Predictive Maintenance: When Does it Make Sense?

With predictive maintenance, there is a way of detecting failure before it occurs through condition monitoring.  What sets this type of maintenance apart from preventive maintenance is that there is some type of measurement.

Eurofins TestOil Reliability Concierge Program Manager David Gawelek explains, “Predictive maintenance is focused on collecting data that will trigger when maintenance actions occur, while preventative maintenance is simply carrying out maintenance on a schedule. The decision as to whether predictive or proactive maintenance makes the most sense, isn’t necessarily based on machinery type as much as it is the specifics of the industrial process, safety factors, redundancies, etc. Many factors are involved.”

                David goes on to explain that with predictive maintenance, the goal is to determine what failure modes are likely to occur in equipment and then carrying out measurements (condition monitoring) to detect those failure modes before they negatively impact equipment operation.

This data collection and analysis leads to targeted maintenance actions such as testing lubricating oils at calculated intervals to identify lubricant condition; and if degradation is indicated, to change the oil. The collected data will also identify machine component condition; if wear is occurring at an abnormal rate, the equipment should be inspected and perhaps other targeted measurement implemented to determine the source.

                With predictive maintenance, parts are replaced and maintenance is performed based on asset condition. This condition is determined through measurements and calculated thresholds. Advantages of predictive maintenance include:

  • Lower parts and maintenance costs: extended drain intervals, faster rebuild times, maximized usage of full useful life
  • Decreased downtime

Disadvantages include:

  • An increased investment in diagnostic tools and personnel (staffing and training)
  • The inability to eliminate failures completely

While there are several condition monitoring techniques for predictive maintenance, where oil analysis really shines is determining wear and contamination (particulate, water and other fluids) and spotlighting degradation and additive depletion.

                Proactive maintenance takes predictive maintenance a step further. David explains, “While predictive maintenance involves measuring conditions that indicate symptoms of potential failures, proactive maintenance aims to correct the conditions that lead to failures themselves.”

An example he gives is high speed turbines: a good predictive maintenance strategy would include regular turbine oil analysis to detect signs of varnish. A good proactive maintenance strategy would be to identify and remediate causes of varnish.

Eurofins TestOil offers same day oil analysis which is especially valuable for predictive maintenance. Every failure mode has a length of time between when it can be detected and when it negatively impacts equipment function. That span of time is critical for taking action to prevent functional failure. Rapid-onset failures can have far-reaching consequences, meaning timely data acquisition is critical.

“All of Eurofins TestOil’s routine tests of in-service lubricants and industrial fluids are for purposes of predictive maintenance (detecting potential failures before they become functional failures),” David concludes.  

                For more information on working with Eurofins TestOil for oil analysis and training visit Contact: 216-251-2510;

                With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil, focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with a guarantee of same-day turnaround on all routine testing. For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510;

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