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The constant search for more efficient methods of operation is a common one in the manufacturing industry. As technology grows and advances, there are new dimensions to consider in terms of seeking out areas of improvement. One realm where many manufacturing businesses may stand to realize some improvements is in terms of predictive and preventative maintenance. The benefits provided by predictive modeling tools in this realm can save both money and time, reducing instances of equipment failure and keeping production lines running. With the right approach to predictive analytics, manufacturers can be more confident in their ability to operate with little if any downtime.

"Predictive analytics allows for a greater range of observations and forecasting."

Longer useful life, less downtime
An article in Manufacturing Business Technology magazine highlighted the advantages that predictive analytics can bring to manufacturing, focusing on the significant improvements in maintenance that are now and will soon be possible. The piece discussed how the breakdown of machines is rarely a totally random event, and excepting the rare instances of truly unpredictable failure, there are many large and small indicators that tell businesses when performance begins to decline and failure is imminent. Many companies already track and recognize some of these signs, but predictive analytics allows for a greater range of observations and forecasting, creating a more complete stream of information to inform management and maintenance staff.

Automating the process of predictive maintenance with the right predictive modeling software can lead to a number of positive results. Manufacturing Business Technology noted that only 25 percent of the signals in currently used analysis demonstrate actual failure, while the rest are just false positives. More generally, much of the internal data collected about machine performance is poorly utilized or not used at all due to substantial deficiencies in terms of accounting for variations in temperature, time of use, moisture content and many other factors.

The benefits of applying predictive maintenance to facility and machine maintenance will yield quick benefits in terms of increasing productivity and reducing the downtime associated with mechanical failure. The immediacy of these improvements are valuable, although the largest benefit is derived over the long term, as the seconds, minutes and hours machines spend working instead of broken add up and increase output. They also increase confidence in the manufacturing process.