PMO: Eliminating the Domino Effect of Equipment Failure

One of a life sciences organization’s worst nightmares is equipment failure in a research facility. Any type of life sciences equipment can malfunction anywhere, at any time, causing a domino effect of increasingly critical failures. For example, if an HVAC system fails, it leads to a loss of humidity and temperature control, air purity, and air filtration. Ultimately, operations are halted—a worst-case scenario that inevitably hurts the bottom line and can even impact customers who depend on the organization to produce medicines or products they need to survive.

Fortunately, life sciences facilities today are protected with numerous preventative maintenance protocols to reduce the likeliness of this domino effect. However, most of these protocols are built on calendar-based servicing to ensure that equipment and facilities are maintained according to product specifications. A better approach to life sciences facility protection is planned maintenance optimization (PMO), in which equipment is maintained according to usage rather than an arbitrary calendar date.

Planned maintenance optimization

Planned maintenance optimization is an analytical process that takes preventative maintenance one big step further, anticipating potentially disruptive circumstances before they happen. Where traditional equipment maintenance is calendar-driven, PMO uses high-tech system monitoring to predict when equipment is likely to fail. Using contemporary tools and techniques such as tribology, vibration analysis, thermography, and sonic listening devices, maintenance staff can maximize the lifespan of equipment and prevent disastrous failures. PMO balances maintenance requirements with regulatory, economic, and technical factors so that people, spare parts, consumable equipment, and facilities are all utilized property and safety, and always operating at full efficiency. At its most basic level, PMO allows equipment managers to determine the optimum set of maintenance tasks to be performed on systems and equipment, and integrate all tasks into a holistic, living process that allows for continuous improvements. This is especially critical as better maintenance and monitoring tools become available and new best practices are implemented.

In addition, engineers can use PMO to identify adverse failure trends, conduct root-cause analysis of failure events, report maintenance feedback, conduct predictive analyses, monitor system performance, and introduce equipment design modifications. For example, vibration analytics monitor an HVAC motor’s health and alert the maintenance personnel of impending issues before the equipment fails. Predictive analytics allow the maintenance team to order the parts, schedule the shutdown, and complete the repair with the least amount of downtime and interruption to production.

The ROI of PMO

The payoff of a PMO program is substantial. In addition to improvements in system availability (uptime), equipment reliability, and system safety, overall maintenance costs are reduced by an industry average of 25% annually when a PMO program is implemented at just one life sciences facility.

Some of the world’s leading life sciences organizations are already realizing the direct and indirect benefits of PMO. The annual return on such an investment is full payback in within 1–2 years, and the long-term maintenance savings generated are significant—saving an average midsized life sciences organization $20 million annually.

Without a maintenance optimization strategy, the safety, operational efficiency, and profitability of life sciences facilities may be at risk. PMO avoids worst-case scenarios while improving the bottom line.

Dick Auger is Director, cGxP Center of Excellence for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Life sciences practice, Chicago, IL, U.S.A.;; e-mail: