10 Steps to Establish Best Practices in Maintenance Management

10_tips_maintenance_managementEstablishing best practices in production maintenance is an achievable goal. But it’s a goal that many talk about but few achieve. So why is it so difficult? And, why are so many manufactures still running at over 90 percent reactive?

Many blame it on the age of their manufacturing assets and the repairs they require. More blame goes to not stocking the critical (and expensive) spares needed to sustain production. And still more can be blamed on today’s fast-paced manufacturing that doesn’t allow for proper planning or time management.

Rather than play the “blame” game, what steps can be taken to proactively reach world-class maintenance in this reactive environment? Here is what I would propose:

  1. The first step of any journey to best practices is to gather as much data as possible on machine downtime, meantime-between-failure, parts spend, tech utilization, technician response time and percentage of deliveries made on time. With this, you can begin to calculate the average cost of one hour of downtime.
  2. Given your estimate on the average cost of one hour of downtime you can then begin to measure the effect of maintenance on production. By making some simple assumptions (based on the cost of one hour or downtime), how much would an improvement of only five percent in machine availability be worth to your operation? Although it seems like a small amount, a five percent improvement can provide remarkable results.
  3. Now look through the variables in your operation. How much more savings would be possible by initiating a plan for critical spares? What effect would an increased response time have on providing more machine availability? How would a work order system improve uptime?
  4. As you analyze these variables you will start to see opportunities to add more value. Now it’s time to invest. Adding a Computerized Maintenance Monitoring System (CMMS) could have a monumental effect on virtually all your variables. That’s because a CMMS system could provide work order information, it could also increase technician response time, which lowers your mean time to repair and reduces the amount of downtime.
  5. Now that you are inputting work orders through the CMMS, every manufacturing asset in you operation is shown at the touch of a computer screen. Critical parts and spares can be tracked. Preventative maintenance (PMs) can be scheduled and checklists generated.
  6. Moving from reactive requires planning for your technician’s time as well as planning for having the right part at the right time. That’s why introducing a scheduler planning function can be one more way drive out downtime by maximizing machine PMs.
  7. So now we are moving from a reactive model to more proactive model. But where do we go next? Welcome to predictive tools. Along with a good PM checklist it’s important to develop a predictive PM checklist as well. Electrical equipment should have a thermography PM included to look for overheating issue. Rotating equipment should be scheduled for vibration analysis. And airlines need ultrasound scanning for air leaks.
  8. So where do we go after predictive? Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) takes the maintenance to the next level by involving the operator. No one knows the day-to-day operation of a manufacturing asset better than the operator. So why not provide some simple ways that the operator can assist with maintenance. These could be a simple as installing sight gauges to monitor fluid levels or cleaning and repainting the asset to make leaks or malfunction more visible.
  9. Now we are on the road to reliability. Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) puts it all together. Through this concept, your operations become more experiential. Individual machines are no longer brought down for scheduled PMs on a scheduled basis. Rather, they are run to the threshold of failure to assure the most productivity possible. In some cases, run to failure is permitted based on cost and mean time to repair.
  10. Moving the needle from reactive maintenance to best practices in maintenance takes time, a complete cultural shift and talented maintenance technicians. And with today’s skilled labor shortage finding and retaining skilled technicians can be difficult. So it is conceivable that you might need help from a third party – not only to find talented technicians – but help to establish the proper metrics and processes within your operation. To find the right third party provider don’t be afraid to reach out to that providers customers and ask the tough questions that only a customer can answer. Next congratulate yourself for starting this journey to Lean maintenance. It’s an investment that will pay handsome dividends for years to come.

Jeffrey Owens


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