Reactive or predictive maintenance to minimise breakdowns?

ReLog vibration data logger
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The key takeaways

Why should you measure vibrations?

Unexpected faults and disruptions in machines and critical equipment can lead to catastrophic downtime in production or, in the worst case, damage to employees and the machines themselves. Vibration-based maintenance work is a proven method for knowing in good time when machines need maintenance and how to prioritize your maintenance work.

The demands for increased efficiency and productivity all too often lead to machines and assets being pushed to the maximum and the risks of defects and downtime increase exponentially. Add to that additional complexity as a production line usually consists of machines acquired at different times and all of which have different maintenance needs. Dealing with such a situation requires a good structure and a well-developed maintenance plan where vibration measurements become a natural part of the work to go from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance.

To meet these challenges, we at ReVibe Energy have developed ReLog, a vibration data logger that we see as the perfect measuring instrument for maintenance teams that work with vibration measurements in dirty and challenging environments but can not compromise on measurement quality and precision. We have developed ReLog to make it as easy as possible to use for everyone, regardless of background and competence – we promise that you will be up and running within 10 minutes of opening the package!

But, before we get to looking at the instrument we at ReVibe believe you would benefit from using, let us take a look at the different approaches of maintenance.

Different maintenance approaches

There are numerous ways of using vibration monitoring to maintain your machines and assets to prevent breakdowns. All of these methods are traditionally performed in a time-based manner where measurements are performed at fixed intervals (preventive maintenance) OR by methods referred to as corrective maintenance, which is when you start addressing an error when it occurs. Let us compare the different approaches in a structured way for you to get a good overview of the different approaches:

  1. Reactive maintenance
  2. Preventive maintenance
  3. Predictive maintenance

Reactive maintenance

So, reactive maintenance is the most simple approach of them all. And it’s quite easy to grasp: simply fix a problem when it occurs and prioritize your resources depending on the severity of the problem. And to be completely honest, it’s not a good approach that you should avoid at every cost if you know that you will lose a lot of money by suffering from a breakdown 

Conclusion: 

This is not an approach that we would recommend for any company unless you know that you have the flexibility to survive breakdowns and be able to fix the problem in a short amount of time. If you can do this (hats off to you!) you can probably survive from using reactive maintenance.

Preventive maintenance

This is where it starts to get interesting! Preventive maintenance is the craft of setting up a routine-based schedule that dictates when maintenance should be made to avoid unplanned breakdowns. This means that you should be working with different forms of maintenance to detect potential failure modes and ensure that your machines won’t be breaking down. 

Skeptics might at this stage point out that routine-based maintenance can cause ‘unnecessary maintenance to be performed, i.e. taking a look at the machines and potentially replacing spare parts even when the machine is working as it should. And this is true, there might be a few unnecessary replacements being made but the question should be asked: are the cost of the spare parts bigger than the cost of an unplanned breakdown? Most likely not. Hence, we would recommend using this approach over using reactive maintenance. 

So, what should you do during your maintenance routines? What should you measure and inspect? Well, this is of course something that only can be answered if we could take a look at your processes but in general, we are strong believers in vibration-based maintenance as vibration measurements tell you a great deal about your machines. 

We recommend that you start using vibration-based monitoring by mounting sensors (like the ReLog) to machines during your routines to periodically check the status of the machine or asset. Then go ahead to view the measurements and measure against the most recent measured value and see if any deviations have occurred. If any abnormal deviations occur, this is a warning that you should speed up your maintenance efforts and replace affected parts. To do this, we suggest you follow these 3 simple steps:

  • Measure vibrations continuously and establish a baseline of what is considered to be good and healthy machines or assets
  • Monitor deviations over time and decide upon what is considered normal and establish this as an acceptable standard deviation
  • Establish warning and danger levels above these standard deviations to determine when you need to act and replace affected parts
Vibration values

Conclusion: 

Preventive maintenance is a big step up from reactive maintenance and is most often the level of maintenance that most companies should aim to establish themselves of when they start working more actively with maintenance. By creating a routine-based schedule, a lot has been gained as the mindset of the company now has been changed to acting proactively rather than reactively. And that, according to us at least, is the most important thing. 

Predictive maintenance

While looking at predictive maintenance, we are taking a big step in terms of complexity but also in terms of how much there is to gain in terms of avoiding breakdowns.

And the key to getting started with predictive maintenance is the amount of data and ensuring that new data is being collected regularly. One option to do this is to acquire a complete online monitoring system. A second one is to start collecting measurement data more frequently and starting to apply different forms of analysis to the data to be able to identify trends in the data. By using more measurement data and analyzing that trend data, you will allow yourself to identify deviations earlier than what is possible when using the preventive maintenance approach.

Calculation example - how much would a breakdown cost you?

It’s time to take a look at some actual numbers and how much money you can save by using one of the approaches above. Below, we have created a simple calculator where you can input your numbers to get an overview of how much money you potentially are losing during a breakdown.

And to make this as real as possible, we have also illustrated an example from one of our customers and how the ReLog and routine-based maintenance schedules help them avoid breakdowns.

Cost of a breakdown - calculator

Example from a customer

Our customer has purchased the ReLog vibration data logger and has implemented a routine-based maintenance schedule and collects vibration measurements regularly. The maintenance crew has isolated a few key machines in their manufacturing line where breakdowns are most common and performs measurements regularly to gather enough data to be able to identify trends and potential failures in the data.

See the table below for a comparison of the costs for getting their routine-based maintenance up and running compared to the cost of a single failure in the manufacturing process.

cost of single breakdownInvestment for routine-maintenance
Labour costs250 €
Cost of spare parts400 €
Cost of lost productivity25 000 € (5 hours of downtime at 5000 € / hour)
ReLog vibration data logger2595 €
Labour cost for routine-maintenance500 € / week
Summary25 650 € 4595 € (assuming 4 weeks
of measurements to predict the failure)

Conclusion

As can be seen above, our client estimates costs of 25 650 € per breakdown whilst the purchase of one ReLog and the labour cost for measurement and analysis during 4 weeks is only 4595 €. This means that the Return On Investment is can be seen in a matter of a few days. 

ReLog S

The ideal vibration data logger for capturing and monitoring vibrations, shocks, and impacts. With superior battery life and 32 GB of memory, the ReLog is the perfect tool for monitoring vibrations in most environments. It has been designed to be extremely easy to handle and by the touch of a button, you will be up and running and measuring with up to 32,000 Hz sampling rate.

With its waterproof housing (IP67) there really are very few limitations to where you can use the ReLog! And when you’re done measuring the included software will make sure you have perfectly structured files that are easy to analyze and work with.