Keeping you ahead of the Curve!

Predictive Maintenance Overview

Predictive maintenance is the use of the new technologies of Infrared Thermal Imaging and Ultrasound Detection to see and hear things that we as humans could not otherwise see or hear. Thus we use these new technologies to get a head start on a potential failure.

We can predict a potential failure in your machinery before it happens and you can schedule the repairs before the failure. This will save countless amounts of money in less down time and less expensive repairs. If the machine is allowed to run to failure it is proven by past history that it will cost 5 to 7 times more to fix because of the collateral damage that may occur and the unscheduled down time and loss of production that occurs.

Predictive maintenance has been a division that has often received less than adequate “commitment”. The wisdom of maintaining electrical or mechanical systems only when it is needed or predicted, rather than at routine intervals or even worse when they fail is catching on.

In all electrical or mechanical systems excessive heat is usually a hallmark of future problems.  Our thermographers (equipped with high quality Infrared Thermal Imaging systems) can reliably detect this heat and report potential problem areas to you prior to failure. A comprehensive infrared inspection program, performed by professional thermographers, can reduce downtime, prevent disastrous failures, and most importantly save lives and money.


Electrical Panel Inspection
Inspect electrical panels routinely for loose connections, overloaded circuits, and other potentially hazardous electrical flow resistance.

Bus Ducts
Inspect along entire length for any anomalies revealed by excessive heat energy.

Production Line Bearings
Any size production line involves many rolling bearings along the material transfer path.  The relatively slow speed of these bearings allows for reliable thermal scans and/ or Ultrasound Detection.  Problem parts can be replaced during a scheduled shut down preventing a costly unscheduled shut down.

Transformers Switching
Infrared inspections can spot potential problems in these high voltage devices. Our cameras can image problems in connections, cooling tubes, and wiring. The Ultrasound Detection equipment can hear the arcing and tracking that might be going on inside these large units. These systems have the potential to store huge amounts of energy and an unexpected failure of this equipment can cause serious damage to property and personnel.

Motors / Shafts / Bearings
Large motors are usually connected to large shafts which are stabilized by large bearings. If one link in this chain of vital equipment is broken the results can be disastrous. Infrared Thermal Imaging inspections and Ultrasound Detection can reveal potential failure points in these systems.

Make the choice to Inspect and repair before your only choice left is to shutdown, wait for parts, and then make the repair.

The Effects of Deferred Maintenance

The Disastrous Effects of
Deferring Maintenance

By David Todd Geaslin

When we attempt to force maintenance spending into specific lumps of time that do not meet the needs of our machines, we create the need to defer maintenance. Maintenance budgets fail because final budgeting authorities do not understand the disastrous consequences of deferring maintenance.

In 2001, I was asked to create a 16-week college course in the management of maintenance. During the creation, I made four significant new discoveries concerning the financial management of maintenance and created rules to cover them.

1. The “Inverse-Square Rule for Deferred Maintenance”

2. The “Effects of The Chaos Theory on Budgeting Maintenance” Rule

3. The “Cost to Improve Maintenance” Rule

4. The “Necessity for a Corporate Memory for Maintenance” Rule

These rules explain (1) why maintenance budgets fail to perform, (2) the trigger that initiates failure, (3) a self-financing solution to improve maintenance without having to inject cash to improve the quality and quantity of maintenance, and (4) what has to be done to sustain proper maintenance funding.

In this article, I will discuss the first rule. In my quest to quantify the relationship between pre-breakdown and post-breakdown maintenance expenses I made a discovery that can create a paradigm shift in how we manage maintenance. We all know the longer we operate a machine that needs repair, the more it will cost to fix it. The people I know that are in upper management that have not been directly involved in maintenance know it will cost more, but think that the worst-case penalty for deferring maintenance might be up to twice as much.

Those of us who have had many years of direct experience in managing maintenance have tried to tell them that the penalty is significantly more than that. I personally felt that the cost of deferring maintenance was three to four times as much as a timely repair. What I discovered in my research is that the penalty for deferring maintenance is not more, not twice as much, not four times as much, but that the real penalty for deferring maintenance that becomes a breakdown event is 15:1 minimum and often exceeds 40:1!

This shocker came to me was when I attempted to find a metric that would explain the before and after breakdown cost difference. I had to go to an exponential factor! Arithmetic and geometric progressions could not consistently produce the dramatic cost differences. When I realized that the cost penalty was exponential I was able to find the base number. I created a rule that I call Geaslin’s “Inverse-Square Rule for Deferred Maintenance”. This Rule states:

“If a part is known to be failing and the repair is deferred and allowed to remain in service until the next level of failure, the resultant expense will be the square of the failed part.”

