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September 7, 2023

5 Types of Fluid Dispensing System Preventative Maintenance

Technician using the Designetics Precision Air Compliance® on glass

What is Preventative Maintenance? Preventative maintenance refers to the practice of conducting routine upkeep tasks with the goal of preventing unexpected system failures in the future...

What is Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance refers to the practice of conducting routine upkeep tasks with the goal of preventing unexpected system failures in the future. It’s about addressing potential issues before they escalate into real problems.

Advantages of Preventative Maintenance:

  • Extends Equipment Longevity: Regularly scheduled maintenance checks and inspections ensure that your equipment will last for its intended lifespan, while also keeping warranties current. This translates to financial benefits in the long run, as you can maximize the value gained from your assets.
  • Minimizes Operational Expenditures: By overseeing both scheduled and emergency maintenance, as well as keeping an eye on inventory and replacement parts, you acquire a deeper understanding of your operation’s needs. This understanding allows you to substantially cut down on maintenance-related expenses.
  • Enhances Workforce Efficiency: When a team is well-organized, it’s easier for tasks to be completed and for goals to be achieved more effectively. A streamlined approach to operations—such as scheduled maintenance windows and clear communication channels—enables team members to focus on their primary responsibilities.
  • Limits Unexpected Outages: Detecting needed repairs in the early phases of the equipment lifecycle keeps operations up and running, reducing downtime. A smoother production process helps avoid urgent and unplanned repairs.

It’s important to note that there’s no universal, one-size-fits-all maintenance strategy. A successful and resource-efficient preventative maintenance program typically involves a blend of various types of maintenance approaches. This tailored combination allows for the most effective and efficient way to manage assets and operations.

Time-Based Maintenance

When discussions arise about preventative maintenance, what many people are actually talking about is time-based maintenance. This approach involves replacing or servicing an item at specific time intervals, or after a set amount of use, no matter what its current condition is. The rationale behind this is the expectation that such actions will considerably improve the reliability of the part or system in question.

A Real-World Example

“In the realm of fluid transfer systems, Time-based Maintenance has become a crucial strategy for managing the tubing that channels fluid from the container to the applicator. The longevity of this tubing isn’t just a guessing game; it’s actually quantifiable and can be closely tied to RPMs over a period of time. Once production is underway, this enables manufacturers to predict the tubing’s life cycle with remarkable accuracy. They can then plan a convenient replacement schedule to maximize both the value and the functional lifespan of the tubing. By taking this proactive approach, manufacturers effectively sidestep unexpected equipment downtime, ensuring that their systems remain in optimal condition—both clean and fully operational.” Jeffrey Schnapp, Regional Sales Manager at Designetics

But it’s important to note that time-based maintenance is most effective for addressing failures related to age, or when you need to meet specific compliance or regulatory requirements that come with time constraints. In these scenarios, the time-based approach makes the most sense because it directly targets the underlying factors contributing to the wear and tear or legal mandates.

For other types of failures that are less predictable, time-based maintenance may not be the most efficient or cost-effective strategy.

Failure Finding Maintenance

The goal of certain maintenance tasks is to uncover hidden failures, often related to safety features like pressure valves or trip transmitters. These pieces of equipment usually come into play only when something else goes wrong. So, it everyday operations, you might not realize if they’re still working as they should—these are what we call hidden failures. It’s crucial to detect these issues beforehand so you can trust these safety mechanisms when you actually need them.

It’s important to consider that these failure-finding tasks don’t prevent the failure from occurring; they’re designed to detect it. Once a problem is found, you’ll need to fix it. This type of maintenance is usually done at set times, often determined by legal requirements or risk assessments.

Condition-Based Maintenance

Many types of failure aren’t directly linked to the age of a machine or part. However, most failures do give some kind of early warning sign. Spotting these signs in time can help you either prevent the failure altogether or at least reduce its impact. Condition-based maintenance focuses on finding these early warning signs that indicate a failure might be on the horizon. While many people associate condition-based maintenance mainly with monitoring rotating equipment like fans or motors, it actually has a wider range of applications beyond just vibration monitoring.

A Real-World Example

“In the Designetics fluid delivery system, we employ an innovative air desiccant to act as a safeguard against particulate and moisture intrusion, but only during the pumping stage. This not only protects the fluid from contamination but also provides real-time monitoring through a visually intuitive system. The desiccant tube starts off blue and transitions to a shade of pink as it accumulates impurities. This color change serves as an easily identifiable sign that the desiccant is reaching the end of its functional life. By replacing the tube just before it turns completely pink, we preemptively mitigate any potential quality issues stemming from contamination. It’s a smart, self-monitoring system designed to uphold the highest standards of quality and reliability.” – Jeffrey Schnapp, Regional Sales Manager at Designetics

It’s key to understand that condition-based maintenance doesn’t actually prevent failures from happening. Instead, its purpose is to catch issues before they turn into full-blown failures, making it more cost-effective and less disruptive than waiting for a breakdown. In simple terms, condition-based maintenance helps you spot trouble early on. Once you’ve identified a potential issue, the next step is to take corrective action to address it before it leads to a failure.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance can be thought of as an advanced form of condition-based maintenance. In predictive maintenance, a wide range of data from online sensors is analyzed to understand whether the equipment is veering away from stable operating conditions and heading towards a breakdown. Sometimes, the measurements might not even directly relate to the condition of the equipment.

