Increasing production capacity is usually a good thing. Orders are up and business is booming. But that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. If you and your maintenance team aren’t used to (or haven’t planned for) an uptick in demand, you might face some unique challenges. It gets even trickier if the reason you’re ramping up is to provide essential services during a global pandemic
Maybe your resources are pushed to the limit. Or COVID-19 has forced you to work with fewer staff on each shift. Or you have to modify equipment on the fly. There’s also the added stress of taking on new responsibilities.
All of this might be unfamiliar and stressful. That’s why we put together some tips on supporting increased production capacity. Hopefully, these best practices can help relieve some of the uncertainty and pressure you’re facing.
Maintaining health and safety
Making sure you, your team, and the whole facility is safe becomes a bigger challenge when the pace speeds up and you’re being pulled in a million different directions.
“When you’re doing more than your normal capabilities, it usually means people are doing things that they’re not used to doing,” says Jason Afara, Fiix’s solutions engineer. “They aren’t trained or aren’t familiar with tasks or procedures, which increases the chances of accidents.”
You might also have to contend with more unplanned maintenance, which always increases risk, says Fiix’s solutions engineering lead Stuart Fergusson. That means unexpected breakdowns, but also work that’s been pushed forward so your facility can meet deadlines.
Focusing on the well-being of your team will help your entire operation stay safe and stay resilient…Efficiency, availability, and production will follow.
All these risks are magnified in the era of COVID-19 when new dangers are changing the way production facilities are approaching health and safety.
There are a few easy adjustments you can make so you and your maintenance team can tackle the increased workload safely.
Create crash carts for sanitization: This is something that CMMS coordinator and Fiix customer Brandon De Melo put in place at his facility to combat COVID-19. It helped him make sure work stations were sanitized quickly and properly.
Create designated quiet areas for troubleshooting: Fighting a pandemic means social distancing, which isn’t all that easy in a loud workplace. For operations manager Juan Ruiz, his solution was designated quiet areas. It allowed operators and technicians to talk without putting themselves at risk.
Add PPE to every work order: It’s not always easy to adapt to new PPE guidelines that come with new work. Visibility and repetition will help reduce the learning curve.
Set up a cleaning station for tools and parts: It’s no small task to make sure all the supplies that come into your facility are clean and in working condition. Maintenance manager and Fiix user Tom Dufton set up a dedicated station to do the job so it’s done fast and correctly.
Focus on facility maintenance: With machines running as much as possible, you might find fewer chances to inspect, adjust, and repair. When this happened toJuan and his team, they used the time to stock their facility with supplies, like soap and hand sanitizer, and clear obstacles that presented safety risks.
Increase the number of health and safety meetings: The more you talk about health and safety, the more knowledgeable your staff will be about procedures and responsibilities, and how to respond quickly in high-risk situations, says Jason.
Establish mandatory sick leave: This is the strategy endorsed by James Afara, the COO of a cannabis producer. It’s led to a small reduction in staff on a daily basis, but it’s saved employees from spreading illness and the facility from an even bigger impact.
Identify high-risk work orders: Stuart suggests pinpointing work orders that your team is not familiar with, hasn’t done before or puts them at risk so you can create a mitigation plan.
Avoiding burnout and miscommunication will go a long way to keeping your staff healthy and in the best position to get the job done when the intensity at your facility goes through the roof.
Find new ways to communicate with your team: Getting your whole team on the same page is crucial, even if you can’t get them in the same room. Alternative communication tools like video meetings and WhatsApp groups can be really helpful for improving remote communication.
Keep new procedures handy: Make it as easy as possible for your team to follow new guidelines. Create guidelines that technicians can carry with them— either small, physical versions or digital ones they can access on their mobile devices.
Reorganize your shifts: Spreading your maintenance team across shifts will allow you to provide coverage for the facility while creating schedules that your team can count on. This reduces off-hours call-ins and burnout. Tom, James, and Juan have all used this approach to keep things running smoothly while keeping their teams healthy and giving staff the flexibility to take care of personal needs, like childcare.
Put tasks in the hands of operators: Embracing this central tenet of total productive maintenance will help to ease the pressure on your team. Empower operators to do routine maintenance tasks, identify problems, and submit work requests.
Get things done faster
Speed and efficiency can’t come at the expense of your team’s well-being. It also can’t be forgotten. Getting work done fast while putting people first is a tricky tightrope to walk, but hitting the right balance is possible.
Prioritize your tasks: Start by looking at production schedules and asset criticality. We recommend narrowing down the list by checking if any tasks can be done while machines are running or if time-consuming PMs can be replaced with quicker ones without substantially increasing the risk of failure.
Keep track of your backlog: Create a list of work you’ve let slide and update it frequently. This will help you calculate and communicate risk, as well as make a plan to tackle this deferred maintenance in the future, says Jason.
Build emergency kits for critical assets: Put together a kit of parts for critical assets so technicians don’t need to spend time searching for the right spares when things go down or when PMs need to be done.
Do frequent inventory cycle counts: Juan’s team has had difficulty sourcing critical parts because vendors have shut down or have long lead times, which has made frequent visits to the storeroom to check supply quantities more important than ever.
