5 Ways Your Maintenance Team Can Increase Production Efficiency

Every day, meat processing plants need to make sure the metal detectors in their machines are working. It’s a simple check to ensure there’s metal where there should be and no metal where there shouldn’t be.

This process involves running test balls through the machine. It takes about 45 minutes to complete (25 minutes of manual labour and 20 minutes of admin time). It’s routine maintenance— the type most people don’t give a second thought to.

It’s also an example of how tweaking maintenance processes can boost production efficiency. Instead of a manual check, the inspection can be done with an automated test-ball shooter. A button is pressed, the balls roll out on their own, and the task is wrapped up in five minutes. The result is more than 160 hours of extra equipment availability per year.

This is just one example of how companies can leverage maintenance to increase production efficiency. This article outlines several other strategies for bolstering production efficiency using maintenance, including:

  • How maintenance impacts production efficiency
  • Five ways the maintenance team can boost production capacity
  • How to measure the impact of maintenance on production

What is production efficiency?

Production efficiency is a measurement used mostly by manufacturers to determine how well (and how long) a company can keep up with demand. It compares current production rates to expected or standard production rates.

A higher rate of production efficiency delivers three critical outcomes for manufacturers:

  1. Reduced resource usage: Efficient production systems produce the same number of goods with fewer resources
  2. Higher financial margins: Efficient production means higher margins throughout the supply chain
  3.  A better customer experience: Efficient production allows products and services to be regularly and dependably delivered to customers

How to calculate production efficiency

The calculation for production efficiency compares the actual output rate to the standard output rate. The formula can be applied to either manual or automated work.

When it comes to industrial processes, the calculation takes quality into account. Let’s say you produce 50 units in an hour, but only 30 are useable. Your rate of production for that hour is 30 units.

The following formula is used to calculate production efficiency:

Production Efficiency = (Actual Output Rate / Standard Output Rate) x 100

For example, a manufacturing company receives a new order of 100 units. The standard rate of completion for 100 units is 10 hours, or 10 units per hour. However, the company took 12 hours to complete 100 quality units. In this case, the production efficiency formula would look like this:

Actual Output Rate = 100 units / 12 hours (8.3 units/hour)

Standard Output Rate = 100 units / 10 hours (10 units/hour)

Production Efficiency = (8.3 / 10) x 100 (83%)

In this instance, output and productivity levels are below capacity.

Production Efficiency Formula

How maintenance can increase production efficiency

Proper equipment maintenance is essential for increasing production efficiency. It ensures your total effective equipment performance (TEEP) is as high as it can be. Using preventive maintenance to keep assets operating at their best helps to:

  • Limit equipment downtime: If equipment is checked regularly, you can find and fix failures before they cause big breakdowns that disrupt production. Having a solid preventive maintenance schedule also allows you to coordinate with production so planned downtime is done quickly.
  • Establish a corrective action system for failures: Having a strategy to find, analyze, and fix failure (aka a FRACAS) allows you to target recurring issues at their root. You can spot and eliminate problems that impact equipment availability and product quality the most.
  • Coordinate better shift changeovers: Better changeovers between maintenance shifts means communicating the right information to technicians quickly and accurately. This includes a run-down of what work needs to be done, when, and any obstacles that might get in the way of that work.
  • Ensuring standard operating procedures are clear and maintained: SOPs train operators to do routine maintenance so machines can be operated with fewer breakdowns and accidents.
Stewart Fergusson quote

Five things your maintenance team can start doing tomorrow to increase production efficiency

There are a lot of projects that take months or years to complete. But getting quick wins is also crucial for building momentum and proving the value of your maintenance team. So, here are five things your maintenance team can start doing tomorrow to increase production efficiency.

1. Optimize the frequency of your PMs

A preventive maintenance schedule can be a good example of having too much of a good thing. Going overboard on preventive maintenance can affect production efficiency in two ways. You can either waste valuable time preventing non-existent failure. Or you can increase the risk of failure by meddling with a perfectly fine component.

These guidelines can help you find the right balance between too many PMs and too few:

  • Use equipment maintenance logs to track the found failure rate on preventive maintenance tasks. Start with PMs that take the longest to do or cost the most.
  • If a PM leads to regular corrective maintenance, keep it at the same frequency.
  • If a PM rarely identifies failure, try increasing the time between inspections. If the found failure rate exceeds the frequency of the PM, tweak your schedule so it’s better aligned. For example, an inspection might happen every two weeks. But a failure is usually found every six weeks. In this case, plan for the PM to happen every 4-6 weeks instead.
  • If a machine experiences frequent breakdowns between inspections, try shortening maintenance intervals. You can also modify the trigger for maintenance, changing it from a time-based trigger to usage or performance-based trigger.
PDCA model

2. Identify machines that can be maintained while running

Some routine maintenance can be done while a machine is still operating. Find out if there are any assets that can be safely worked on while being used for production. The key word there is ‘safely’. This might mean that some work can’t be done because certain areas of a machine aren’t safely accessible while it’s operating. In this scenario, determine if partial maintenance is possible and if it’ll have a positive impact on the performance of the equipment.