This approach is most effective when you have a deep understanding of the failure mode you’re facing, along with various kinds of measurements to gauge if a failure is imminent. Due to the complexity and costs involved, predictive maintenance is generally reserved for dealing with more intricate failure modes or those with significant consequences.

Risk-Based Maintenance

Risk-based maintenance prioritizes maintenance resources by assessing the risks associated with each asset’s potential failure. This risk is calculated by considering both the likelihood of failure and the severity of its consequences. As a result, equipment posing higher risks or having severe consequences if they fail will receive more frequent maintenance checks. Implementing a risk-based maintenance strategy effectively lowers the overall risk of failure across your facility in a cost-efficient manner.

Risk-based maintenance is a form of preventative maintenance where both the frequency and extent of maintenance activities are continuously fine-tuned. This optimization is based on results from tests or inspections, along with a comprehensive risk assessment.

Preventative vs Reactive Maintenance

The tendency to view preventive and predictive maintenance as entirely separate approaches oversimplifies their relationship. In truth, predictive maintenance is an advanced form of preventive maintenance. Both aim to proactively identify and head off mechanical failures, but predictive maintenance takes this to a more refined level. For instance, preventive maintenance relies on general guidelines about when a piece of industrial equipment is likely to need servicing, based on the make and model of the machine. This provides a rough idea of when maintenance should take place.

Predictive maintenance, however, uses a more data-driven approach for pinpoint accuracy. It combines information about a machine’s expected lifespan with historical data on that specific unit’s performance. With this added layer of data, predictive maintenance models can make highly accurate forecasts about when system failures are likely to occur. This precision avoids unnecessary repairs and helps keep maintenance budgets in check. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has provided a boon to predictive maintenance, supplying the constant stream of data needed to make these highly accurate maintenance predictions.

Fluid Dispensing System Preventative Maintenance Checklist

Regular preventative maintenance is crucial for ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your fluid dispensing system. A well-maintained system not only operates more efficiently but also helps in avoiding unexpected downtime.

Here is a preventative maintenance checklist to help you keep your fluid dispensing system in top condition:

  • Check Fluid Levels: Regularly monitor and replenish fluids to ensure proper dispensing.
  • Inspect Seals: Look for wear and tear or leaks and replace as necessary.
  • Clean Applicators: Remove any build-up or clogs to ensure an even flow and clean application.
  • Examine Hoses and Tubes: Check for cracks, leaks, or any signs of wear.
  • Calibrate System: Make sure the system is dispensing the correct amount of fluid; recalibrate if necessary.
  • Test Safety Features: Ensure that all emergency stops and safety mechanisms are functioning correctly.
  • Check Electrical Connections: Inspect and tighten any loose wires or electrical connections.
  • Clean Filters: Remove, clean, and replace filters to ensure optimal fluid flow.
  • Verify Pump Operation: Make sure the pump is operating correctly and efficiently.
  • Inspect Control Panels: Ensure that all buttons, switches, and displays are functioning as expected.
  • Lubricate Moving Parts: Apply the appropriate lubricant to any gears, bearings, or other moving parts.
  • Review Software Updates: Make sure the system’s software is up to date, and update if necessary.

By regularly following this checklist, you can help ensure that your fluid dispensing system operates efficiently and reliably, reducing the likelihood of unexpected issues.


This article serves as a complete guide to understanding various approaches to preventative maintenance for fluid dispensing systems. From the fundamentals of time-based and failure-finding maintenance to the nuanced practices of condition-based, predictive and risk-based maintenance, it’s clear that an effective preventative maintenance strategy is multi-faceted. Employing a blend of these methods tailored to your unique requirements not only enhances efficiency but also cuts down on maintenance costs and avoids unplanned outages.

When it comes to sophisticated fluid dispensing systems, there’s no room for cutting corners on maintenance. This is where Designetics sets the standard. Our solutions are engineered for maximum performance, durability, and ease of maintenance. Whether you’re looking for state-of-the-art fluid applicators or comprehensive dispensing equipment, we’ve got you covered. Keep your systems running at peak efficiency and lower your total cost of ownership with Designetics—the leader in fluid applicators and automated dispensing systems.