Skip to main content

Navigating Maintenance Strategies: From Reactive to Predictive and Beyond

In the realm of industrial operations and facility management, the approach to maintenance has undergone a significant transformation over recent years.

Historically, maintenance has often been viewed as a financial burden within organisations – so-called “unnecessary” expenditures incurred for hiring maintenance personnel and procuring spare parts without directly contributing to revenue generation. This perception would pose challenges in persuading management to allocate resources towards maintenance initiatives.

Nowadays, it should not come as a shock to management that maintenance accounts for 20-50% of the total operating budget[i]. Although traditional reactive methods like “run to fail” are giving way to more proactive strategies such as Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) and the cutting-edge Predictive Maintenance (PdM), there is still some resistance against full adoption of such maintenance strategies. So, what is the difference between these practices? How do they benefit business operations and what factors need to be addressed to welcome adoption within your business?

Understanding Maintenance Practices:

  1. Run to Fail (RTF):

Run to Fail is a reactive approach where maintenance activities are only performed after a component or equipment fails. Although seemingly straightforward, this method often leads to costly unplanned downtime, emergency repairs, and potential safety hazards. Running a piece of equipment to the point of failure (i.e. unplanned) costs, on average, ten times as much as a regular maintenance program would[ii].

Although reactive maintenance cannot always be avoided, companies relying solely on RTF may find themselves caught in a cycle of firefighting rather than proactive maintenance.

  1. Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM):

Favoured by 80% of maintenance personnel [iii], PPM involves scheduling regular maintenance tasks based on predetermined intervals or criteria. When first implementing a PPM strategy these intervals may be a best guess or based on past downtime. As maintenance engineers regularly service parts and develop a deeper understanding of their machines a more robust schedule can develop. By adhering to a planned schedule, organisations can minimise unexpected breakdowns, extend equipment lifespan, and optimise operational efficiency. PPM lays the foundation for a more systematic approach to maintenance, reducing the likelihood of large, costly disruptions.

  1. Predictive Maintenance (PdM):

Industry 4.0 Modern Factory: Project Engineer Talks to Female Operator who Controls Facility Production Line, Uses Computer with Screens Showing AI, Machine Learning Enhanced Assembly Process

Predictive Maintenance represents the next frontier in maintenance practices, leveraging advanced technologies such as IoT sensors, data analytics, and machine learning algorithms. PdM can reduce machine downtime by 30%-50% and increase equipment life by 20%-40%.

Rather than relying on fixed schedules or guesswork, PdM uses real-time data to anticipate equipment failures before they occur. By detecting subtle changes in performance or condition, organisations can proactively address issues, optimise maintenance schedules, and maximise asset uptime.

54% of global manufacturers surveyed by ATS use predictive maintenance technologies to reduce operational costs involved in maintaining their equipment.

The Synergy Between Predictive and Preventative Maintenance:

While PPM provides a structured framework for maintenance activities, PdM enhances its effectiveness by introducing predictive capabilities. By integrating predictive analytics into existing maintenance strategies, companies can:

  • Identify potential failures earlier, minimising unplanned downtime and production losses
  • Optimise resource allocation by prioritising maintenance tasks based on actual equipment health
  • Reduce maintenance costs through targeted interventions and efficient use of resources
  • Extend asset lifespan by addressing issues before they escalate into major problems
  • Improve safety by proactively addressing equipment failures and minimising risks to personnel

Taking these into consideration, predictive analytics can yield a tenfold return on investment, and adopting such practises can result in savings of 30% to 40%.[iv]

However, as beneficial as predictive maintenance is it often requires a full computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) to reap the full benefits. Unfortunately, industry standard failure rates of implementation range between a shocking 60% and 80%.

With 54% of manufacturers using predictive maintenance, how come the failure rates of implementation are so high?

