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January 18, 2023
The History of Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is one of those inventions that has stood the test of time and has become an invaluable tool for industry. From its origins in the 1940s to its current state-of-the-art applications, predictive maintenance is sure to continue improving operations for decades to come.

Predictive maintenance practices can be traced back to the 1940s, when C.H. Waddington developed a process for improving maintenance planning for the British Air Force (RAF).  Waddington challenged the policy of performing scheduled maintenance on Fighter Planes such as the Spitfire and Hurricane every 50 flying hours. 

The introduction of post-flight inspections proved invaluable to the RAF, as it allowed its aircraft to remain operational for longer periods of time. Aircraft were quickly checked over by trained personnel and any issues were promptly reported and attended to. This revolutionary approach resulted in a dramatic increase in effective flying hours – an impressive 60% more than before – allowing pilots to complete more sorties and have more time to focus on their missions. The value of post-flight inspections had been demonstrated, and they remained a core part of the RAF's operations for the duration of the war. Today, similar practices are still in use throughout military aviation, ensuring that aircraft remain safe and effective for as long as possible.

The British Air Force's Coastal Command proved that preventive maintenance was the way of the future.

Despite its success, predictive maintenance wasn't widely adopted until the 1990s, and even then it was restricted to the heavy machinery industry. The technology used during this time was primarily route-based manual data collection.

Thanks to the pioneering work of C.H. Waddington and the ever-increasing capabilities of technology, predictive maintenance has become a viable solution for keeping machines running smoothly and efficiently around the world.

It looks like predictive maintenance will remain a front-runner in the industry for many years to come!