Seven tips to improving maintenance
Equipment maintenance costs can take a significant bite out of the bottom line, while malfunctioning equipment means production losses and unhappy customers, so it makes obvious sense to improve maintenance practices to reduce equipment shutdowns due to breakdowns or unplanned maintenance.
Here are a few tips to help avoid shutdowns and improve profits.
1 Regularly check your maintenance procedures and see how you can simplify them. Over time, many of your maintenance procedures will have grown longer. They also may have become confusing or contradictory. You may find that some steps may not be needed any longer. New procedures and tools or better spare parts may make them redundant. There is also a natural process for job instructions to grow over time! Frequently more and more detailed steps are added to ensure that the job is done just right. However, people get confused with too much complexity. The maintenance technicians will start to check off checklists without really doing all the steps. So, use a regular review to identify the most important steps and specify them correctly.
2 Educate non-maintenance personnel to identify possible maintenance problems and how to report them. For example, an unusual noise during machine operation that may signal a potential bearing failure. Use the maintenance request management features in your maintenance software. This will make it easier for them to request maintenance or report potential problems.
3 Make sure to have the right tools – maintenance management software, for your needs. When looking for CMMS software it may be tempting to get products with a rich list of features. These can be things like fancy reports, integration with other systems, advanced monitoring or prediction capabilities and so on. However, in many cases the value of the system will depend on the efforts you put into it. If you put “garbage in” you will get “garbage out”! If a lot of information needs to be collected and entered, you can be sure that it will not be done after some time. Integration with other systems may be incorrectly done or not implemented at all resulting in bad data.
Equipment monitoring systems can fail. They may need regular maintenance and calibration which may not be done. This results in bad data or missed equipment maintenance. You should get the “right-sized” CMMS package that will work for your needs and that your team can handle without too much effort.
4 Estimate future spare parts and supply needs. You do not want to run out of spare parts or supplies when you have major preventive maintenance due! Your maintenance software may have a report to check availability of parts and technicians for future dates when work orders are due. This can be useful as it provides warnings when parts are estimated to be insufficient for future work orders. This allows you to order them in advance from suppliers rather than waiting till re-order limits are reached to order supplies.
5 Give priority to equipment breakdowns based on whether delays in fixing them are acceptable. For example, if one machine of several similar machines fail it may not be so much of an emergency if the other machines can handle the lost production. Alternatively you may be able to “borrow” a replacement from the vendor. This will give you some flexibility in deciding when to fix equipment breakdowns.
6 Use historical data to identify equipment that breaks down frequently. Identify the most common causes and see if regular preventive maintenance would have reduced these breakdowns. You may decide to replace such equipment if more reliable alternatives are available.
7 Create a maintenance calendar of work to be done in the next month, quarter or year by equipment and or location. Share maintenance dates on critical equipment with operations. Make sure that it will not conflict with their plans.
Information for this Special Report provided by Sanjay Murthi, Sales Manager, SMGlobal Inc., a maintenance management software company based in Apex, North Carolina.