Create a dashboard of important metrics: Prioritize the maintenance metrics you look at every day and create a dashboard for them so you can check the status of your operation without having to create complex reports.
Improve response procedures: Breakdowns are inevitable, no matter how well you plan. Having a list of common failure codes and repair checklists handy for critical equipment can help speed up troubleshooting and repairs.
Modifying equipment—and keeping those machines running—has its fair share of challenges for maintenance. Here are a few tips that can help maintenance teams that find themselves in this position.
Create new health and safety documents: You should treat modified equipment like new equipment, says Fiixer Stuart Fergusson. He recommends reassessing the potential risks, required PPE, emergency procedures and compliance standards. Talk about these details with your team so everyone is on the same page.
Conduct some training: Full-scale training sessions are probably out of the question if you’re operating at hyper-speed. But a little know-how goes a long way when it comes to modifying machines and maintaining them.
Meet with the design team: Get together with the team that designed and installed the new elements for the modified assets, if possible. This way, you can get a better understanding of what scheduled maintenance and parts for the equipment.
Increase the frequency of inspections: Don’t assume the PM guidelines you’re handed for modified equipment are correct. Inspect and inspect some more to make sure new materials or processes aren’t causing failure.
Embrace total productive maintenance: The benefits of TPM go double for modified assets, says Jason. Operators know their machines best. Give them the power to inspect machines and talk about their observations. It’ll allow you to spot small problems on modified equipment before they become big ones.
Keep a list of what’s changed: Did you change the parts you’re using? Or the number of technicians assigned to a task? Track these changes so you can get back to your regular schedule faster once production normalizes.
At the end of the day, it’s about focusing on what’s important
Things might be busier than usual for you right now. You’re getting pulled every which way. Your equipment, processes, and people are strained. Unfortunately, nothing can stop the whirlwind you’re caught in. The good news is, there are things you can control. One of them is what you prioritize. Focusing on the well-being of your team will help your entire operation stay safe and stay resilient. Reducing health risks, avoiding burnout, and recognizing all the amazing things staff do will help you blaze a trail. Efficiency, availability, and production will follow.
Like the rest of the world, most of the maintenance industry has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked to several maintenance professionals to find out what challenges they’re facing, how they’re meeting them head-on, and how they’re showing incredible resilience while helping provide essential services.
If you’re looking for more resources to help you and your team through these uncertain times, we’ve created a Resource Hub that includes some helpful articles and webinars.
When operations manager Juan Ruiz looks out at the floor of his facility, everything seems normal. A technician talks to an operator before fixing a machine. A critical asset is inspected during a rare break in use. A production line is adjusted to make sure it can fulfill a crucial order.
But this isn’t business as usual for Juan’s team.
The conversation is happening in a designated quiet place so the two employees can stand six feet apart. The critical asset is a sensor used to take the temperature of staff as they enter the building. The crucial order is for millions of boxes that will hold lifesaving N95 masks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Juan and his entire team to change the way they work.
“We are running to failure, and that’s changing our mentality right now,” says Juan.
“We’re surviving. We’re not improving.”
They are far from alone. Maintenance departments everywhere are feeling the impact of COVID-19.
“Maintenance teams are nervous right now,” says Terrence O’Hanlon, the CEO of ReliabilityWeb.
“Even before COVID, there weren’t too many maintenance departments who could say, ‘Yep, we’re fully staffed, fully budgeted, and we have all the resources we need.’…So if that’s the case when things are normal, it’s only going to get tougher in these times.”
Getting processes in place to support people is priority #1
For Tom Dufton, a maintenance and continuous improvement manager, these challenges aren’t just about business–they’re personal too.
“One of our maintenance team members, his wife is a nurse, so he’s taxed very heavily right now,” says Tom.
“He has two young kids. So we have to ask, ‘What can we do to help you out so things are better for you?…The last thing I want to do is to burden anyone down, especially maintenance.”
We’ve reached out to our competitors to get the crucial parts we need for our corrugator…And they’ve reached out to us for some of these consumables…We’re each making sure that we can get business done. We understand that we’re essential businesses and need to keep running.
The biggest hurdle for James Afara, the chief operating officer at a cannabis producer, is balancing the health of staff with the need to do critical maintenance.
“The biggest challenge is getting eyes on the plants to make sure they’re healthy and our process metrics…are being collected properly so we can make our decisions remotely,” says James.
“We have key individuals that go in during off-hours to collect the data, but you try to balance that because you never want to put people at risk.”
Juan’s facility has also struggled to do more with less. Most suppliers (90%) have stopped delivering key parts to the plant. But Juan has found an unlikely ally to help him solve this issue.
“We’ve reached out to our competitors to get the crucial parts we need for our corrugator,” says Juan.
“And they’ve reached out to us for some of these consumables…We’re each making sure that we can get business done. We understand that we’re essential businesses and need to keep running.”
Finding a way to get the job done isn’t the biggest worry for most maintenance teams. Instead, it’s ensuring staff health and safety. This has meant putting a lot of new processes in place.
For example, Tom and his team have increased their use of automation so his staff can run operations remotely.