This is why a $40 brake shoe left in service until the brake shoe rivets damage the brake drum, the drum ruins the core value of the shoes, the truck breaks down on the road, a second truck and driver has to be dispatched, the load transferred, and one driver dead-head back with the tow truck results in an expense of the square of $40 ($40X$40=$1,600) and becomes $1,600. If the brake problem causes a personal injury accident the cost can easily square again to $2.5 million.

This rule explains how a leaking $50 toilet valve, if left in service until it overflows can easily cost the square of $50 to create a total flood damage cost of $2,500 in carpet, pad, electrical, and document destruction.

This is why a failing industrial electric motor bearing valued at $100 can create a $10,000 repair if left in service until failure and the rotor wipes out the windings and damages the stator.

This rule explains how deferring a $1,000 cleaning of a heat exchanger can easily create a $1,000,000 expense in corrupted product, re-refining, packaging, and shipping costs.

My students were not quick to accept that the penalty could be the square of the failed part. “It couldn’t be the square. Squared numbers get too big too fast.” they said. So I challenged them to take their last maintenance event invoice that was so stinky that it ended up on the boss’s desk; add in all the collateral damages such as idled worker salaries, quality control events, ruined materials, customer dissatisfaction, and lost production or profits and put that number in their calculator; and click the SQRT button (The square-root button). I asked them to see if the number they get is the cost of the primary failure part, the part that if repaired early would have prevented the breakdown expense. Everybody was amazed at how close the answer came to the purchase price of the primary failure (Root-cause) part.

Then we computed the total invoice cost for parts and labor to have repaired the primary failure part at the earliest moment discovered and divided it into the total stinky maintenance event cost. This ratio turned out to be a minimum of 15:1 and often exceeded 40:1.

At this point I began to understand why final budgeting authorities have always seemed willing to take the breakdown risks associated with deferring maintenance. Their Risk / Reward Ratio Analysis computations have been based on taking their Maintenance Manager’s worst-case scenario of about 4:1, discounting it to a ratio of about 2:1, and then basing their budgeting decisions on that risk factor. My new discoveries show that the real Risk / Reward Ratio is between 15:1 and 40:1 and the consequences of betting that a breakdown will not occur are much more disastrous than ever thought. No one would ever take those odds at a craps table.

When I explain this rule to Maintenance Managers, they embrace the analysis immediately because it explains what they see in the field everyday.

When I explain this rule to Executive and Budget Managers, they recognize it as a metric they can use to create a new matrix for budgeting and managing maintenance to a lower cost value. The application of this new rule creates one of the few Win/Win situations between the Maintenance Department and final budgeting authorities that gives each what they need to succeed.

The application of this rule can be as important to managing maintenance as The Deming Method is to quality control. The application to maintenance budgeting is that powerful. If you wish to test this rule, pull that big maintenance invoice out of your inbox, add in the maintenance, operational, and customer collateral expenses, take the square-root of the total, and see if that is the price of the primary failure part. Discuss the results with your staff. If you see the relationship, it can offer a better way to manage maintenance budgets.

The Safety Aspects

The Safety Aspects of Predictive Maintenance

Most maintenance managers are familiar with the scenario. When a piece of equipment becomes suspect or begins to fail, people usually test with the equipment most readily available – our eyes, ears, and hands. These are “handy” tools, but often not as sensitive as we need to find the problem. Even more important is the fact that these kinds of equipment evaluations are not safe. Ask anyone who has acted as a human thermometer and laid their hand on a blistering hot piece of malfunctioning machinery.

By incorporating Infrared Thermal Imaging and Ultrasound Detection equipment, Peterson Predictive Maintenance can conduct completely non-intrusive testing of systems and equipment. This means having the ability to gather detailed diagnostic information without requiring physical contact – sometimes up to 300 feet away.

Eliminating both the need for close proximity testing and physical contact drastically increases the safety of this diagnostic testing. Because this type of testing is much safer, there is no need to shut equipment down, or even slow it down, to gather information. The result is that, by running under normal work loads and  normal work speeds, the information we collect is far more accurate in predicting problem areas and need for maintenance.

By leveraging these cutting edge technologies, Peterson Predictive Maintenance is able to quickly provide extremely accurate information in the safest way possible – therefore providing the greatest value for your predictive maintenance program.