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Leveraging Predictive Maintenance as a Sustainability Opportunity

leavoy, paul, lnsAs manufacturers move to more of a “service-based” business model, they are becoming increasingly motivated to manage the complete lifecycle of an asset. As a result, we’re seeing how predictive maintenance can help in this journey—as this approach is applied to products, it can also be applied to high-value manufacturing assets. Take Rolls-Royce. Instead of limiting itself to remain a standard manufacturing-based enterprise, it has blurred the lines between product and service by selling “hours of flight” instead of simply selling airline engines.

The linkage between selling flight hours as a service and selling engines as individual units relates directly to the increasingly pervasive role of predictive maintenance in manufacturing performance: the whole idea that above and beyond simply maintaining our assets on a preventive-maintenance basis, we can actually begin to predict when machines—based on a whole array of aggregate factors—require maintenance in order to operate optimally, avoid failure, and, in essence, mitigate costs on a long-term basis.

Moves like Rolls-Royce’s are illustrative of a broad shift we’re seeing across manufacturing industries. But while the whole impetus for preventive maintenance is so often tied directly to asset health and financial performance, in the long game it is linked directly to something much broader and—some would say—more important: sustainability performance.

Below, we’ll explore the linkages between asset health, preventive maintenance, and overall sustainability performance.

The Three Levels of Maintenance

For the benefit of those new to the concept of preventive maintenance, let’s step back momentarily from the manufacturing environment and look at something we all deal with on a

recurring basis in a domestic environment: the light bulbs in our homes. Light bulbs are used on a daily basis in most cases, and as assets that deplete through use, they need to be replaced. We can use this lens to better understand the three levels of maturity when it comes to maintenance.

• Reactive or Break-Fix Maintenance: For light bulbs in a household environment, this is the most widely adopted model. We notice that a kitchen or living-room light has gone out, then we find another bulb, or we go out to a store to get a new one, and we replace the fixture in question with a fresh bulb. Beyond the realm of home lighting, while this approach can be spotted in low-maturity manufacturing environments, it is obviously far from optimal in any manufacturing environment. Critical machinery needs to be operating to spec at all times, at minimum.

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