“Our finger is always on the pulse of the facility,” says Tom, “Even without being there, you still know what’s happening.”
These measures have reduced after-hours call-ins by 42% over the last year, which means fewer risky trips to the plant.
Tom, along with James and Juan, have put several other precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They’ve started putting fewer technicians on each shift, taking the temperature of staff, sanitizing all incoming parts, and reducing production so staff can do frequent deep cleans of the facility.
Companies have even mobilized maintenance as a key weapon in the battle against the virus.
“It’s imperative that maintenance ensures the facility is running,” says James, “The last thing you want is staff sitting in the lunchroom and not social distancing because of a breakdown.”
This new way of working is essential, but it also has consequences.
“We are limited because if anyone has any sort of symptom, we are pulling them out of work,” explained James, who says his workforce has been reduced by 15% because of illness.
Juan’s team has had to sacrifice efficiency in the name of health and safety.
“Because the staff have to leave their machines and go to a separate area to discuss things, it creates more downtime,” says Juan.
Although their teams are stretched thin and dealing with more breakdowns, it’s all worth it to keep staff safe and healthy.
“Your employees and their health always comes first. You have to value people over profit,” says James.
“If you’re lowering your production, you still have to remember maintenance”
While increased production has led to challenges for some maintenance teams, others have faced a very different obstacle: Coming to terms with facility shutdowns.
Lines have gone silent at many plants in the face of both the pandemic and a struggling economy. That means an uncertain future for many maintenance teams. But there’s opportunity among the difficulties, says Rob Kalwarowsky, host of the Rob’s Reliability Project podcast.
“If you’re lowering your production, you still have to remember maintenance,” says Rob.
“This would be a great time to work through your backlog…or a great time to do those rebuilds you wanted to do. There’s opportunities here, you just have to look for them.”
While some maintenance personnel are learning to work remotely or with fewer resources, some are facing more dire circumstances.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about Brandon De Melo’s shift on March 13. Brandon, the CMMS coordinator at a major auto parts manufacturer, helped shut down the facility for the weekend and went home. By the next Friday, he had been laid off.
Although Brandon is temporarily without a job, it hasn’t stopped him from exploring new ways to improve maintenance at his facility for when business starts again.
His top priority is creating a list of crucial maintenance tasks for a successful cold start. He’s also working through several projects that have been on the backburner for his team, like organizing inventory records.
Brandon has also turned his home into a one-man manufacturing facility, where he’s been creating protective masks for healthcare workers with a 3D printer.
Perseverance and hope are how maintenance teams are winning the day
Brandon’s story isn’t the only message of resilience among maintenance professionals. Hope was the word coming from everyone’s mouths when talking about the future, both on and off the shop floor.
“Don’t give up hope,” says Terrence.
“This is going to be a long battle…but I have huge faith not only in the people of this industry, but for all people to innovate and thrive even in this environment.”
Juan echoed this thought.
“The most important part about facing a situation like the one a lot of us are in now is to stay calm and to understand what is essential,” says Juan.
“What is essential is the safety of our employees. If we keep that in mind, everything else will be all right.”
So you bought a CMMS. Maybe you’ve been using the system for a while now, or maybe you only just stood it up — either way, you’re not taking full advantage of the system if your team isn’t using the mobile maintenance app that comes with most modern cloud solutions.
The majority of maintenance teams we work with at Fiix don’t spend their days in the office. Technicians, contractors, and tradespeople are generally out in the field or in far corners of the facility getting the job done. This is where mobile maintenance apps can really step up, but getting your team to download and use a new app isn’t always a walk in the park.
That’s why we specifically designed our mobile CMMS app for folks who are in the field, doing the work. This means 4 things:
The app works offline: We know that WiFi doesn’t necessarily work everywhere you do, so our CMMS app seamlessly transitions from online to offline mode, automatically syncing your data once you’re back online. You can pull up assetinformation and log work without having to waste time waiting for data to load.
It works intuitively and securely: The app takes advantage of built-in device features like QR code scanning, speech-to-text dictation, and capturing and uploading images. Not to mention, it also ensures your data is secure.
It lets users personalize their data: The app lets users filter and view their own work order list to prioritize work better. Admins can also configure feature access for users, such as who gets to edit assets, who can view work requests, and more.
It’s built with your feedback in mind: From new features such as the work request portal and inspection tasks, to custom fields and even e-signatures (coming soon!), we are always listening to the feedback and introducing new functionality to simplify and improve your experience.
Tips for getting your team to download and use a CMMS app
As you go through the process of getting your team up and running on the app, there are three major steps you should think about:
1. Make sure you have the right devices
There are generally two scenarios here: either your company is providing devices for the team to use, or team members are using the app on their personal devices.
If your company is providing devices:
Make sure there are enough devices for the whole team. Does every team member require their own device, or do you just need enough devices for each shift?
Check with IT for any requirements from their side.
Will they set up the app for you? Make sure you set a date for the IT team to download the new app so that your team will know when to expect to start using it.
Do they use a mobile device management tool (MDM) on corporate devices? If they do, make sure that it is configured to work with the Fiix app.
If the team are using their own devices:
Our app is built for Android and iOS devices, so make sure your team is using those devices and they have the latest updates and operating system installed.
