Three Steps to Prescriptive Maintenance - Emerson Automation Experts

Three Steps to Prescriptive Maintenance

Process manufacturers and producers practice many forms of maintenance as part of their efforts toward more reliable operations. These include reactive, preventive, predictive and most recently thanks the advancements in the Industrial Internet of Things technologies—prescriptive maintenance.

Emerson's Will Goetz

In a Plant Engineering article, The path to prescriptive maintenance: Three steps to drive reliability while preparing for IIoT, Emerson’s Will Goetz describes how to undertake this journey toward more reliable operations. He opens noting that many companies:

…worry about their readiness and feel overwhelmed thinking about the expense of preparations, particularly those organizations that are still moving from reactive and preventive to predictive maintenance (PdM). Now the topic is prescriptive maintenance, where analytics can show that a piece of equipment is headed for trouble and can prescribe prioritized, pre-determined, expert-driven mitigation or repair.

Will explains that this move to prescription maintenance does not need to happen all at once, but rather that:

…reliability organizations and companies can perform many activities today to prepare for the IIoT and for prescriptive maintenance while simultaneously finding immediate reductions in maintenance costs and increased availability.

Technology alone is not the answer to benefits such as downtime elimination. It occurs:

…as companies move away from old habits such as reactive or preventive maintenance and are prepared to act on detailed information that predicts asset failure.

Before prescriptive maintenance can be established as an enduring practice and IIoT technologies can be successfully applied, you should:

  • Prepare your culture to be proactive
  • Integrate your condition monitoring program with your maintenance work management processes
  • Implement a continuous improvement process.

Will notes:

Top performing facilities enjoy consistently strong reliability. In fact, top performers have high mechanical availability and low maintenance costs simultaneously… Lower performing manufacturers seem always to be fighting the most attention-grabbing issue, while process availability suffers.

This is because:

…most failures occur at random equipment age intervals, a time-based preventive maintenance activity can permit an unplanned shutdown, resulting in more downtime than if the plant were using a predictive approach. Hard failures of assets are often more expensive to repair due to fees associated with obtaining parts on short notice, collateral damage to the asset, and the costs of scheduling resources on short notice.

Read the article for more on business impact of reliability on companies in different performance quartiles and the importance of establishing the company culture in successfully moving to a prescriptive maintenance approach and top quartile performance in reliability.

If you’re going IMC 2017—The 32nd International Maintenance Conference next week in Florida, Will will be presenting on these 3 steps to prescriptive maintenance. He’ll expand on the many things that are possible in moving to a prescriptive maintenance-based practice. You can also connect and interact with other maintenance & reliability experts in the Reliability & Maintenance group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.


  1. My humble opinion is that investment in asset and equipment monitoring has a defined purpose in itself and as such should fit into a new philosophy of ‘Prescriptive’ maintenance. In fact smart field devices already have a significant installed base and effort should go into procedural enablement for assets that can already provide benefit. IIoT is available here and now but the analytics for meaningful reporting still needs some preparation. Innovative and intuitive service providers are ready and willing to meet those challenges with their clients.

    • Jim Cahill says:

      Richard, Thanks for your comment and you’re right that the analytics can still improve to up with the sensing. Wireless field devices, as a part of IIoT, have been with us for a decade now, but the variety keeps expanding. Service providers through their remote experts can definitely play a large role in a prescriptive maintenance program.

  2. Jonas Berge says:

    I personally believe Digital Transformation (DX) of how the plant is run and maintained is key to achieving operational excellence such as improve reliability and reduce maintenance cost, but also to improve energy efficiency, reduce HS&E incidents and response time, and increase productivity etc. Many plants are already successful with digital transformation including a mix of on-premise digital and IIoT solutions starting from digital sensors on wireless and fieldbus. Learn how other plants do it from this essay:

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