  1. Initial Investment:

Implementing PdM requires upfront investment in technology infrastructure, sensors, software, and employee training. Some examples of the costs associated in implementing such a system are as follows:

  • Sensors: The cost of sensors depends on their type and brand, ranging from approximately £100 to several thousand pounds per sensor. For instance, a temperature sensor might cost around £100, while a vibration sensor could be around £1000.
  • Software: Setting up a predictive maintenance program may require multiple software solutions. A Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software, typically priced per user, starts at approximately £350 per user annually. Additionally, a data analytics tool for collecting and analysing sensor data can start from around £160, depending on the chosen software.
  • Installation: If your maintenance technicians lack the expertise to install and integrate sensors with the software, you may need to hire specialists for installation. Costs can range from thousands to tens of thousands of pounds, depending on the number of sensors and complexity of equipment.
  • Skilled Maintenance Expert: An experienced maintenance engineer is essential for accurately interpreting data from condition-monitoring devices. Depending on your equipment’s failure modes, you may not require a dedicated maintenance engineer for your predictive maintenance program. But if you do the associated salary also needs to be considered.

Any compromise on investment on any of these points can affect the successful implementation of a CMMS and PdM.

  1. Data Quality and Integration:

Effective predictive maintenance relies on high-quality data from various sources. For the amount invested upfront, you would expect 100% accurate readings from the sensors.

However, the compatibility of PdM can vary and the technology does not always take essential factors into account such as age of equipment, or even the weather, and readings can be misinterpreted. Therefore, ensuring data accuracy, consistency, and compatibility across different systems on the factory floor can be challenging, especially for legacy equipment.

  1. Skill Gap:

Successfully deploying and managing predictive maintenance initiatives requires specialised skills in data analytics, machine learning, and condition monitoring. Companies may face challenges in recruiting or upskilling personnel to fill these roles. These personnel must also be able to navigate the chosen CMMS and understand what data is shown on their computer screens to best maintain each piece of equipment being monitored.

  1. Change Management:

As with any organisational change, transitioning from traditional maintenance practices to predictive maintenance requires a cultural shift within the organisation. Buy-in must be from the top all the way down to operators. Any resistance to change, lack of buy-in from stakeholders, and inertia can impede progress and affect the success of implementation.

 With all this in mind, PdM can work but some companies may be reluctant to embrace it due to concerns about technology reliability, false positives, or the perceived complexity of implementation.  For others it may just be the upfront investment required.

Are there any alternatives to enhance maintenance strategies?

Differences in cost between preventive and predictive maintenance are notable. Preventive maintenance primarily incurs labour expenses, whereas predictive maintenance involves significant upfront investments in sensors, software, setup, and training.

As such, it’s important to ask the question is Predictive Maintenance suitable for my business or is Preventative Maintenance better and can PPM be enhanced in any other way?

Perhaps as manufacturers shift from reactive maintenance approaches to proactive strategies but aren’t ready to adopt PdM, many AddParts customers are embracing the service which is another approach to enhance reactive and proactive maintenance strategies.

AddParts supplies on-demand digital spare parts for production and packing lines, supporting maintenance and operations teams using cutting-edge technology to reduce downtime by up to 90% and spare part costs by up to 50%. The company 3D scans critical components on-site for storage on a secure, tailored digital inventory. The parts are supplied in like-for-like, traceable materials in 48 hours, and are manufactured at a dedicated, UK-based facility using industrial 3D printers.

With AddParts there is still a cost incurred for procuring spare parts but, unlike spare parts supplied by the equipment manufacturers, lead times can be from 2 days to 7 days rather than 8 – 10 weeks. In comparison to PdM, the upfront costs are simply the cost required to 3D scan equipment and convert the data to production ready digital files however the potential for 80-90% reduction in downtime means this is still an attractive service.

Of course, going one step further and coupling AddParts with a predictive maintenance strategy can mean an automated maintenance strategy can being to evolve. Parts for machines can be ordered automatically based on the equipment data analytics and these will arrive within a week, ready to be installed by the maintenance engineers.

Want to learn more about how AddParts could enhance your maintenance strategy? Book a meeting and start your free 90-day trial.









Revolutionising maintenance: combining of virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing

In the fast-paced world of automated machinery, the daily struggle of locating the right components and spare parts to keep your machines humming smoothly is real. Downtime is the arch-nemesis, and every minute counts. Fear not! There’s a game-changing duo in town—AddParts! which provides virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing. Let’s delve into why this combination is the golden ticket for maintenance managers and engineers.

  1. The challenge of traditional inventories:

Maintaining a physical inventory is a formidable task. Shelves upon shelves of parts in large warehouses, the constant battle to keep track of stock levels, and the agony of discovering that a crucial component is out of stock at the most inconvenient moment. The struggle is real. Enter virtual inventories!

