Preventative vs. Predictive Maintenance

Posted by ICS on Mar 29th 2018

It is never a good thing to experience a system failure, which can result in unexpected partial or full shutdown, expensive repair costs, loss of revenue, and other negative impacts on your business.

A comprehensive preventative maintenance plan — one which takes into account the environment of the facility, standard equipment usage, and operating hours — can go a long way toward preventing system failure. There is a way to stay even further ahead of the curve, however: predictive maintenance.

By incorporating a policy of continuous monitoring, a core example of predictive maintenance, you can detect and remediate failures before they occur.

Download our eBook to learn how not implementing Predictive or Preventative Maintenance can impact your bottom line.

Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is a precautionary approach. Maintenance is scheduled in advance on a per-facility, per-system, or per-component basis. During these scheduled maintenance sessions, held at fixed intervals, consumable parts are replaced and any issues that may have come up are remedied.

Typically, a preventative maintenance plan for an air compressor consists of:

  • Daily inspections of major components by facility personnel
  • Oil level checks
  • Fittings and connections check, to ensure tight fit
  • Oil sampling
  • Filter and oil changing
  • System walk through and evaluation
  • And so on

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a more active approach. By monitoring key parameters of your system, predictive maintenance seeks, as its name implies, to predict where failure may occur. In this way, the developing issue can be rectified before it causes any damage, loss of product, or emergency shutdowns.


Proper predictive maintenance can catch early signs of leaks, system failure, and other issues that, under less proactive maintenance plans, could go unnoticed for some time. A typical predictive maintenance plan for an air compressor includes regular inspections, a range of external sensors, and lubrication oil analyzation to track levels of contamination. 

Benefits of a such a plan include:

  • Cost savings in oil, oil changes, and installation
  • Extended compressor lifespan
  • Elimination of expensive emergency repairs

Traditional Service Agreement vs Service Agreement with Monitoring

A traditional service agreement is one that relies on reactive maintenance — after a compressor issue has caused problems, it is then diagnosed and fixed. The end result is a functioning compressor, but you will already have lost production time and paid hefty emergency repair fees.

With a service agreement with monitoring — in other words, a predictive maintenance service agreement such as the one offered by Industrial Compressor Solutions — the end result is a functioning compressed air system while minimizing the failures, downtime, and lost profits that you would experience with a traditional service agreement.

To help highlight the difference between these two different maintenance methods, here’s an example of a common compressor problem, contaminated oil.

Screenshot 2017-07-12 15.47.00.pngTraditional Service Agreement

A compressor that has been running properly with no issue starts to develop a small oil leak (or perhaps the cooler is beginning to get dirty — the two issues have similar symptoms and solutions), but nobody is aware of it. As oil level slowly drops, the compressor can no longer reject heat properly and its temperature begins to rise, and still nobody is aware of it.

As the temperature rises and oil leak continues, the lifespan of the remaining oil, and the filter as well, begin to drop. The rate of oil carryover is increasing and now the filters and dryers are working harder, and still nobody is aware of it. Next the bearings begin to suffer damage, the dryer is beginning to overheat, and still nobody knows.

At this point, the compressor is being fatally compromised, but no alarm has been risen. The compressor will eventually suffer permanent damage and shut down, consequently shutting down production — and still nobody at the facility knows that it is the compressor that has caused the issue. That won’t be known until a compressor expert has a chance to inspect the system, and that could be days after shutdown.

Service Agreement with Monitoring

With a maintenance plan that includes both preventative and predictive maintenance, this scenario plays out much differently.

A compressor that is running properly is being monitored by the service company, and the monitoring remains in place as a small oil leak develops. As the compressor loses its ability to reject heat and its temperature starts to rise, the service company makes notes and begins carefully monitoring the temperature rise.

When the temperature reaches a certain point, alarms are triggered at the service company and they are alerted of an impending issue. The service company then contacts the compressor owner, notifies them of the issue, and recommends a fix for it. The compressor owner conducts a brief shut down, performs the basic maintenance suggested by the service company, and is up and running with a healthy compressor in a matter of minutes. The service company then resumes standard monitoring.

ICS Monitoring Metrics

As part of our service agreement with monitoring, Industrial Compressor Solutions combines both preventative and predictive maintenance measures. By monitoring three key metrics, we can keep your compressors running smooth and avoid unexpected shutdowns:

  • Maintenance Parameters — These include standard maintenance practices, such as filter changes, that are performed when predictive monitoring suggests that they should be, as opposed to at arbitrary intervals such as every 2,000 hours.
  • Operational Parameters — These include metrics like oil level, oil quality, and compressor temperature; monitoring them allow ICS to catch problems before they cause a shutdown.
  • Efficiency Parameters — In monitoring various parameters, ICS collects data that we can use to suggest various efficiency upgrades, helping you reduce operating costs and increase output.

Working with ICS

preventative-maintenance-3d.pngIndustrial Compressor Solutions uses a state of the art 24-hour a day monitoring system as the core of our predictive maintenance program. When combined with our high quality preventative maintenance practices, ICS can detect failures, and early warning signs of failures, long before the wreak havoc on your systems.

To learn more about how ICS can help keep your facilities running smoothly and efficiently, download our Preventative Maintenance eBook for free today.