Prescriptive Maintenance (RxM)

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Due to the high cost of implementation, few companies choose to include prescriptive maintenance or RxM in their maintenance program. For many, RxM is rarely a solution to their current needs. And the low return on investment makes it an even more impractical maintenance strategy.

Recently, more companies have recognized that RxM is an essential addition to their tools for digitization. Additionally, there is a rise in the development of cutting-edge maintenance technologies that offer practical solutions at more attractive prices. 

Here we discuss prescriptive maintenance to help you decide its potential as a valuable tool for achieving your maintenance goals and bottom line.

What is Prescriptive Maintenance?

Prescriptive maintenance (RxM) is a maintenance strategy that resembles preventive maintenance (PM). Both aim to prevent the breakdown of assets by relying on regular inspection and fixing minor issues before they worsen. What makes RxM different is that it utilizes machine-learning software to provide specific solutions. Think of RxM as a doctor who checks your assets for issues and provides prescriptions to cure them.

Implementing RxM involves the critical and often costly steps of data collection and analysis. This strategy must also perform these steps on every asset because it needs machine-specific data to develop unique solutions and recommendations.

Predictive vs. Prescriptive Maintenance 

Prescriptive maintenance is often confused with predictive maintenance (PdM). PdM is another maintenance strategy involving high-tech tools like sensors to collect and analyze data. PdM analysis provides insight into an asset’s operating patterns and possible risks, ultimately predicting when a failure is likely to happen.

RxM, on the other hand, involves much more sophisticated software like artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT). Also, RxM not only collects, analyzes, and predicts failure but also provides solutions and lets you compare several courses of action. 

If you allow it, an RxM system can decide the best course of action based on mathematical algorithms. This intelligent function means that it can create work orders and initiate maintenance without any direct approval or human intervention.

Prescriptive Maintenance Pros and Cons

Prescriptive maintenance is already being used in industries such as mining, oil, chemical, and aerospace. If you are considering including RxM in your maintenance program, you need to first familiarize yourself with its benefits and drawbacks.

The Benefits

  1. Multiple Scenario Modeling – RxM allows you to consider a wide range of possible solutions and weigh them according to your company’s resources, goals, and capabilities.
  2. Economics of Specific Actions – RxM further assists decision-making by providing the economics of every specific action or recommendation.
  3. Optimized Maintenance Operations – RxM provides timely solutions to essential issues, thus minimizing both planned and unplanned downtime and increasing the efficiency of operations.
  4. Digital Equipment Simulation – RxM creates digital models of assets for deeper understanding, facilitated maintenance, improved operating methods, and future modifications or upgrades.
  5. Support with Complex Equipment Issues – RxM can assist maintenance managers with equipment issues too complicated or complex for manual repairs.

The Downside

  1. Costly – RxM requires significant investment to retrofit equipment with the necessary sensors and hardware, purchase data-collecting devices, and set up high-level computers to process data.
  2. Requires Learning Time – RxM is not effective immediately upon setup and may need some learning time before it can be useful. Any machine-learning software needs to experience several failures to learn how a machine works.
  3. May Clash with Current Regulations – RxM uses advanced technology that industry regulation needs some time to catch up to be applicable. Current regulations may issue changes in maintenance policies that clash with the recommendation from RxM.
  4. Unsupervised Management – RxM’s intelligent decision-making without human intervention may receive doubt and low confidence, especially where safety is concerned.
  5. Integration into Workplace Culture – RxM implementation may go against a company’s workplace culture and result in negative reception, delayed action, mediocre participation, etc.

CMMS Facilitates Prescriptive Maintenance

Prescriptive maintenance is a powerful yet expensive tool that has practical, real-world advantages. But like any maintenance strategy, it has its drawbacks. The success of implementing RxM lies in first having an efficient PM and PdM program in place. Think of RxM as an autopilot system that will only work if there is a fully functioning car already available. 

Therefore, optimizing your maintenance program is the first step towards RxM. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) like Redlist can help you with this step. And a system as intelligent and flexible as Redlist is just the thing to propel you toward the future of maintenance with RxM.

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