  1. The power of virtual inventories:

Virtual inventories, powered by cutting-edge technology, offer a dynamic and real-time solution. Imagine having a digital catalogue at your fingertips, accessible from anywhere at any time. With just a few clicks, you can check the availability of components, production cost, materials, geometric validations, download certificates of conformity, view previous orders and place orders seamlessly. It’s like having your own virtual genie that grants your maintenance wishes instantly.

  1. The on-demand manufacturing magic:

Now, let’s talk about the dynamic partner—on-demand manufacturing. Traditional manufacturing can be slow and rigid, but on-demand 3D printing is the superhero that swoops in to save the day. Need a specialised part that’s not readily available or has a long lead time? No problem. On-demand manufacturing ensures that you get precisely the component you need, when you need it, which eliminates unnecessary delays and downtime.

  1. The perfect symbiosis:
Packing machine components for a controlled environment at a Pharmaceutical company by Addition – AddParts

Here’s where the magic happens—the perfect symbiosis of virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing. Picture this: you identify a critical component that needs replacement. With a few taps on your device, you check its availability in the virtual inventory. The AddParts on-demand manufacturing engine kicks in, ensuring that the required part is produced and shipped to you within 48 hours*. It’s a seamless dance that keeps your machines running without a hitch.

  1. Cost-efficiency and sustainability:

Beyond the convenience, this combination is a win-win for your budget and the environment. Virtual inventories reduce the need for extensive physical storage, cutting costs associated with large warehousing and inventory management. On-demand industrial 3D printing minimizes overproduction, reducing waste and contributing to a more sustainable approach.

  1. Future-proofing your maintenance strategy:

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and automation, a forward-thinking approach is crucial. Embracing the combination of virtual inventories and on-demand manufacturing future-proofs your maintenance strategy. You’re not just keeping up; you’re staying ahead of the game.

In conclusion, the daily struggles of finding the correct components and spare parts for automated machinery are a thing of the past. The synergy of the AddParts virtual storeroom and on-demand 3D printing is the beacon of hope, guiding maintenance managers and engineers to a future where downtime is a distant memory.

Here’s to smoother operations, fewer headaches, and machines that keep on rolling, crushing, sorting and packing!


Innovation leads the way at PPMA

It’s been an incredibly busy, but exciting, time for us here at Addition. Not only have we launched a brand-new service, AddParts, but we have also created an innovative new process which is set to really cause a stir in the food manufacturing sector. To showcase these recent developments, we attended the prestigious PPMA Show held last month in Birmingham and here our director, Tom Fripp, gives us an insight into how the event went and what we’ve got in store for our customers, old and new.

As we embark on an important next step in the journey of our business, it really feels we are now forging our own path in the world of design and additive manufacturing. We always knew that creating a USP would be key and over the last few months we have worked incredibly hard on some exciting developments that we think will make us stand out from the crowd as true experts in this field. And what better place to showcase what we’re all about than at the largest processing and packaging machinery exhibition in the UK, the PPMA Group of Associations Show 2023!

AddParts food contact blue SLS 3D printed components are ideal for food production line components.

AddParts makes its mark

We used the opportunity PPMA brings to unveil AddParts, which is delivered exclusively by Addition Design, and supplies digital spares for production and packing lines on demand through the use of 3D scanning, digital data management and industrial 3D printing. It gives customers across a number of sectors a competitive advantage by drastically reducing downtime on their lines and thereby lowering associated costs.

Our investment in new equipment, and in subsequent skilled personnel, forms the foundation for AddParts’ unique methodology of unlocking the benefits of industrial 3D print technology to provide new opportunities and deliver even higher performance components with reduced lead times offering a really focussed solution that manufacturers can truly benefit from.

But not only did we want to shout about AddParts as a whole, we also wanted to be at PPMA to demonstrate how AddParts can now be used in the food processing sector thanks to a revolutionary new way we have created for the food industry to detect problems in the production process and embrace new technologies.

New food contact blue 3D printed components from Addition – AddParts taking full advantage of industrial 3D printing technology

This new process allows food manufacturers to access production parts that meet the stringent regulatory requirements of food production components whilst taking full advantage of industrial additive manufacturing.

