There are many different explanations of what maintenance is in the technical field. It is a wide concept that contains tests, measurements, replacements, adjustments, repairs etc.that aim to increase the overall health of a system. Even though this broad explanation of maintenance is true for all of our history, maintenance culture is filled with different approaches and procedures for different parts of humankind’s technological timeline. In this blog post, the main focus will be these different maintenance cultures throughout the history and the future of maintenance.

For the majority of our existence, humanity relied on a maintenance approach called Corrective Maintenance. This approach is the earliest one among the maintenance concepts. Malfunctions are addressed and systems are maintained when a failure comes to existence. This approach is solely reactive since systems generated before the industrial revolution contained no condition monitoring or failure analysis process. Due to the smaller volumes of production and less demand from the market, this corrective maintenance approach did not create much of a problem for the pre-industrial revolution era of production.

After the Industrial Revolution maintenance turned into a higher importance issue for plants around the world. Especially widely used boilers started to become a threat for workers due to the commonly occurring failures resulting in explosions. Industry started to implement periodic evaluations on these boiler equipment in order to ensure safety in the work environment. This new method of ensuring the health of the system marks the emergence of a new maintenance approach called Preventive Maintenance. Preventive Maintenance holds the aim of eliminating the possibility of malfunction through periodic maintenance processes at heart. With the increasing demand from the market and growing production volumes this approach started to spread from boilers to a wide variety of machinery in various plants.

Throughout human history wars have always been a driving force behind innovative technologies. After World War 2 industry started to focus more on reliability and availability of systems since it would grant the machinery the vital ability of being able to operate in short notices successfully. This resulted in the birth of a new maintenance approach called Proactive Maintenance. Proactive Maintenance relies on fault analysis and condition monitoring. Fault analysis methods enable users of a system to evaluate a failure alongside its root causes, conduct criticality analysis and eliminate conditions resulting in a malfunction. Condition monitoring systems inform users on vitals of the system through sensors connected to critical equipment. The constant inspection and flow of information enables the operators of the system to observe any differences in the condition of the machinery and to take action before a malfunction occurs.

Nowadays with the increased availability of various sensors and the emergence of the Industry 4.0 concept, condition monitoring technologies became more popular in production sites. The ability to acquire large amounts of data from the machinery facilitated the creation of a new maintenance approach called Predictive Maintenance. Predictive Maintenance utilizes large amounts of data gathered through condition monitoring applications, and conducts analysis to understand the mode of malfunction and creates models to predict the root cause and the remaining useful life of machinery.

Future of maintenance holds infinite possibilities with the constant developments in the machine learning field and AI technology. Solutions such as Sensemore products use AI models to perform these analyses in an automated manner and predict the root causes of malfunctions before they occur. Using AI algorithms to go through large quantities of data gathered from systems, continuous condition monitoring through precise sensors and conducting root cause analysis is the future of maintenance culture.