What is the cost of poor maintenance practices?

July 9, 2012
Mike Bacidore says use maintenance and reliability practices to keep equipment operational.

What if I didn’t write a column this month? Would blood be shed? What would the monetary implications be?

While this page that appears in each issue of Plant Services may not bear the same financial weight that a compressed air system or a boiler system does, there’s a certain degree of reliability that it must maintain. Like a bearing, it is a small, but vital, component in creating the overall product. And schedules are planned and kept to ensure productivity isn’t interrupted.

Similarly, in industrial manufacturing plants, maintenance and reliability practices are in place to keep equipment operational. When equipment is operational, it can be used to make product, which is then sold for revenue. Without operational equipment, that chain of events comes to a halt.

At SKF Technical Day in Philadelphia this past June, Paul Michalicka, from SKF USA’s ( maintenance products division gave a brief but well-rounded presentation on maintenance practices. He explained how most companies have seen the shortcomings of run-to-failure asset management, how many have realized the benefits of preventive maintenance, and how some have understood the impact that predictive maintenance has on reliability and profitability.

Mike Bacidore has been an integral part of the Putman Media editorial team since 2007, when he was managing editor of Control Design magazine. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at 630-467-1300 ext. 444 or [email protected] or check out his .
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The reason behind this impact is unplanned downtime. And it can be expensive. Michalicka referenced a 2010 study that sized up just how expensive by industry, ranging from $41,000/hr to more than $800,000/hr. These numbers include the cost of capital equipment, labor, and lost productivity.

That’s where condition monitoring and predictive maintenance practices can help. In our June webinar, Paula Hollywood, senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group ( and author of this month’s cover story, explained the results of our joint survey on predictive technologies. You still can view and hear the presentation at, but the important takeaways revolved around maintenance costs. Corrective maintenance is 10 times as expensive as predictive maintenance. Whether it’s the cost of unplanned downtime and the firefighting that is done to fix the problem or it’s the cost of planned, but unnecessary, time-based maintenance, the financial implications of the practice you use are undeniable.

Equipment monitoring and predictive analysis are the cornerstones of reliability-centered asset healthcare, but which technologies have the most impact, and where do you even start? While vibration monitoring is by far the most widely used, corrosion monitoring has made a drastic surge in popularity. And plants with reliable equipment use a complementary set of predictive tools that give a true sense of asset health and mitigate the risk of catastrophic failure on critical equipment.

So, what if I didn’t write this column?

Would you still be thinking about predictive maintenance right now?