The new technique addresses a number of renowned issues that affect the industry’s ability to fully embrace the benefits of industrial 3D printing while complying with food-safety regulations and production line efficiency needs including those of low-cost, fast turnaround, blue, food contact components.


The power of PPMA

Packing machine components for a controlled environment at a Pharmaceutical company by Addition – AddParts

The PPMA Show rarely disappoints. Fellow exhibitors are supportive and keen. As a business we feel welcomed into the industry by both the PPMA and the other members. But we know our market and we know who we are here to help – it’s the engineers, the ops managers, the production planners anyone else who feels the burden of downtime when the line goes down. But people of this calibre are difficult to pin down. The PPMA is different as we find that those very people are the same ones walking the floor seeking out solutions which we can provide in abundance.

AddParts is a service which deals in real components both at the start of the process and at the end. We deal with broken, worn or obsolete parts when we scan the parts and we deal with high quality 3D printed components when we supply and without seeing how we do our work or the quality of the parts we supply for yourself, you simply cannot get a thorough enough understanding for just how good our service is. On top of this, we are manufacturing fanatics and that’s also a difficult thing to convey effectively by any other means than face to face!

Trade shows like the PPMA give us the opportunity to show how much of our customers values we share – those of making sure those production lines keep on turning and focusing on the need to always have a steady, reliable supply of accurate, high-quality components as and when they are needed. AddParts is a really unique offering and we believe that it brings new opportunities for manufacturers in the UK so meeting our customers and answering their questions is an absolute must.

Spreading the word

So, what was the reaction like? We’ve worked really hard to create a simple, honest, dependable identity for AddParts and when we see people glancing, then stopping and approaching us to talk to us, seeing the penny drop for just what we can offer, and how we can help has been an absolute joy. Thankfully, at this year’s PPMA show it happened a lot!

I’d say people’s reactions were part disbelief, part excitement and perhaps most strangely, just plain acceptance! We know it’s novel and exciting and, when paired with the other benefits of AddParts, offers something very new and unique for food manufacturers. But when you put it into context with the other professionally delivered services which have so clearly been thought through and refined to deliver exactly what our customers have been asking, a lot of professionals – from food, pharma, medical and a whole range of industries and companies from SME’s to global giants – saw the blue parts and simply accepted that it made sense for us to be offering something on the production side just as innovative as the rest of AddParts.

We know we’ve got more work to do to make AddParts even more relevant for more manufacturers but AddParts is here to stay and we plan to continue to shout about our continued innovations and success. Watch this space!

Automation in Packing Lines – JIT versus JIC in the Age of Virtual Inventories

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, supply chain management plays a pivotal role in the success of organizations. Within many industries utilising automation and machinery, operation managers, production managers, and production engineers all face challenges in ensuring the efficient flow of materials, meeting regulatory requirements, and optimizing production processes. Two prominent supply chain management methodologies, Just-in-Time (JIT) and Just-in-Case (JIC), have long been employed to address these challenges. However, with the introduction of virtual inventories, an exciting transformation is underway. This article explores how virtual inventories are reshaping supply chains, particularly where JIT is not practical and must be maintained through JIC practices.

Just-in-Time (JIT) and Just-in-Case (JIC) are contrasting approaches to supply chain management, each with its own merits and applications. JIT aims to minimize inventory holding costs by delivering materials and components to the production line at the exact moment they are needed. Gaining worldwide popularity through the 1990s, this lean methodology helps reduce waste, minimize lead times, and enhance overall efficiency. On the other hand, JIC emphasizes stockpiling and maintaining surplus inventory to mitigate risks associated with supply disruptions, demand variability, and production constraints.

While JIT is widely adopted across various industries there are applications where it simply isn’t suitable. For industries which encounter stringent regulatory requirements, product expiration dates, and the need for rigorous quality control solely implementing JIT practices can be challenging. In these situations, often the JIC approach offers an alternative strategy for effective supply chain management.

Furthermore, in various industries where automation has been introduced to increase manufacturing productivity a secondary supply chain has also been introduced, one that is difficult to manage using JIT methods.

Automation often relies on critical components or spare parts to maintain production continuity. Several automation machinery manufacturers only offer closed systems, meaning these critical spare parts are bespoke to their machines. With long lead times and limited supplier options, customers who use automation have no choice but to adopt a JIC approach and hold excess stock of these critical spare parts to prevent the risk of costly downtime.

