Each day our economy struggles, it makes it much less likely that corporations will rehire the people they let go during the crisis. In many or most cases the first personnel released by corporations are the maintenance workers. So fewer workers are charged with maintaining the same amount of equipment. Unfortunately in most circumstances the maintenance departments operate in a run to failure mode frantically jumping from one failure to the next. Maintenance in a constant state of panic and fear spurs on more quick fixes and band-aids than is preferred. Handcuffed with limited time, help and budgets these maintenance personnel do what ever it takes to get each machine back up and running. Whether its chewing gum or bailing wire whatever keeps production moving is all that matters.
So many repairs are band-aids that unfortunately will be revisited in the not too distant future creating the never ending spiral. Without understanding, the same issues can reoccur endlessly with no insight into why or how these issues begin. These Herculean efforts go unappreciated as eventually the problems overwhelm the department and more heads roll. Most often the best personnel are let go or the department is outsourced so all the competency and knowledge is lost.
As many companies learn, in these circumstances during the lean times, predictive maintenance, condition monitoring and NDT technologies can turn this whole situation around. Instead of running from failure to failure, these technologies identify problems sooner so they are much smaller and much less costly to resolve. They can identify the specific faults in the equipment so you do not just apply a band-aid to only part of the problem but you fix all the issues. And while fixing the issue proactively before it happens is the best approach, that cannot always be done. If you are not committed to making all the necessary repairs identified by the technologies, then nothing really changes except that now you know that the crack in the bearing cage will probably give out in the next 3-6 months.
If your management does not believe in you, having this predictive maintenance knowledge is an extremely powerful way to turn them to your side. For some companies, predictive maintenance can feel like you’re fixing something that is not broken or doesn’t need the effort. If they are unwilling to provide you the funds and time to make the total repair, you can become a prophet by explaining the problem and how it will ultimately fail creating additional work in a few months. Some managers will ignore your wisdom but as your predictions come true you will quickly gain their attention and trust. And trust in predictive maintenance as a proactive form of process and productivity improvement will also grow.
Just remember that knowledge is power and the predictive maintenance technologies give you all the knowledge you could ever want. It is never nice to watch the train wreck as it approaches but sometimes that is the way management wants it until they get the bill. Now capture the momentum to articulate your argument that the predictive technologies see the future and help you avoid the train wrecks.