A technical postmortem is a retrospective of a failure. It’s a preventative step that can help you quickly identify and address issues with your assets, systems, or other technology platforms so they don’t happen again. They are commonly used in maintenance but also have applications in software development and design as well.
What is a technical postmortem?
A technical postmortem is a retrospective analysis of events that resulted in a technical failure.
The purpose of a technical postmortem is to:
Find out what went wrong and why
Identify trouble areas
Determine what can be done to prevent future failures
Create best practices for your business
Inform process improvements, mitigate future risks, and promote iterative best practices
4 questions to ask during a technical postmortem
This postmortem outline is not meant to be comprehensive but to serve as a starting point for your technical postmortem. These questions generate discussion about what went well, what the team struggled with during the failure, and what the team would do differently moving forward.
Here’s what you and your team should be asking during a technical postmortem:
1. What happened?
You can’t analyze what you don’t understand, so establishing a clear understanding of what went wrong is crucial.
2. Why did it happen?
Identify the major events that led to the failure and try isolating the root causes for the failure. Determine if the events are the underlying causes of the failure, or if they initiate a process that leads to the technical failure. Some underlying causes can include defects in design, process, or poor maintenance practices.
Look strictly at the technical causes of the failure and examine the underlying management and team environment. Sometimes team members ignore warning signs of impending failure due to the organizational culture, time crunches, and budget pressure.
3. How did we respond and recover?
How your team responds to failure can determine how quickly you identify the root cause and fix it. A major technical failure can have a direct impact on shareholder value, revenues, market share, and brand equity, so a quick recovery is paramount.
A useful technical postmortem requires a reasonable level of honesty, insight, and cooperation from the organization. The outcome of the postmortem should be to recognize what worked and fix the processes that didn’t. Remember, the idea is to learn from your successes and failures, not just to document them.
4. How can we prevent similar unexpected issues from occurring again?
Unexpected technical issues do arise in mission-critical or complex hardware systems. However, the key to prevention is technical planning to prevent problems from affecting the entire system. Each of the failures uncovered in step two represents a risk going forward, so schedule regular inspections or system checks in your maintenance management software.
When a risk is detected, certain actions should be triggered immediately to prevent similar failures. Planning must also consider the business process and management responses the team initiates when a failure occurs. A complete postmortem addresses both technical and management issues.
Don’t turn your postmortem into a blame game. Instead, management has to develop a reputation for listening openly to input and not punishing people for being honest. A well-run postmortem can help a maintenance team create a culture of continuous improvement.
The benefits of conducting a technical postmortem
As we can see from our example, a technical postmortem has a series of positive benefits including a detailed analysis of why an asset failed. It can help you avoid future problems by identifying issues that are present before any kind of launch.
Improving the way your team approaches new projects
Learning from mistakes so they don’t happen again
Gaining insights into how other teams have handled similar situations
Some next steps after your technical postmortem is completed
After a technical postmortem is conducted and the project is concluded there is a postmortem meeting. This meeting is intended to understand the project from start to finish and determine what can be optimized and improved for the next postmortem. Generally, the project manager and team attend these meetings, but it’s open for anyone part of the project to join.
Tips and tricks to keep in mind during and after your technical postmortem
A postmortem can help you become more effective by learning from mistakes and focusing on what worked best, but it’s up to you to structure the meeting to get the most out of it. A way to structure your meeting is by setting a clear agenda, beginning with a recap of the project objectives, reviewing the results and whether or not the project met the set objectives, and lastly, analyzing the successes and failures and why they occurred.
You can ensure that your technical postmortem is successful by carefully preparing in advance, analyzing the failure systematically, producing actionable findings, and actively sharing the results.
Don’t let the momentum fade with your team. Schedule the postmortem right after the end of the project. A technical postmortem should occur within one to two weeks of the technical failure.
Make sure to store your postmortems in the asset record in a CMMS so they can be easily found in the future to prevent similar failures going forward.
