Proactive Maintenance

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Traditionally, the forefront of maintenance techniques has been in the field of proactive maintenance. Other, conditional maintenance techniques such as run-to-failure have been sees as "fighting fires," or ways to combat emergency failure. Increasingly, and especially in maintenance practices such as RCM, proactive maintenance is just one of the many techniques used in an effective control program.

Proactive maintenance techniques include both preventive and predictive techniques. Predictive tasks are condition-based tasks that are often performed if something seems to be failing. Preventive techniques are performed regardless of whether an asset seems to be failing or not, and includes such tasks as scheduled conditioning or part replacement.

RCM Ideas on Proactive Maintenance

There is an emerging view that proactive maintenance may have some unexpected weaknesses as well. Though conventional wisdom tells us that the operating life of an asset may be extended through routine part replacements or overhauls. However, new findings are suggesting that introducing new components into a system can actually increase the conditional probability of failure for an asset (by introducing a period of "infant mortality" into a system).

RCM practices hold that proactive maintenance has value in many situations, but may not be suitable for combating the effects of all failure modes. By determining the desired function of an asset and the consequences of possible failures to perform the function, RCM practices can find ways to maintain the function of the asset in question. Under RCM, maintaining the function of an asset is important, even if that means allowing the physical characteristics of the asset to change.

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