See if you can get one or two spare devices in case something happens to someone’s device and you need a spare.
2. Invest in training
When you introduce new technology to your team, it’s important to invest in training to make sure everyone uses the technology the same way. Even something as small as a mobile app requires training to ensure your team is aligned on which processes to follow.
There are two types of training you can run — group training or ‘train the trainer’. Both are equally effective, so choosing the right method is dependent on your team’s working style.
Remember: before you start training your team, make sure everyone has a device in hand to follow along.
We recommend training your team in a group if you can get everyone in the room at the same time. Group training is particularly helpful to use as a goalpost for everyone to start using the new app at the same time.
Get everyone together in a meeting room (pro tip: bring pizza and/or donuts to increase participation) and make sure everyone downloads the new app at the same time (if it’s not downloaded already).
Walk everyone through the app (you can sign up for a training session here or get some inspiration for topics from our Help Center).
Bonus: Assign a mock work order to each person attending the training and get them to all follow through the steps of updating the work order.
Make sure to provide hand-outs at the training session. One training session is generally not enough for anyone to fully learn a new system, so handouts will give your team something to refer to as they get used to working with the app. Feel free to use some of these handouts we’ve created:
How to download PDF
Quick start guide to mobile PDF
Train the trainer
This type of training is typically used when your maintenance team is running in shifts and you can’t get everyone in the same classroom for a training session.
Select one person from each shift or group to be the lead trainer (most often this will be the shift lead). This person is responsible for making sure everyone has downloaded and is trained on the new mobile app.
Train this trainer. You can sign them up for one of the Fiix training sessions, or get them familiarized with the mobile app through our Help Center topics. Make sure this trainer is familiar with the processes you want to follow as they use the app.
They will then do the training session with their group. Remind them to walk everyone through downloading the app and print those hand-outs for future reference. They can also create a mock work order and get them to follow steps of updating the work order.
3. Focus on continued adoption
The Fiix app is dynamic and we are constantly improving and adding new functionality based on feedback from our customers. On top of that, your team also changes, so we recommend doing a refresher every once in a while. This will help get new team members up and running and provide a helpful refresher for anyone else, which will ensure everyone is using the app in the same way, and taking advantage of updates as they come out.
We recommended doing a refresher at least every year, and maybe even every six months depending on your team.
Keep your eyes peeled for in-app messages and Fiix release notes for new functionality being added every month!
To sum it up
Start with a mobile app that actually works for your team, then focus on devices, setup and ongoing training for successful app adoption. And for more information on Fiix’s mobile app and how you can take advantage of it, join our mobile training webinar today.
Everything maintenance teams need to know about OSHA, its regulations, compliance standards and how to avoid OSHA violations.
Here’s a scary stat: 85 health and safety violations were committed every day across the US in 2018. In total, there were more than 31,000 fines doled out for breaking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) top 10 health and safety violations alone.
Besides the potential for accidents, injury, and death, these fines inflicted a heavy toll on the bottom line, costing businesses over $400 million last year.
Many of the top OSHA violations have a connection to everyday maintenance tasks, especially for those working in manufacturing. Another thing they had in common? They were all preventable.
With solid planning and some helpful technology, it’s easy for maintenance teams to avoid health and safety violations while creating a better health and safety program.
What is OSHA?
OSHA is the government-run organization in charge of assuring safe and healthy working conditions for millions of public and private sector employers and workers across the US. They do this by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
What is the purpose of OSHA?
OSHA is responsible for the hefty price tags attached to noncompliance and is the organization that maintenance teams have to impress most often when it comes to health and safety audits.
OSHA regulations, OSHA compliance, and OSHA penalties
The following is a brief rundown of the rules and responsibilities mandated by OSHA and the impact of breaking these regulations.
What are employers responsible for?
Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their workers. Employers must provide workers with a hazard-free workplace and must follow all OSHA standards. Employers must find and correct all safety and health problems, first by changing working conditions, like switching to safer chemicals, and then by providing protective equipment.
Besides the potential for accidents, injury, and death, OSHA violations inflicted a heavy toll on the bottom line, costing businesses over $400 million last year.
Other guidelines that employers must follow include:
Prominently displaying official OSHA requirements, OSHA citations, and injury and illness data.
Informing workers about hazards in a language they can understand through training, labels, alarms, and other methods.
Keeping accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Performing tests in the workplace, such as air sampling.
Providing the required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
Not retaliating against workers for using their rights under the law.
These are some examples of the broad policies employers at production facilities need to follow. However, there are many OSHA regulations that apply to specific industries or in certain regions. Some examples of these standards include providing fall protection, ensuring safety in confined spaces, putting guards on dangerous machines, and providing respirators to employees.
What rights and responsibilities do workers have?
Workers also have a responsibility to attend training, ensure they report unsafe work, and follow guidelines set out by employers and OSHA. In addition to their responsibilities, workers also have several rights under OSHA laws, including:
The right to file a confidential complaint to have their workplace inspected.
The right to receive copies of the results from health and safety tests and monitoring.
The right to participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.
The right to file a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated against by their employer.
