Predictive Maintenance - Historical review

Article | 5 Apr 2021

In order to gain some perspective on modern maintenance programs, we will look at the history of maintenance practices a little more closely.

The earliest type of maintenance was run-to-failure, where the machine was run until a fault caused it to fail in service. This is obviously an expensive approach, with the major part of the cost being the unpredictability of the machine condition. It is surprising to learn how much of present day maintenance activity is of this type.

Eventually, maintenance people hit on the idea of periodic preventive maintenance, where machines are disassembled and overhauled on regular schedules. The theory is that if machines are overhauled before their expected service life is exceeded, they will not break down in service. Preventive maintenance has been around for a long time, but became much more prominent in the early 1980s, as we will see.

In the last ten years, predictive maintenance has become popular, where the machine is repaired only when it is known to have a fault. Smoothly running machines are not interfered with, on the theory that you shouldn’t “fix it if it ain’t broke”.

The most recent innovation in maintenance is called pro-active, and it includes a technique called “root cause failure analysis”, in which the primary cause of the machine failure is sought and corrected.

We will evaluate these various maintenance philosophies shortly.

SymphonyAI Industrial provides products, software & services for Predictive Maintenance including vibration analysis instruments, wireless vibration monitoring, asset performance management and process health and optimization.

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