A technical postmortem is an important tool for maintaining and improving your systems
A technical postmortem is a tool that allows you to learn from mistakes, identify the root cause of a problem, and improve your systems. It may sound like an abstract concept, but it’s actually quite simple: you document what went wrong and use that information to prevent the same issue from happening again.
Professional racing is a masterclass in efficiency. Teams don’t just dislike waste—they hate it.
Every millisecond of a pit stop has a purpose. Every component of a car is analyzed to ensure it’s functioning at its best. Strategies are designed to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.
When you translate this mindset to the shop floor, you achieve a lean maintenance strategy. Lean maintenance is the merciless reduction and elimination of waste at every stage of your maintenance program so you can go further, faster, while spending less.
This guide outlines the basics for building and measuring a lean maintenance strategy, including:
What is lean maintenance
The types of waste in maintenance
A formula for creating a lean maintenance strategy
Metrics for tracking lean maintenance success
What is lean maintenance?
Like lean manufacturing, lean maintenance is the continual process of identifying, reducing, and removing waste from maintenance activities. Waste is considered anything that doesn’t increase output, decrease costs, or otherwise boost productivity.
There are a lot of examples of waste in maintenance, including:
Money spent on a part that becomes obsolete before it’s used
Time spent clarifying the details of a maintenance request
Effort spent collecting maintenance data you never use
It’s often difficult to spot waste in your maintenance program. That’s why a lean maintenance strategy can’t work without iteration. Iteration is the practice of making small changes over time to find the best way to set up processes and activities. In other words, lean maintenance is not a one-and-done project. It’s a way of thinking and acting that takes years to build.
What are the benefits of lean maintenance?
Odds are, you’ve uttered the words, “What a waste of time,” or “What a waste of money,” in the last couple of weeks. Lean maintenance eliminates those moments. And while there are a thousand things you could be referring to, most of them can be grouped in these four main benefits:
1. Cost savings
A lean maintenance strategy reduces direct costs (labor and resources) and indirect costs (the money you lose in downtime or lost production). For example, you might discover that you can reduce routine maintenance on an asset from once a week to once a month, cutting labor costs by 75% in the process.
2. Efficiency gains
Efficiency is another word for getting more done in less time. Lean maintenance strategies help you find activities and processes that take too much time so you can modify or eliminate them. Voltalia’s maintenance team is a great example of this benefit in practice. The company noticed that one of its service teams spent 40 hours a week driving from the office to an off-site facility. The solution was to build a satellite office near the off-site facility to save time.
3. Maximized potential
When machines and people are not bogged down by unnecessary duties, they can operate at full capacity and perform to the best of their abilities. Tom Dufton’s maintenance team is a perfect example. Tom, a maintenance manager, noticed his skilled maintenance technicians were spending a lot of time assisting production. He used this data to advocate for extra operators so his team could get back to maintaining equipment.
4. Employee engagement
Removing unnecessary work and administrative tasks helps employees feel more engaged with their work. It also gives them time to up-skill and do high-value work. One way this translates into real life is with new maintenance software. If technicians don’t have time to learn the system, your big investment in technology could be for nothing. Eliminating extra tasks elsewhere will give your team time to learn, ask questions, and get used to new technology.
The three types of waste in maintenance
The first step in eliminating waste is to find it. There are three main areas in a maintenance operation where waste shows up: Environmental, financial, and human potential.
Environmental waste occurs when raw materials are used inefficiently or disposed of because of inefficient maintenance activities.
