Posted at 29 June 2018

Don't Just React: Act!

Paul Skade
By Mark Carpenter
Product Manager, Industrial Hose

I am a former Engineer on Submarines in the Royal Navy and got in to the Hose industry in 2010 becoming the UK Sales Manager for Norres in 2014, ERIKS was my majo...

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Reactive maintenance is a policy that’s been made to sound respectable by giving it a professional sounding name. But when you consider that it’s essentially waiting until something goes wrong, then running round panicking until it’s fixed, it doesn’t sound quite such a good way to operate. 

festo automation


When the failure in question is something as simple as the ink running out in a labeller, it’s not necessarily such a problem to fix it. Even so, the resulting stoppage can cause significant impacts on costs, productivity and reputation. In food manufacturing for example, the consequences of an unplanned stoppage can lead to entire product batches being spoiled, which in turn means missed delivery targets and potentially punitive penalties – in addition to an eroding of trust between supplier and customer.

However, increasing digitalisation is now driving changes for the better in industry’s approach to maintenance.

One outcome is the evolution of condition monitoring, which enables more predictive maintenance. Or in other words, it allows engineers – instead of just reacting – to act in advance to prevent a fault becoming critical and affecting production. Data about the product, the environment, and wear and tear help to indicate when and where faults are developing, so:

  • issues can be anticipated
  • maintenance outages can be better timed
  • causes of unplanned stoppages can be avoided altogether.


It has been known for many years that using prevention rather than cure in a maintenance regime results in real time and cost benefits. Now further advances in automation have the potential to evolve this approach for even greater returns.

Service life characteristics

One way that prevention is proving to increase efficiency, reduce downtime and ensure safe-running machinery is demonstrated by Festo’s identification of product service life characteristics.

All product series which leave Festo’s factory are subjected to comprehensive functional and endurance tests, in the development phase and during most phases of the product lifecycle.  They allow us to continuously optimise our products, so they offer a longer service life, greater economic efficiency and higher reliability.

An understanding of the service life of a product is important for preventative maintenance.  Service life specifications are based on the technology, and for products subject to mechanical wear are indicated in the form of switching cycles or running performance. For electronic products, they are in the form of operating hours or years. All types of service life specifications are used at Festo, regardless of whether they apply to mechanical, pneumatic or electronic components. 

Plant modernisation

Another approach to reducing maintenance, extending plant service life and increasing productivity is plant modernisation.

A successful plant modernisation can be all that’s required to transform an old, used plant into one that’s (nearly) new and innovative. This can be achieved by, for example, incorporating functions that the unmodernised plant could not have fulfilled – such as sensor technology for condition monitoring, diagnostics and preventive maintenance; the introduction of energy efficiency; or updated pneumatic and electrical components. Modernisation is the solution that combines innovation and increased productivity.

If the plant is required to remain operational, retrofit could be the way to proceed. However individual components may no longer be classed as state-of-the-art, may no longer be energy-efficient, or their reliability may be compromised.

Know your production line

Having a thorough understanding of your production line cycles, and components within the line, allows you to implement an intelligent preventative maintenance program that will lead to:

  • reduced costs
  • modernised production processes
  • lower power consumption
  • extended service life
  • reduced downtime
  • improved production quality
  • enhanced safety for employees, machines and the environment
  • long-term continuous supply of spare parts.


For more useful tips and information on product service life, make sure you download the Product Service Life document from Festo, at

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