The right to file a complaint if punished or retaliated against for acting as a whistleblower.
How are OSHA standards created?
OSHA standards-setting process is a multi-step activity that relies heavily on public engagement. New standards can be recommended either by OSHA itself or through third-party petitions from organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, state and local governments, and labour representatives.
After deciding to move forward with a new standard, OSHA often asks the public for their feedback and insight. After considering all information and testimonies, OSHA develops and issues a final standard that becomes enforceable.
What happens during an OSHA inspection?
When OSHA finds employers who are in violation of the regulations, inspections are initiated without advance notice by compliance officers. Here’s how the on-site inspections usually happen:
The compliance officer presents their credentials.
They explain why the workplace was selected for inspection and describe the inspection process, including walkaround procedures, employee representation, and employee interviews.
The compliance officer and facility representatives walk through the workplace, inspecting for hazards.
The compliance officer talks with the employer and employee representatives about their findings.
If no hazards or OSHA violations are found, the inspection is over. If an inspector finds violations or serious hazards, they may issue a citation and/or fine. A citation outlines methods that can be used to fix a problem and a deadline for correcting the issue, as well as the date by which the corrective actions must be completed.
What are the fines for OSHA violations?
Fines for non-compliance of OSHA regulations can vary based on the seriousness of the violation and the organization’s record and the industry. However, OSHA has outlined maximum fines, which for 2018 include $13,260 for minor and serious violations and $132,598 for willful or repeat violations.
The most common OSHA violations
Below are the 10 OSHA violations most frequently committed by workplaces in 2018:
Fall Protection – General Requirements (Standard 1926.501)
Hazard Communication (Standard 1910.200)
Scaffolds – General Requirements (Standard 1926.451)
Respiratory Protection (Standard 1910.200)
Lockout/Tagout (Standard 1910.147)
Ladders (Standard 1926.1053)
Powered Industrial Trucks (Standard 1910.178)
Fall Protection – Training Requirements (Standard 1926.503)
Machine Guarding (Standard 1910.212)
Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (Standard 1926.95)
How maintenance teams can prevent OSHA violations
Here are a few tools and techniques maintenance teams can use to steer clear of violating some OSHA regulations. Each of these tips can be implemented through maintenance management software, such as a CMMS.
It’s never easy to tear yourself away from a job when your to-do list is a mile long. Then again, when you don’t make time for health and safety tasks, it can result in a huge fine. Over 4,500 companies faced this exact situation in 2018 after they violating the OSHA’s hazard communication standard by failing to provide proper hazard training and maintain the necessary data sheets.
OSHA is also responsible for the hefty price tags attached to noncompliance, and is the organization maintenance teams have to impress most often when it comes to health and safety audits.
Maintaining records and providing health and safety training is often a hassle, even if it’s extremely important. Having an efficient method for storing employee information can go a long way in saving you time and helping you stay compliant. Create employee profiles for everyone on the maintenance team. On each profile, list the training that person has, the dates they completed training, and the training they still need. Make sure to note deadlines for certification renewals on each profile. Create a notification system so both you and the employee are alerted about any training that is about to expire. Lastly, use these profiles to communicate any hazardous situations or changes in policy to all staff.
Lockout/tagout violations ranked as the fifth-most-common breach of OSHA regulations during 2018, even with it being standard procedure across the maintenance and manufacturing world. Facilities were cited for failing to implement an energy control program and to provide training.
Energy control programs help maintenance staff avoid being injured by the massive amounts of hazardous energy that is often stored by equipment. Although many facilities have an energy control program, they are often not implemented properly.
One of the biggest obstacles to policy implementation is a lack of accessibility. Technicians are extremely busy and are often overwhelmed on a daily basis. If they are working on an asset, need to conduct a lockout/tagout and don’t know the proper procedure, it’s not likely that they will spend valuable time looking for the information. Making an energy control program document available digitally and accessible through a mobile device eliminates this problem, is a factor in the successful implementation and helps facilities avoid a costly OSHA violation.
Fall protection – training and general requirements
Companies were handed over 9,000 fines for inadequate fall protection in 2018, with these violations scoring top spot and eighth place on the OSHA’s list. The most common rules that were broken were failing to provide sufficient training and proper protective equipment.
Training your whole workforce might be the end goal of your fall protection plan, but it might not be realistic in the short term. However, there are a few ways employers can better manage their existing pool of trained maintenance staff to avoid violating OSHA regulations. You must be able to cross-reference work orders with staff who are certified (and who have proof of certification). The best way to do this is through a digitalmaintenance work order system. This system can tell you who is available and the best person to do the job, so no one is working at heights without the proper training.
Equipment for fall protection often includes harnesses, guardrails, anchors, and other, larger pieces. These items need to be maintained and stored properly. That is why a well-built inventory management system is a must for safety and to avoid OSHA violations. The ability to track where parts are stored, their history of use, and how often they’ve been maintained is crucial. It ensures that workers know where to find the proper protective equipment when they need it and that they know it will be in optimal working condition. Having a digital inventory system makes this information more accessible and creates a more efficient process.
Machine guarding was another common OSHA violation in 2018, averaging 5.5 infractions per day. Inspectors cited companies for point of operation and for guards that were not attached to machines.
