The Role of Predictive Maintenance

Today’s buildings are smarter than ever, with automation systems and other technology offering facility managers deep insight into operations. They have the opportunity to monitor areas that were previously unable to have sensors thanks to the Internet of Things. Integrated solutions improve visibility on a granular and broad level and make it possible for managers to move from preventative to a predictive maintenance model.

Facility Management and Maintenance

As commercial buildings become more complex, with heavy investments in technology infrastructure, the managers face new challenges with maintenance. They’re already tasked with keeping all of the equipment running, and new device deployment requires specialized training and scheduling. It’s difficult for facility managers to find the time to optimize operations, especially if the organization is investing heavily in new solutions.

Commercial Maintenance Cycle

The commercial maintenance cycle is designed to limit the chances that essential systems go down during times that are disruptive to the business. It’s often difficult to find windows of opportunity that don’t get in the way of normal business duties, so maintenance is optimized around this schedule.
However, a preventative maintenance approach increases costs substantially as managers have to err on the side of caution. They may replace equipment that’s in perfect working order and showing no sign of age, simply because it’s close to end of life. They’re unable to perform this task at the optimal time, as they lack the information to support this decision. If they hold off, they could end up in an emergency replacement situation. The same holds true for swapping parts and other routine procedures. If the manufacturer gives an effective range for equipment, managers often choose the beginning of that period to handle things.
Predictive maintenance introduces a more optimized commercial maintenance cycle. The data generated by IoT sensors placed throughout the facility allow managers to dive deep into the information. They can build a schedule based on these insights, rather than choosing the overly cautious and expensive route. Parts and equipment get replaced when necessary, and not a moment before or after.
The facility manager starts by measuring the baseline performance. Without this metric, the predictive maintenance solution has no frame of reference. Once it processes this information, it can analyze real-time data to create an intelligent automated schedule that prioritizes the most important tasks.

Benefits of Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance thrives due to its ability to register small changes that reveal big problems coming down the pipeline. System downtime is kept to a minimum because the facility manager is not forced to react to problems. Managers will have a better understanding of what’s going on in the building and get the help of a predictive maintenance system that can create the work orders as needed. This gives managers information about areas that need to be addressed in the future.

A last-minute replacement that tanked productivity in the entire facility now only takes off-peak downtime. Managers can plan for replacements far in advance, getting the best pricing on labor and materials. Another expense-eliminating benefit is the optimized use of human resources. Contractors, maintenance staff and other workers get a schedule that makes the most of their time, and they also have the reassurance of knowing when they need to be on the clock. Overtime is less frequent since the maintenance windows have better planning. The maintenance cycle completely changes when managers can reduce the ticketing that’s necessary to keep things running.

When repairs are performed only when necessary, the facility manager can turn their attention towards optimizing building operations. They don’t have to run from one crisis to another, trying to balance the needs of the facility with the lost productivity that occurs during downtime.

Over time, the facility manager gets enough data to improve when maintenance occurs. The system improves as more sensors get added to equipment and the infrastructure expands as they bring new data points. When managers suspect problems in an area, they can compare this data to historical trends, look for small warning signs or get a top-down view of the entire system.

Integration with building automation systems and other solutions allow facility managers to get even more mileage out of this data. Generated reports provide hard data on how facility managers are improving operations, the direct savings associated with an improved maintenance schedule, and recommendations for future growth.

Mission-critical systems benefit particularly well from predictive maintenance. This part of the infrastructure has to experience a minimal amount of disruption. For example, medical facilities or banking operations. The predictive approach offers more predictability than other options, while still maintaining a cost-effective approach. Everyone can work together to find the least disruptive way to perform the necessary repairs and fixes, increasing overall satisfaction and productivity.

Preventative maintenance was a good option when facility managers lacked full visibility into building systems. The Internet of Things’ connected sensors feeds a real-time stream of valuable data that can report everything from vibrations to CO2 levels. A switch to predictive maintenance leverages this data through integrated BAS. This brings cost improvements and maintenance efficiency for the entire organization.

Want to learn more about preventative maintenance and working with smart buildings? Download our latest e-book, “How to Combat Building Automation Obsolescence.”

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