Examples of environmental waste in maintenance include:
An increase in scrap or rework after equipment maintenance
Overuse of fuel by improperly maintained vehicles or unnecessary transportation to and from a worksite
Overstocking parts for maintenance due to an outdated inventory purchasing schedule
The impact of environmental waste from maintenance includes:
More pollution and trash
Higher carbon emissions
Increased safety hazards
Some strategies for reducing environmental waste in maintenance include:
Frequent inventory cycle counts and just-in-time purchasing to ensure your storeroom isn’t flooded with unused inventory
Grouping scheduled maintenance together in one time period to cut down on travel
A mandatory check from a second technician after repairs or replacements prior to production to ensure start-ups don’t result in scrap or rework
Financial waste refers to the extra costs from inefficient maintenance. It also includes lost production from unnecessary downtime.
Examples of financial waste in maintenance include:
Conduct frequent maintenance team meetings to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions
Automate activities you do frequently, like creating work orders or reports
Eliminate or reduce scheduled maintenance that has low rates of follow-up work
Train machine operators to do routine maintenance tasks
Creating a lean maintenance mindset
The first step in creating a lean maintenance strategy is to ask the right questions, challenge the way you do things, and be willing to change. This is a lean maintenance mindset and it’s essential to make lean maintenance strategies work long term.
There are four changes that’ll help you shift to a lean maintenance mindset:
1. From small details ? Big picture
There will always be days when your team is reacting to everything—putting out fires, getting last-minute requests, and racing to catch up on backlog.
But a lean maintenance mindset prevents this from becoming the norm. It allows you to build maintenance activities around business and production goals, and deprioritize or eliminate work that doesn’t connect to these goals.
For example, you might spend an hour every week creating a report. But if that report doesn’t help you eliminate waste, that time becomes waste itself. You can either spend time building more useful reports or do other waste-eliminating work.
2. From getting it done ? Collecting data as you go
A lot of maintenance teams operate in survival mode. Complete the task and move on to the next one. No time for any extra steps.
But a lean maintenance strategy hinges on data and taking the time to collect it. Those five extra minutes it takes to complete extra fields on a work order adds up. Having a lean maintenance mindset means building a buffer in your schedule to account for this. It also means everyone knows the importance of these extra steps and isn’t pressured to fudge the numbers to make up for lost time.
3. From big changes ? iterative improvements
Everyone wants to see big wins as quickly as possible. Our brains crave a finish line and tangible results.
But that’s not how lean maintenance works. Instead, it depends on making small, consistent improvements. If done right, it’s a process that’s never truly finished. The best way to tackle this shift is to give yourself and your team small goals and milestones, track progress, and celebrate success.
For example, you might want to cut out unnecessary steps in your scheduled maintenance. In lean maintenance, you’ll examine your work orders once a month to reduce delays and increase wrench time by 10% to 15% across the entire year. It’s crucial to track progress, celebrate it with your team, and get suggestions from technicians on how to keep winning. Technicians will feel a sense of ownership over this metric and will be invested in making progress.
4. From “that’s the way it is” ? “Is this necessary?”
It’s easy to accept the status quo. It’s uncomfortable to change. And it takes a lot of work.
But lean maintenance is all about challenging business as usual. You need to look at everything your team does with a critical eye and make changes if something no longer makes sense. This requires you to adopt a win-or-learn mentality instead of a win-or-fail mindset. Your team will be able to question things without blame or punishment.
For example, you might have done a PM at the same interval for a decade. But everything has changed in that time, from the equipment to the technician doing the work. You need to question how the PM is done as well. Should it be done more or less? Is it even necessary anymore?
Building a lean maintenance strategy
Building a lean maintenance strategy follows a three-step formula:
Understand what you’re currently doing and how you’re doing it
Find areas of waste and eliminate them
Create processes that allow you to do steps one and two over and over again
Step 1: Mapping your maintenance process
This step is about knowing how your team currently operates so you can find the work you’re doing too much of and work you’re not doing enough. This stage involves documenting your maintenance processes, including:
Key information about equipment, like criticality and failure modes (this FMEA template can help you collect this data)
What inspections and repairs are done, and how often
What an emergency looks like and how your team reacts
Step 2: Identify opportunities for improvement you can act on now
The next step is to find out where you’re spending too much time, money, or energy. Here are a few ways you can spot waste hiding in your processes:
Look at specific processes with members of your maintenance team. Ask them what part of the process takes the most time or where they face challenges when completing work. Use this insight to make activities easier and remove roadblocks.For example, something as small as misidentifying lubrication can lead to wasted time, breakdowns, lost production, and buying too many supplies. Colour-coding lubrication and bearings can eliminate this waste altogether.