It’s easy to assume this violation can be avoided by simply walking around your facility, installing guards where needed and training staff to always use them when necessary. However, this isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it issue. It requires an ongoing effort to ensure guards are installed and maintained properly. A guard may rust over time, diminishing its effectiveness. An employee may remove a guard for a project and not replace it properly or at all. That is why you and your maintenance team must be diligent about machine guarding.
One way to ensure consistency with machine guarding at your facility is through automated work orders and maintenance triggers. Determining a maintenance trigger for each guard will help you plan an inspection, repair, or replacement well ahead of time. For example, a certain guard may be slated for replacement every three months. These maintenance triggers can then be scheduled using an automated work order system to ensure you’ll be alerted of upcoming maintenance or inspection for machine guards so tasks don’t fall through the cracks and leave you vulnerable to citations or fines.
Personal protective and lifesaving equipment
The last entry on the OSHA’s list of top violations is one that can apply to many maintenance activities and can have a huge impact on safety. There were over 1,500 instances of facilities failing to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) and lifesaving equipment or failing to ensure employees used them in the right situation.
PPE can vary from job to job in a facility. One maintenance task may require an individual to wear hearing protection while another may call for a dust-blocking face mask. It can be difficult for staff to remember what PPE is associated with which job, which means tasks are not always completed in the safest way (or in accordance with OSHA regulations).
Solving this problem can be as easy as attaching a checklist to each maintenance task or asset that outlines the required PPE. Not only will this standardize PPE practices at your facility, but it also reminds the staff what they should be doing. If the checklist is available in a digital format, it is even more accessible to staff, which means that the protocols are more likely to be followed.
Maintenance strategy can be complicated. Most people agree on what types of maintenance strategies exist, but that’s where the consensus ends. It’s rare to see eye-to-eye on what those strategies look like in the field. That’s no surprise considering the number of factors that impact the debate: Cost, staff size, geography—the list goes on and on. But figuring out which strategy is best for an asset is not a nice-to-have, it’s essential. So we dove into this tangled mess of strategies to sort it out.
Step 1: Know the different types of maintenance strategies
Finding the right type of maintenance strategy for an asset starts with speaking the same language. We don’t need to agree on every little detail of what each strategy means, but we do need to be starting from the same spot.
Reactive maintenance/No maintenance strategy
Reactive maintenance is the mad scramble to fix a machine after it breaks down. It’s like firefighters rushing to put out a fire, only there’s no truck. Or hose. Or water. It’s also called emergency maintenance, breakdown maintenance or simply, having no maintenance strategy.
Run to fail maintenance
Run to fail maintenance (RTF) is a deliberate choice to let an asset fail before repairing it. A plan is in place ahead of time so the asset can be fixed or replaced without causing extra delays or costs. It’s like letting a light bulb burn out while having a dozen spares and a ladder ready to fix it right away.
Corrective maintenance is any task that corrects a problem with an asset. We’re reserving this type of maintenance for smaller, non-invasive tasks that happen before a machine reaches full failure, like making a fix during a routine inspection. Imagine changing the oil in your car and noticing the tires look a little flat. Pumping up the tires is classic corrective maintenance.
Routine maintenance is any task done on a planned and ongoing basis to identify and prevent problems. Routine maintenance rarely requires specialized training, skills, or equipment. The daily safety checklists many machine operators complete is an example of routine maintenance.
Preventive maintenance (PM) is maintenance regularly performed on a piece of equipment in working condition to reduce the risk of it failing. There are two main types of preventive maintenance:
Time-based preventive maintenance is when tasks are scheduled on an asset at a certain time interval, such as the first of every month or every seven days.
Usage-based preventive maintenance is when work is scheduled based on the operation of equipment, such as after 1,000 miles or 10 production cycles.
In condition-based maintenance (CBM), the performance of an asset is monitored to determine when maintenance needs to be done. CBM uses certain indicators, like increased vibration or heat, to catch the point when failure begins, but before it leads to a breakdown.
Predictive maintenance (PdM) uses condition-monitoring tools and techniques to track the performance of equipment, identify defects, and help you fix them before failure.
The difference between predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance lies in measurement and timing. CBM uses real-time performancedata to point out a problem after a machine begins to fail. On the other hand, PdM takes all information into account (past, present, and future) and offers an ideal time for maintenance before any failure, however small, occurs.
Prescriptive maintenance (RxM) takes predictive maintenance to the next level. It uses condition monitoring and machine learning tools to predict when to do maintenance, but it also lays out exactly what kind of maintenance to do to help that piece of equipment perform better for longer.
Maintenance strategies in action on a variable speed transfer conveyor
The conveyor is inspected for potential failure every five production cycles
Maintenance is scheduled on the conveyor when vibration crosses a certain threshold
Software says that failure-level vibration on the conveyor belt will occur in 30 days
Software says that failure-level vibration on the conveyor belt will occur in 30 days and repairing it will require swapping out a certain part
Planned maintenance vs. scheduled maintenance
Scheduled maintenance is any work that’s put in the calendar, given a deadline, and assigned to a technician, whether that’s done a day or a year in advance. It’s the who and when of a task. Planned maintenance is the what, where, why, and how of a task. It doesn’t always establish the exact date and time of work, but you know how to execute the work when the time comes.
