As part of a complete maintenance program, preventive and predictive maintenance strategies complement one another. Individually, they each involve regularly scheduled maintenance tasks that extend equipment life and maximize reliability. But together, they combine regular inspection procedures and observations with the right amount fluid testing and analysis to identify problems, so maintenance downtime can be scheduled before it is too late.
Preventive maintenance procedures are those scheduled, routine tasks, such as oil and fuel filter replacements, belt and gasket checks, oil analysis and lubricant changes. Scheduling these tasks at set intervals can prevent unnecessary equipment failures.
Predictive maintenance practices utilize a “condition-based” approach to determining when maintenance is warranted taking into consideration equipment application and operating environment when reviewing test results.
If oil analysis results show that an oil is no longer able to perform at a level that maintains optimal, safe equipment operation, a decision should be made to schedule downtime to change the oil in the affected unit.
A truly predictive approach to maintenance identifies abnormal equipment or fluid conditions in their earliest stages, so equipment maintenance can be scheduled before small problems become bigger failures that result in unnecessary downtime and losses in production.
Importantly, predictive maintenance practices should never replace preventive measures, which include routine system and component checks that can extend equipment life and prevent costly failures. Eliminating routine actions like fluid-level checks, chassis greasing, monitoring coolant levels, and checking cooling system performance can adversely impact the life expectancy of critical equipment.
Also, equipment warranties are often based on compliance with an OEM’s recommendations for regular service intervals, which typically require a series of maintenance tasks that help prevent abnormal wear and contamination from occurring. Oil analysis can identify wear and contamination issues that an OEM deems out of character based on normal use.
Basic testing identifies changes in lubricant properties caused by contaminants, such as fuel, coolant, dirt, wear particles, and glycol. It also monitors additive levels to determine when “lube mixing” has occurred. It also includes metals and elemental analysis, viscosity, water, fuel dilution, soot, glycol, and oxidation/nitration.
These basic tests, along with actionable maintenance recommendations, help fleet managers to make informed maintenance decisions that save money and improve equipment reliability.
Standard testing determines a lubricant’s suitability for continued use and confirms that oil change intervals are sufficient. This enhanced level of testing adds TBN (total base number) or TAN (total acid number) to the basic test slate.
Safely extending drain intervals can mean substantial savings in lubricant and labor costs – the larger the fleet, the bigger the savings.