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A lot of construction businesses fall back on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to fleet equipment. They think: Why would I ever spend all this money on new and expensive technology when my machine works just fine right now? This is one of the reigning problems in the industry, and it leaves businesses prone to extra costs, unplanned downtime and, most importantly, reduced productivity. Many top construction leaders tend to be proactive toward equipment maintenance, seeing as equipment is one of the most valuable assets of a company.

Business owners may have seen these new buzzwords pop up all over industry news—preventative and predictive maintenance—as they relate to fleet management. These two maintenance methods look to fix the main problems of the industry by stopping them before they start. While their goal of extending the life of the equipment is often thought to be the same approach, these two types of maintenance stand apart from one another in ways that should be known when investing in specific external vendors.

What exactly do these terms mean, and what is the difference between the two? And, more importantly, why is being proactive better than reactive when it comes to your equipment?

Preventative maintenance: a scheduled approach

To start with, preventative maintenance seems to be the lesser of the two phrases in terms of quality (although it’s still better than being reactive). By presuming equipment will inevitably go down and fail over time, becoming preventative stops these failures before they have a major impact on a business, financially and operationally.

Business owners can identify preventative approaches through regularity. By taking data created by past digital research and studies, this maintenance takes into consideration the specific equipment and its expected lifespan from its establishment. This data usually creates regular maintenance intervals for the business to replace and maintain perishable parts before they wear out and fail. Through breakdown minimization and fleet management streamlining, preventative maintenance monitoring constructs an innovative and technological solution for most maintenance problems.

Instead of struggling with unexpected equipment failure on the jobsite, using preventative maintenance can help business owners schedule routine replacements and boost machine uptime.

Predictive maintenance: an AI-powered opportunity

Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, can be most closely related to that of a more popular term: condition-based maintenance. According to Reliable Plant, “Condition monitoring is defined as the measuring of specific equipment parameters, such as vibrations in a machine, its temperature or the condition of its oil, taking note of any significant changes that could be indicative of an impending failure.” Predictive and condition-based maintenance relies heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning to forecast actionable data and steps toward keeping equipment up and running.

Equipment condition maintenance monitoring dates back several decades and has come a long way through different periods of the construction and heavy-duty world. Before the use of high-speed technology, downtime was not the primary focus, as tools and equipment were less complex and easier to repair. However, as technology improved, machines and vehicles became more intricate, which made repairing expensive. This gave monitoring a machine’s health more of a priority as a fleet owner, requiring something more than just putting an ear to the vehicle and listening to the sound of the engine.

This brings us to the current age of technology—in which predictive digitalization has taken over the heavy-duty industry. The push for digitalizing products and services in the market came from businesses relying almost completely on equipment for functionality and operation. However, with the ability to see equipment logistics from devices in a predictive manner, the push for this new technology has never been so crucial.

Which is better?

In theory, any proactive maintenance will be the better choice over reactive maintenance when it comes to maintenance monitoring solutions for a fleet. Either way, business owners are preventing added costs from equipment downtime and reduced operations.

It comes down to what business owners want for their business and what sounds better for their fleet. With preventative maintenance, they can find maintenance easier to plan, cheaper to implement and less complex. On the other side, being predictive allows business owners to make more impactful repairs for their equipment, reduce overall downtime, and lower overall costs by forecasting when vehicles and equipment will need maintenance.

When managing assets, business owners should always plan with anticipation. Being reactive is expensive for a construction company and can risk the safety of operators and technicians. Ideally, a fleet management strategy should include techniques, as they tend to work better when implemented together. Scheduling maintenance while streamlining prognostic data to ensure equipment healthiness and productivity is crucial for the competitive construction environment. Business owners should consider investing in these digital tools to better their foothold in the industry.


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