Let’s look at run to fail vs. reactive maintenance for an example. In both cases, you don’t know when maintenance is going to happen until a machine breaks down. They’re both unscheduled maintenance. However, RTF is a deliberate choice. You know failure won’t impact production. You’ve assembled the parts, people, and processes to fix the asset quickly and without spending too much. It’s planned. Reactive maintenance has none of that foresight, making it unplanned.
Here’s a handy way of remembering how to classify the types of maintenance strategies:
And here’s how much of each maintenance strategy is planned and how far in advance you can schedule them.
Step 2: Know your variables
Every facility is different, which is why it can be maddening to talk about maintenance strategies so generally. Every asset, technician, and business is unique, and what works for one maintenance-teams-can-avoid-the-top-osha-violations/” >maintenance team may not work for another. That’s why understanding what makes your facility tick is crucial.
Before you decide on maintenance strategies, take stock of a few key financial elements:
Which assets are important to safety and compliance?
A good maintenance strategy is only as good as people who execute it, which is why the people factor should be taken into account when building your assetmaintenance strategy. There are a few questions that can help you assess the baseline of your staff:
How can you get your team home safely every day?
How many people do you have on your team and is there room for growth?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each person, and what training is necessary?
How does your team spend their time?
Step 3: Choosing a type of maintenance strategy for your assets
Let’s clear the air right now:
“There’s no single best maintenance strategy,” says Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s senior manager of sales engineering.
“There is a ‘worst’ strategy and that’s reactive maintenance, but the best strategy is the one that helps equipment function at its best, safely, and without too many costs.”
Of course, that’s easier said than done. There are all those unique, colliding, and constantly changing factors for you to consider. But by looking at some major elements, such as costs, safety, and downtime, we can chart where each maintenance strategy falls and give you some tools for assessing the best maintenance strategy for each of your assets.
Cost to implement and manage vs. Instances of downtime
Every minute of uptime gained comes at a cost. The question is whether that cost is worth it. Our first chart can be a starting point for answering that question. It helps you measure your uptime goals against your budget and identify where resources can be used for better returns.
Cost to implement and manage vs. Asset criticality
A good dose of prescriptive or predictive maintenance is often enough to cure unnecessary downtime. But you know the catch: Those strategies require expensive training and technology to do well. That’s where asset criticality comes in. This chart helps visualize where to dedicate your time and money to ensure the most important machines are also the most reliable.
Planned percentage vs. Data requirements
Planned maintenance is like sleep to exhausted parents with a newborn: You can never have enough. But planning takes data to be effective and efficient. The chart below is a run-down of how much data is necessary for each maintenance strategy to be successful.
Planned percentage vs. Safety and compliance
Increased safety is often tied to planned work, because the more you know, the better you can avoid risks. This chart is all about how each strategy allows you to plan and identify risks early so you can reduce the likelihood of accidents or increase compliance on a group of assets.
Getting the right combination of maintenance strategies takes time. No one gets it perfect on the first try. No one goes from reactive to prescriptive maintenance in a single leap. Finding a formula that works is a journey. It could start with doing PMs on a handful of critical assets and lead to a well-balanced strategy that touches every machine. The in-between can last years. What will get you there are data-driven decisions. The result is a facility that runs with fewer interruptions, a healthier bottom line, and a more efficient maintenance team.
In short, the journey to predictive maintenance is slow, but worth it if it’s done right.
This article is all about building a predictive maintenance program that will last. We explore the six pillars of a strong predictive maintenance program, how you can develop each area, and how to use them to achieve predictive maintenance.
A short refresher on predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance (PdM) lives in the same family as maintenance-strategies/preventative-maintenance/”>preventive maintenance. They’re both proactive types of maintenance—work is done on an asset before something bad happens to it, not after a failure has shut it down.
The difference between preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance lies in the methods used, the amount of lead-time you have for a task, and the precision of scheduling. PdM uses condition-monitoring tools and techniques and asset information to track the real-time and historical equipment performance so you can anticipate failure before it happens.
Since predictive maintenance aims to give you an ideal window for proactive maintenance tasks, it can help minimize the time equipment is being maintained, the production hours lost to maintenance, and the cost of spare parts and supplies. We outline maintenance-strategies/”>where predictive maintenance fits in your overall maintenance strategy here.
The six pillars of a predictive maintenance program
A sturdy predictive maintenance program is built on six pillars: People, data, processes, tools and parts, equipment, and technology. If one pillar is not stable or is left to rot, your whole program can crumble.
People: Culture eats strategy for breakfast
The long journey to predictive maintenance always starts with people.
“It doesn’t matter if your predictive maintenance plan looks good on paper if you don’t have buy-in from the people who are doing the work,” says Fiix’s solutions engineer Jason Afara.
“In other words, culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Every other pillar of a predictive maintenance program needs people to build and maintain it. Data needs interpreting. Technology needs setting up and managing. That’s why everyone in your organization should understand how PdM works, why it’s important and what they can do to make it successful.
