Make preventive maintenance work for you.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…but wouldn’t it be great to fix the problem before the house burns down? That is the concept behind planned preventive maintenance and it absolutely works when executed properly. It seems to be an obvious step one would take in smart manufacturing, but like many great things, it is easier said than done.
What is Preventive Maintenance and Why Should I Bother?
Planned preventive maintenance is a series of scheduled inspections and repairs that are performed on manufacturing assets to avoid problems down the road. By proactively checking in on your machines, you can find issues and fix them before disaster strikes. And you get to do it according to your schedule.
Think about cleaning the gutters in a home. Everything seems perfectly fine, so it’s easy to leave them be. Over time, the leaves and muck start collecting. Rain or snow start to get blocked due to this wall of goo that has developed and then it all runs down the walls. This affects the foundation of the home and greater damage begins. So now not only are the leaves much heavier and more disgusting to clear, but a company needs to come in and fix the new cracks that happened as a result. Had there been a little less Netflix and an hour dedicated to the gutters, this would have been a much easier and cheaper problem to solve.
The Benefits of Planned Preventive Maintenance
Without mincing words, the number one and most obvious benefit to implementing an effective preventive maintenance schedule is MONEY. As explained, when an asset is neglected, the problems become much worse and more expensive to deal with. By repairing a collection of smaller problems in a scheduled timeframe, system failures are significantly reduced along with unplanned downtime. Margins and profits remain as projected, instead of expensive spending on emergency labor and rush shipping.
By showing the love in advance, your assets will love you back. Their lifetime gets longer and better! The initial system return on investment (ROI) becomes even greater, and it will work as it should with minimal unplanned interruptions. And the love gets paid forward! By treating these assets right, this will trickle down to the manufacturing team, both physically and mentally. If a system is working properly, it is simply safer and employees become less frustrated and more effective.
Wow, Preventive Maintenance is the Best Thing Ever! Why aren’t we doing it?
No doubt, there are probably a lot of reasons to not have a preventive maintenance plan in place. Like anything worth having, it is not easy to implement. Here are the top 3 reasons why:
3. There is always something more pressing to do.
2. We already have a routine that is working.
1. We don’t have the time to do this.
These are all very convincing points, especially when considering how much time initial ramp-up will take. To execute preventive maintenance well, you will need a list of all the equipment you are dealing and their stories. Have they broken down before? Where is the documentation? When does the warranty period end? Often, this information isn’t readily available, and people need to be available to collect it. While some companies may have people standing by to tackle a project of this magnitude, most don’t.
Collecting the data is one thing, organizing it in a useful, systematic way is another. If data collection isn’t already automated that brings the challenge to the next level. They say you need to spend money to make money and the same applies to time. Once the initial legwork is done there are computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) available to help stick to the plan and stay on schedule.
Don't forget, make sure the asset is worth it. If there is equipment that is non-critical and/or easy to repair/replace then keep doing that. If an asset is custom and crucial, the ROI of planned preventative maintenance is constant and consistent.
The Gift that keeps on Giving
With happier and safer employees efficiently working in their solid equipment, the ROI of preventive maintenance is easy to track. By keeping an eye on labor, equipment and logistics costs, you will see the drop pretty quickly. In a similar vein, you will watch productivity and quality significantly go up due to fewer shutdowns and higher efficacy. It is never too late to get started, it simply takes the commitment to do it.
The best time to have planted an orchard was 20 years ago, the second-best time is today.
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