Identify tasks that consistently take more time or money than planned and conduct a root cause analysis to find out why. This is more helpful than slashing costs, which can do more harm than good and doesn’t address the real reason for the waste.For example, labor costs for a weekly work order are twice as high as you’ve budgeted. An RCA might find repair times are longer than expected because different technicians are doing the work. You might tweak the schedule to put the same technician on the job so they can familiarize themselves with the work and do it faster.
Audit your planned maintenance work to make it more efficient. We outlined the steps for auditing your PMs in a separate article, but the main takeaway is to question the need for all regular maintenance and the frequency, timing, and resource for each task.For example, a PM might be triggered every 10 days, regardless of how much the asset is used. That can be a waste of time and money. In this situation, try triggering maintenance based on usage, like after every 100 hours of production.
Develop KPIs and metrics around the growth and success of your team. This data will allow you to find wasted potential on your maintenance team.For example, you might track turnover rates or knowledge-sharing opportunities on your team. These stats can uncover complex processes or areas of low productivity that you can correct. The end result is better morale and a higher-performing maintenance team.
Step 3: Build a long-term vision
The core vision of your lean maintenance strategy will always be to improve maintenance bit by bit so it supports business goals. But those goals may change, as will the things you need to improve.
This step is about documenting what you’ve iterated on, the impact of change, and what might come next.
If your iterations produced a negative result, don’t immediately jump back to the way things were. Instead, think about what caused the negative result and see if there’s another iterative improvement. It can take a few tries to get it right.
Choosing metrics for a lean maintenance strategy and tracking success
While every project will have different KPIs and metrics based on your desired outcomes, here are some best-practice metrics to start with:
Human potential waste
Maintenance costs (by asset, type, task, etc.)
Raw material usage
Equipment downtime (planned and unplanned)
Carbon emissions/energy use
Rate of corrective maintenance after inspections
Time spent on production support
Travel times to/from sites
Response rates to breakdowns/emergencies
Time spent on administrative tasks
Raw materials disposal (ie. oil)
Clean start-ups after maintenance
Number of steps in a maintenance process
While this isn’t a comprehensive look at lean maintenance metrics, it does give you a good foundation. And you don’t need to track, measure, and improve every metric. Choose metrics you can realistically collect and ones that connect to production and business goals.
There are two ways to create success plans around each metric and push your lean maintenance strategy forward. The first is to go small. Pick a few metrics and focus on improving specific areas of your maintenance operation. For example, if you want to reduce maintenance costs, choose your top 10 most expensive tasks. Focus on reducing waste in these activities.
The other method is to go broad. Aim for a goal that includes improving several metrics. For example, the ultimate target might be increasing efficiency through better standardization across sites. As part of this project, you can standardize the processes for work requests, reporting, and parts purchasing. There are several metrics you can use to build your project and track its success. This includes the number of steps in a maintenance process, time spent on admin tasks, response rates to breakdowns, and raw materials usage.
It’s essential to share your wins, regardless of your approach. The whole point of lean maintenance is to make small gains that add up to big ones over time. Showing off your success keeps momentum high, increases buy-in, and helps you advocate for more resources to expand your lean maintenance program.
Lean maintenance is ongoing
At its core, lean maintenance is about tying maintenance practices to business needs. This will likely ruffle feathers, but it’s a critical step to move maintenance from a cost center to a value driver. And when you do that, the world begins to open up for the maintenance team to be seen as a true business partner.
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.
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
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 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?
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.