Enter virtual inventories like Addition’s AddParts service — a transformative concept that combines the efficiency of JIT with the risk mitigation of JIC. A virtual inventory can make use of real-time data and advanced digital technologies to manage component availability throughout the supply chain without physically holding excess stock. This innovative approach allows for better visibility, control, and coordination across multiple stakeholders, enabling a more adaptive and responsive supply chain.

Virtualizing inventory through Addition’s AddParts Customer Portal allows organizations to achieve efficient inventory management, reducing costs and optimizing stock levels while avoiding stockouts.

Going one step further, the integration of such virtual inventories with production planning systems enables agile production, facilitating rapid response to changing market demands, shortening lead times, and ensuring timely delivery. Additionally, the combination of digital libraries and production planning systems help mitigate supply chain disruptions by proactively identifying and addressing potential bottlenecks, allowing organizations to implement a JIC approach without the burden of excessive physical inventory.

While the adoption of virtual inventories requires careful planning and integration, Addition works closely with customers to help them take that first step in building digital copies of critical parts or even improve existing parts. With our deep understanding of automatic packing line components, we apply the most suitable materials and technologies to swiftly restore operations, minimising any financial and organisational impact on the customer.


Pharmaceutical Packing Lines – Reducing Downtime

Pharmaceutical packing lines play a vital role in the production and distribution of medicines and other pharmaceutical products. However, downtime in these facilities can have serious consequences, including lost productivity, missed deadlines, and increased costs. In this blog post, we will explore how additive manufacturing (AM) can help reduce downtime in pharmaceutical packing lines.

Despite the best efforts of pharmaceutical companies to maintain their equipment, with the high volumes that are put through these machines, unexpected downtime is a reality that can occur at any time. When a line goes down unexpectedly, it can lead to a cascade of issues, such as delays in product delivery, loss of production time, and reduced customer satisfaction. The effects of prolonged downtime on pharmaceutical packing lines can be significant. Lost productivity, missed deadlines, and increased costs can all impact a company’s bottom line. Moreover, delays in the delivery of pharmaceutical products can lead to serious consequences, such as patient harm or regulatory non-compliance.

For example, if a machine fails during the packaging process, it can lead to errors in dosage or contamination, which can compromise the safety and efficacy of the product. In addition, pharmaceutical packaging lines require high standards of cleanliness and hygiene, and any unplanned downtime can affect the sterility of the environment.

According to a report by Deloitte, unplanned downtime can cost manufacturers up to $3.6 million per year in lost production and maintenance expenses. This includes costs associated with equipment repairs, replacement parts, labour, and lost production.

In addition to these direct costs, downtime can also have indirect financial implications, such as lost revenue and damage to a company’s reputation. If a company is unable to fulfil orders due to downtime, it may lose revenue and potentially even customers. Customers and stakeholders can quickly lose confidence in a company’s ability to deliver quality products on time, which can have long-lasting effects on the company’s bottom line. Downtime can also impact a company’s ability to meet regulatory requirements, which can lead to fines and legal fees.

To minimize the financial impact of downtime, it’s important for pharmaceutical companies to have a proactive maintenance and repair strategy in place. This can include regular equipment inspections, predictive maintenance, and quick response times for repairs.

Additive manufacturing can help reduce downtime in pharmaceutical packing lines by providing a fast and flexible solution to repair or replace damaged or worn-out parts. With the ability to manipulate data obtained using 3D scanning, companies can reproduce parts in CAD and print them on their machines within 5-7 days. This significantly reduces the time required to wait for replacement parts, minimizing the impact of downtime on productivity.

Addition call this the “break-to-make” time: the duration of time between a critical part breaking and the machine, making the product again, with replacements. As a company, Addition makes this process as efficient as possible by using 3D scanning, virtual stock holding and additive manufacturing in traceable materials meaning it is very simple for engineering teams to find the part they need through their own virtual inventory and order it to be back on their machine in 4-5 business days.

Addition works with its customers to build digital copies of critical parts, enabling Addition to be the first responder when unplanned downtime occurs. The team at Addition understand the stresses that components on a pharmaceutical packing line go through and so have the knowledge to apply the most appropriate material and technology to get its customers up and running as quickly as possible, significantly reducing the impact on the pharmaceutical industry of unplanned downtime.