Getting people at your facility onboard with the (many) changes that come with predictive maintenance is absolutely essential, but not always easy. This article from Software Advice offers some great tips on change management, getting buy-in from your maintenance team, and creating a great culture at your facility.
Technology is like a dash of salt in a predictive maintenance program—it ties the other ingredients together and makes them shine.
“Without the data, you can’t predict anything. If you don’t have a baseline about what’s normal for a pump or a conveyor, you can’t identify or predict anomalies,” says Bryan Sapot, CEO of SensrTrx.
But with quantity also comes the need for quality.
“If you don’t have good information coming from the plant floor, it won’t matter how good your algorithms are, you won’t be able to make good decisions with it,” says Jared Evans, the chief operating officer at MAJiK Systems.
Data is the link between current assetperformance and the future state of the asset. That’s why everything, from throughput to failure modes and beyond, must be constantly updated. These numbers also have to be accurate everywhere. If they’re different from system to system, it’ll throw your whole program into disarray.
Or as Jason puts it, “If you have bad data coming from your machines and software, it’s like the weatherperson telling you it’s sunny out when it’s actually raining. You’ll step into the rain and get soaked.”
Processes: A steady hand on the predictive maintenance ship
Simply put, your processes are the way you work—how your maintenance-teams-can-avoid-the-top-osha-violations/” >maintenance team plans and does the things it needs to do every day to be successful. An effective predictive maintenance program helps make your whole operation predictable so it can maximize everything from working hours to assetperformance.
Processes in a predictive maintenance program are people-driven and equipment-driven.
People processes involve the way your maintenance team goes about their work. They outline how staff interact with machines, data, each other, and everything else.
“You need to understand who is responsible for what, how frequently you review data and tasks, how you communicate, and how you plan, escalate, and complete tasks,” says Jason.
When it comes to equipment processes, Jared says it’s crucial to know what processes your equipment completes, how to capture assetdata, and how the data maps to future performance.
If you have bad data coming from your machines and software, it’s like the weatherperson telling you it’s sunny out when it’s actually raining. You’ll step into the rain and get soaked.
Tools and parts: Trusty sidekicks ready for the spotlight
Tools and parts play a huge role in allowing predictive maintenance to go from a far-away dream to a realistic goal.
“Predictive maintenance isn’t new,” says Jason. “The difference between 20 or 30 years ago and now is that we have the tools and understanding of parts to do it better and with fewer costs.”
Tools are the instruments used to measure the condition of assets, like infrared cameras, and the tools needed to inspect or repair equipment. Parts are the different components of equipment, but not just any old parts will do for predictive maintenance, as we’ll see below.
Equipment: Not all machines were made for predictive maintenance
Anyone who says reactive maintenance can be totally eliminated has never had their windshield cracked by a stray pebble. While this isn’t exactly an on-the-job example, the lesson still applies to the shop floor: You can’t anticipate everything.
It’s important to know which of your equipment allows you to anticipate failure on it when setting up a predictive maintenance program
“The assets that fit into a predictive maintenance program are the ones that provide good condition data with enough lead-time to catch problems before total failure,” says Jason.
Jason also recommends applying predictive maintenance to your most critical assets with the most observable failure modes because of the time and money needed to build a PdM program.
If you’re looking for information on choosing the best equipment for your predictive maintenance program, check out this starter pack of resources (PF track with balanced maintenance strategies, P-F curve, condition-based maintenance blogs)
Technology: The glue that keeps the other elements together
Technology is like a dash of salt in a predictive maintenance program—it ties the other ingredients together and makes them shine. It helps you manage, facilitate, and optimize the other pillars of predictive maintenance.
“Technology gives you an extra set of eyes,” says Bryan, “so you can collect real-time data without having someone on your team constantly looking at the information.”
This is a big job, one that can’t be done by a single piece of technology.
“Predictive maintenance requires you to pull together so many different data sources,” says Jared.
“You need to know what products are being run and when, the cost of all your activities, when maintenance was last done. The list goes on. You need several pieces of technology to capture all this data, store it, and make sense of it.”
There are lots of different technologies that can be used to manage a predictive maintenance program, from ERPs to MES systems and CMMS software. We explored the most common of these technologies here.
How to build a predictive maintenance program
Predictive maintenance: Part of a balanced strategy
The best way to think of predictive maintenance is like a bowl of cereal in an old TV commercial: It’s part of a balanced breakfast (or maintenance strategy). Predictive maintenance isn’t the only strategy to strive for. Instead, it should supplement your overall maintenance program.
“Predictive maintenance will never replace all other forms of maintenance,” says Jason.
“Creating a predictive maintenance program isn’t about making a checklist. You can’t just tick off a bunch of tasks, flip a few switches and be completely predictive. It’s a journey. It might take 10 years to go 10% predictive.”
A predictive maintenance program won’t solve all your problems. But there are some serious benefits to having one, like a more reliable operation that allows everyone at your organization to grow and be more efficient.
Taking advantage of those benefits relies on building on key maintenance fundamentals. When those fundamentals are strong, you’ll have a strategy that’ll weather any challenge thrown at it.