5 Ways Predictive Maintenance Prevents Unexpected Downtime

Early detection and system monitoring can save manufacturers millions of dollars per year.

We’re all familiar with the phrases “time is money” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but few places are these sayings more strikingly applicable than in manufacturing, especially when it comes to preventative maintenance. For perspective, a survey of automotive manufacturers revealed that the average cost of downtime is $22,000 per minute. Furthermore, with the average manufacturer experiencing 800 hours of downtime per year, the costs of downtime can easily surpass the million dollar mark.


Now, it’s unrealistic to believe that machines will never break, so every manufacturer must plan for some periods in which their machines are standing idle in order to conduct necessary maintenance. However, the difference between planned and unplanned downtime is crucial. It’s not just that every minute lost is thousands of dollars down the drain. Unplanned shutdowns have cascading effects that can make them even more costly than they appear at first glance:

  • Production waste if the shutdown leads to product loss.
  • Downstream production line disruptions and delays.
  • Increased expenses to expedite repairs.
  • Overtime costs to get production schedules back on track.
  • Loss of trust with business partners and consumers.


In other words, just as planned downtime is a requirement to keep a factory running in good order, unplanned downtime is an emergency that manufacturers should take broad steps to avoid.

Fortunately, the newest technologies available to manufacturers offer advanced solutions that can not only monitor real-time production performance, but can even predict when to schedule repairs so that production managers can control their maintenance schedules. Here are five ways these insights into equipment performance cut costs for manufacturers.


1. Maintenance planning allows for batched repairs.

When your production line shuts down unexpectedly, repairs become an emergency. In the rush to get systems back online, your maintenance crew has little time to devote toward a more robust inspection that might unearth other imminent repair needs. Even worse, some signs of wear are so subtle that by the time they become visible it’s already too late. As a result, one emergency shutdown leads to another, as different components fail on their own timelines.

However, planned repairs give your team time to order in all replacement components for every repair, shortening the overall downtime. Advanced production sensors also play a role here, in that they can detect signs of wear that are not easily visible to human observers. Early detection lets your team head into scheduled downtime with a complete list of all the repairs they need to make and all the parts on hand to complete them.


2. Monitoring systems pinpoint the location of failure.

Sometimes, when a system fails, precious minutes are lost trying to detect what went wrong, and the longer it takes to diagnose the cause of a failure the longer it will take to come up with a remedy. But what if advanced monitoring could effectively eliminate the discovery time?

In an ideal situation, sensors and operating chips should offer feedback before a failure—even going so far as to automatically order replacement parts. But in the event of a failure, they can also expedite the repair process by having diagnostic data on hand the moment it happens.


3. Preventative care extends the lifetime of all parts.

As we touched on earlier, the signs of wear are sometimes hard to detect. Small particles cause edges to erode, lubricants degrade as they become clogged by dust and other particulates, micro-abrasions weaken joints, and components corrode through contact with harsh chemicals or natural weathering. Planning maintenance schedules around these microscopic stressors can be difficult. Wait too long, and you risk an unexpected failure. Conduct maintenance too soon, and you could be replacing parts before their time.

Fortunately, modern sensors are not only much more precise in their measurements, they can also take more factors into account. By conducting preventative care at the right time, you can extend the lifetime of the parts themselves while ensuring that they are replaced before they can damage other parts.


4. Detection systems can prevent manufacturing flaws.

What happens if a component fails, but your system keeps running? And what if you don’t notice—not just for an hour or a day, but for weeks? The result could be millions of defective components that have flowed downstream into your other production stages or even out to the general public, and which now need to be recalled.

It has happened before and will happen again, but that doesn’t mean it has to happen to you. And one of the ways you can prevent it from happening is by relying on automated technology to monitor your equipment and send feedback on performance. When a part begins to operate outside a certain tolerance, it can notify you that repairs are in order.


5. Planned maintenance improves labor conditions for workers.

Finally, predictive maintenance schedules help workers have better work/life balance. With less time spent on-call, fewer interruptions during off hours, and no long nights spent managing crisis after crisis, your manufacturing team will be better rested and happier with their jobs. Given that labor shortages continue to be an ongoing concern within manufacturing, ensuring your workforce isn’t stressed by preventable overtime hours should also be a key operational goal.


Contact Eagle to learn about our advanced monitoring and detection capabilities.

At Eagle, we pride ourselves on our mastery of the latest automation technologies. We want to know not only what is available currently, but what is expected to be available in the near future, and the various advantages and disadvantages of the solutions on offer. We aren’t doing our job if we can’t provide expert guidance on which systems will offer the most benefits to our customers, and that includes preventative maintenance monitoring.

Our current solutions include sensors that record and transmit real-time production data, in-line quality control monitors, IIoT-equipped devices that can relay information to a centralized command module, and big data analytics that use production history to help manufacturers anticipate maintenance needs.


If you have any questions about how we can help your company better safeguard against unexpected downtime, contact us today. We would be happy to discuss our automation capabilities with your team.


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Eagle Technologies, headquarters in Bridgman, MI

Eagle builds the machines that automate manufacturing. From high-tech robotics to advanced product testing capabilities, Eagle offers end-to-end manufacturing solutions for every industry.

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