Predictive Maintenance (PdM), also known as condition-based maintenance, oversees the condition of equipment as it performs during regular hours of operation to identify and reduce the incidence of future failures. Not to be confused with Predictive Maintenance, Preventative Maintenance occurs when machines are not operating. The purpose of predictive maintenance is to predict when equipment might fail and to prevent failures through routine maintenance.

How does predictive maintenance work?

Predictive maintenance employs sensors that assess equipment using vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation. These sensors constitute a host of tests referred to collectively as condition monitoring.

What is condition monitoring?

Predictive maintenance uses condition-monitoring equipment to assess the current performance of an asset to predict failures and determine viability. Maintenance then occurs when performance diminishes or failure is likely, unlike preventative maintenance when maintenance occurs at defined times.

Why is predictive maintenance important?

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion annually. Equipment failure is the cause of 42 percent of this unplanned downtime. Unplanned outages result in excessive maintenance, repair and equipment replacement.” Because predictive maintenance discovers potential problems before equipment breaks down, its advantages are tremendous from a cost-saving perspective. Some of its benefits include reduced machine failures, shortened disruptions, enhanced production quality, decreased maintenance costs, and prolonged equipment life. Increasing the number of condition-monitoring tests also allow for greater accuracy.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program, a properly functioning predictive maintenance program has an increased savings of 30-40 percent more than reactive maintenance and 8-12 percent more than preventative maintenance. 

Does Predictive Maintenance have a downside?

With predictive maintenance, it takes a lot of time to assess and execute a PdM schedule. In addition, educating plant personnel on using the equipment and interpreting the findings costs money. A company can choose to go about filling this role in one of two ways: train current employees on the PdM program, or hire outside contractors who are experts in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. There is also the cost of the system and equipment. Despite these startup costs, effectuating PdM, in the long run, brings improved productivity, reliability, and profitability.

How does a company begin a predictive maintenance program?

For a successful PdM strategy, the commitment must come from the top-down and permeate all departments, making all employees understand that predictive maintenance is valuable and necessary and that inferior maintenance is costly. The following list includes the steps to take to begin a predictive maintenance program:

  • Determine a need for the program
  • Perform an equipment history
  • Research equipment breakdowns, defects, damages, fines, and employee safety incidents
  • Prepare a presentation to the company
  • Meet with company seniors to explain the program and its benefits
  • Itemize equipment
  • Calculate and catalog the operating equipment’s performance
  • Choose equipment to be used in the program
  • Decide what assets to inspect
  • Create predictive maintenance schedule
  • Calculate costs
  • Designate roles and responsibilities
  • Coordinate the program
  • Implement the system
  • Instruct all integral personnel on predictive maintenance program and schedule
  • Administer training
  • Establish a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)


Valued for its cost and time savings, predictive maintenance improves productivity, reliability, and profitability. While a PdM system requires an initial investment of time and money, the savings potential is tremendous, as predicted failures lessen downtime and maintenance is only performed as needed. 

About OptiAM®: OptiAM® EAM software is a secure, web-based application, designed to address unique customer requirements. Originally developed for the US Military by experienced maintenance personnel, OptiAM® is applicable to a wide range of asset types in any environment. Configurable and intuitive, OptiAM® applies to users in any industry.

About ASI: Andromeda Systems, Incorporated (ASI) is an ISO-9001:2008 company committed to superior technical performance and excellence in customer satisfaction. Our mission is to assist asset and fleet managers in achieving optimal levels of economy, availability, and safety by developing and applying leading systems engineering tools, processes, and expertise. We are headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, with offices in Lexington Park, MD; Arlington, VA; Jacksonville, FL; Havelock, NC; Oklahoma City, OK and San Diego, CA.