Introducing the PdM Team

Allow me to introduce the Predictive Maintenance (PdM) Team. We are the silent service branch of the Maintenance Department. Even though everyone has heard of us, many don’t notice our presence and only a few really understand our capabilities and function within the Operations Department. You could call us the Proactive Maintenance and Reliability Team.  

We work a different schedule from the Maintenance Department. The shift techs and project crew work on your equipment when it is shut down (planned or breakdown). Production and Maintenance must both “compete” for time spent with the equipment. Only one can have the machine at a time, as laid-out by a carefully organized schedule. PdM activities, on the other hand, are “non-intrusive.” We collect vibration data on machinery at the same time that operators are using the equipment. We analyze the graphical data from the equipment’s vibration patterns to diagnose the condition of the machine. The vast majority of equipment failures occur slowly and without notice over several months’ time. We continue to evaluate the machine’s condition, and when it degrades beyond a moderate level of failure, we submit a work request to the planner, well in advance of the imminent failure. This gives him ample time to order parts, plan, schedule and complete the necessary maintenance repairs (all in a calm manner), before anyone in Production ever knew that they had a problem! The very nature of our job is a “Catch-22”. The better we are at our job, the more it seems like we are not needed.

Because we are not in the spotlight of the high-profile catastrophes, it is often assumed that our daily work routine does not provide the best value to Operations, and that our efforts could be redirected to other more important repairs and emergencies. On the contrary! Consider this analogy: we are the silent lightning rods that protect your home (equipment) from danger, and the shift techs are the EMT and fire departments that quickly respond at a moment’s notice, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. When they arrive in your production area, there’s trouble – you’ve suffered a direct hit by lightning and everything is on fire. They are recognized on a daily basis for providing the valuable service of putting out the fire, reviving the victim’s heart, cleaning up the wreckage and patching the hole in the roof. They get everything back to “normal” and everyone thanks them for a job well done.

When you see the PdM techs taking vibration data on your machine, you know that your insurance is paid up and you are being protected by the lightning rods – you won’t have to suffer the pain of receiving a direct lightning strike! However, we are people, and human nature values the short-term results. The shift techs are seen as the hometown heroes while the PdM team is often viewed as the “costly monthly insurance bill” that is delivered in the mail. Both teams do a great job at keeping production running. But from a business standpoint, it is unquestionably better to prevent the lightning strike than to go through the physical and emotional trauma of having your house destroyed by lightning and then repaired – only to repeat the process over and over again from multiple hits.

The cost and associated protection of the lightning rod is insignificant compared to the cost of not having one and experiencing just one strike. Wouldn’t it be better to be proactive and install a lightning rod on every home (machine) than to be reactive by building and staffing a fire and rescue station in every neighborhood (building)? From the day you install that lightning rod, it does its job dependably and reliably every day - yet it can easily be viewed as doing nothing at all.

When the Predictive Maintenance Team does its job effectively, improved equipment reliability increases production availability. In addition, long-term maintenance operating costs decrease as a result of fewer breakdowns, better planning and systematically designing-out known equipment faults identified by Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) methods. When you acknowledge the role and value of your PdM Team, everyone benefits!


Predictive Maintenance Team Mission Statement:

Our goal is to help our internal customers serve their customers by turning factual information into intelligent business solutions. We will accomplish this by integrating the strengths of engineering principles with all the available technologies of Conditon-Based Monitoring (CBM).

The expected outcome is increased production availability, resulting from improved equipment reliability. Long-term maintenance costs are expected to decrease as a result of fewer breakdowns, better planning and systematically designing out known equipment faults identified by Root Cause Analysis (RCA).


© Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.


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