having a solid production schedule, while reactive maintenance is ad hoc, and technicians spend time running around looking for the correct manuals and schematics, ordering the right parts, and trying to diagnose what happened.

Bad for backlog

When emergency repairs are given priority over regular maintenance, this often leads to a backlog of unneeded work and delays in recoveries.

Higher energy costs

When equipment is not maintained, it uses more energy, and simple things like greasing moving parts or changing filters can reduce energy consumption by 15%.

The simplest maintenance strategy is to execute a “run-to-failure maintenance” practice, in which assets are allowed to operate until they break down and then they are taken care of. There is no preventive maintenance done before the system breaks down; but when it does, a plan is in place for an emergency fix.

Using the run-to-fail plan, you will want to invest in spare parts and staff members. This strategy is useful for assets that break down and don’t cause any safety risks and will only effect your production minimally.

A run-to-failure maintenance plan would be the routine for a light bulb that is able to break in any time. When it breaks, the light bulb will be replaced with new units.

Corrective maintenance is any task done to correct a problem and return the asset to productive working order. These tasks can be either planned or unplanned.

The 3 times corrective maintenance is used are

  • When an issue is found during condition monitoring
  • When an inspection uncovers a potential issue
  • When a piece of machinery or equipment breaks down
Routine machinery maintenance is important to keep your equipment running smoothly. It can prevent major disruptions and losses, and it can save you time and money. Here are some examples routine maintenance tasks:
  • Checking oil levels and topping them off as needed
  • Flushing out systems and filters
  • Replacing worn or damaged parts
  • Adjusting timing or settings

Preventive machinery maintenance is a process that is used to keep machinery running smoothly and without any issues. It is important to perform this process on a regular basis to avoid problems down the road. When preventive machinery maintenance is done correctly, it can save you money and prevent damage to your equipment. There are several different types of preventive machinery maintenance that you can do to keep your equipment running smoothly. Some of these include greasing and lubrication, checking bearings, replacing parts as needed, and cleaning the machine.

There are three main types of preventive maintenance: usage-based triggers, time-based triggers, and condition-based triggers. A variation of these types of preventive maintenance should ideally be scheduled and performed on all items of equipment to prevent unplanned failures. Manufacturers often provide recommendations on how best to maintain equipment. Along with real-time data insights, your maintenance team can schedule preventive maintenance using the appropriate type of preventive maintenance. Below are examples of each type of preventive maintenance.

Time-based preventive maintenance

Schedule preventive maintenance tasks that can be checked for a particular time interval. Examples include a monthly inspection and periodic inspections every three months.

Usage-based preventive maintenance

A usage-based preventive maintenance trigger uses data such as number of kilometres, hours or production cycles to schedule a maintenance action. With a motor vehicle such as this example, this preventive maintenance is scheduled every 10,000km.

Condition based preventive maintenance

Condition based maintenance is a form of proactive maintenance. It's a proactive strategy that monitors the actual condition of an asset to determine which maintenance tasks need to be done. The condition based plan dictates that maintenance should only be performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing performance or upcoming failure. For example, preventive maintenance will be scheduled when the vibration on a certain component reaches a certain threshold, indicating that it should be replaced or lubricated.

With CBM, maintenance is only performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing service or impending failure. This method involves checking a machine's performance through non-invasive measurements, visual inspection, performance data and scheduled tests. Data gathered from internal sensors can be used to make decisions about an asset's condition and the maintenance strategy can be applied to critical as well as non-critical assets.

Unlike planned maintenance (PM), the condition of the equipment is monitored using condition sensors and an AI to analyze data. With this system, there is a lower chance of missing an issue if it appears. Maintenance can be done on an as-needed basis, because a decrease machinery's condition can be monitored. Condition-based maintenance is different from preventive maintenance because it only happens as needed, so there will be less repairs.

For condition-based maintenance to be successful, it’s important to also have other key elements in place such as having a scheduled maintenance strategy that allows you to inspect and spot anomalies in equipment, and trigger timely follow-up work orders. If you want to take the next step and predict which work orders will lead to asset failure, check out what AI-powered work order reports can do for you. Having the right parts and supplies on hand when problems are identified is also important. To forecast your parts use your historical data and artificial intelligence.

Predictive maintenance is a technique that uses data analysis tools and techniques to detect anomalies in your operation and possible defects in equipment, which enables you to fix them before they result in failures.

Predictive maintenance allows the maintenance frequency to be as low as possible with proactive predictive maintenance, at the expense of reactive preventive maintenance.

How does it work?

Predictive maintenance uses historical and real-time data from various parts of your operation to anticipate problems before they happen. There are three main areas of your organization that factor into predictive maintenance:

  • The way predictive maintenance uses big data analytics
  • How predictive maintenance is changing the way companies operate
  • Benchmarking MRO inventory usage

There are several key elements to predictive maintenance with technology and software being one of these critical pieces. Namely, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and integrated systems allow for different assets and systems to connect, work together and share, analyze, and act on data more effectively.

These methods use sensors to get information and make sense of it. They have been used technology in some fields like vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation. To read more about these methods, checkout our condition-based maintenance page

If a company is choosing to use condition monitoring, then the question of which technique would be most effective should go to equipment manufacturers and the condition monitoring experts.

How predictive maintenance can help

Predictive maintenance of processes saves money and downtime thanks to machines being fixed before the need for repair. This is because more time can be saved when failures are identified early. Hence, predictive maintenance reduces resources used through increased efficiency and fewer inefficiencies.

  • Minimizing downtimes and minimizing repair costs
  • Administering a predictive maintenance system
  • When to budget for predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance programs have been shown to lead to a tenfold increase in ROI, a 25%-30% reduction in maintenance costs, a 70%-75% decrease of breakdowns, and a 35%-45% reduction in downtime.

The potential cost savings are significant, though they come at a price. Some quality-monitoring techniques are expensive and require specialist and experienced personnel to make them effective.