It’s also a good idea to track rotating or spare assets and swap them for production equipment when possible. That allows you to do regular maintenance on these machines without sacrificing productivity.

3. Make equipment capabilities transparent and clear

Create an iron-clad list of instructions for operating equipment and common issues to be aware of. You can use a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) to create a list of common failures experienced by each asset. This can also include warning signs for breakdowns.

Having this information clearly outlined and easily accessible gives operators a chance to notice the early signs of failure and notify maintenance before it gets worse. Employees will be empowered to observe and identify any potential problems, and report them accordingly.

4. Use work order data to identify where your team can be more efficient

Work order data can tell you what jobs can get done quicker and how to minimize the risk of asset failure so you can boost production efficiency. Look for these telltale signs of broken processes in your work orders:

  • Unavailable parts and supplies: If this issue is delaying maintenance, review the purchasing process for parts and supplies. That includes making sure your cycle counts are accurate and the threshold for purchase approvals is low enough that inventory can get replenished quickly. You can also create parts kits for frequent repairs or emergency repairs on production equipment so your team can locate and retrieve parts quickly.
  • Misidentified/misdiagnosed problems or missing instructions: Make sure task lists, failure codes, and descriptions are clear. Attach photos, manuals, and other documentation to the work order.
  • Diverted resources resulting from emergency work orders: Emergencies can always be avoided. Analyze your work order data, find tasks that are too big, and break it down into smaller jobs to reduce the risk of major disruptions.
  • Scheduling conflicts with production: See if maintenance can be scheduled while production is happening or if work can be done at an alternate time, like evenings or weekends. You can also consider giving operators minor maintenance responsibilities associated with the work order.
  • Lack of adequate worker skillset: Work order data can show you if the person/people assigned to the work may not have the right skills. Make it very clear on the work request what kind of skills or certifications are necessary for certain maintenance types.

5. Find the biggest obstacles for your team and eliminate them

You can learn a lot from the data that comes from your equipment and work orders. But sometimes, you just have to ask the people who are doing the actual work. They will be able to tell you what barriers they face when completing work. Acting on this information is crucial to continually improve your maintenance processes. All those improvements can add up to a huge boost in production efficiency.

For example, your technicians may spend a lot of time going back and forth from the office to retrieve manuals, asset histories, or other materials that help them on a job. You probably won’t know that just by looking at work order records or wrench time reports. Armed with this information, you can figure out a solution. Maybe that’s creating areas throughout your facility where files can be accessed for nearby assets. Or it could be digitizing those files so they can be accessed through a mobile device.

Here are a few questions to ask your technicians to find any roadblocks:

  • What tasks commonly take you away from a machine?
  • Are information and parts easily accessible? If not, why?
  • What information would help you complete work more efficiently?
  • Are there processes or systems that are hard to use or you think could be improved?
  • Is there anything that frequently keeps you from starting a task on time?

Four ways to measure the impact of maintenance on production efficiency

There are many ways to measure how your maintenance efforts are affecting production efficiency. The most common metrics are the following:

Found failure rate on preventive maintenance

This metric will help you measure how efficient your preventive maintenance schedule is. If your found failure rate is high, it means you’re cutting down on unnecessary maintenance while preventing major disruptions to production.

Unplanned asset downtime (last 90 days)

This number tracks the amount of unplanned equipment downtime and compares it to the previous 90-day period. Because each minute of downtime lowers your production efficiency, this number highlights how maintenance is contributing to healthier, higher-performing assets.

Average time to respond to and repair breakdowns

This stat quantifies all the work you’ve done to prepare for emergencies. Breakdowns will happen. Having a plan to quickly and safely fix these failures will help you reduce the amount of time production is stalled.

Clean start-ups

Compare the amount of useable products coming from the equipment prior to and after maintenance is completed. If the machine is running better after maintenance, it’s proof that your team is increasing production capacity in a meaningful way.

Maintenance has the opportunity to drive production efficiency

Maintenance often gets talked about as an expense. A necessary evil. A cost-center. But the reality is, good maintenance can drive your business forward. When you keep the machines running, you can do more, faster, with less. That means happier customers, a better bottom line, and more profit for everyone in the supply chain. It’s a true win-win-win.

In order to turn maintenance from a cost centre to a business driver, you need to reorient maintenance as a business function and start asking how maintenance can drive production efficiency. From there, a world of opportunity opens up.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/increase-production-efficiency-with-maintenance/

The perfect formula for aligning operations and maintenance

When operations and maintenance don’t work well together, it can be costly. And messy. Take this story of a food manufacturer as an example.

The facility uses a sheeter, which rolls huge balls of dough. The sheeter needs to be cleaned every day. The production team regularly cleans the machine with water. There’s just one problem with this—water makes the dough clump up and break the machine. As a result, emergency maintenance is the norm.

If this situation feels familiar to you, you’re not alone. It happens thousands of times a day. Operations and maintenance have different goals, motivations, and processes. The result is confusion, frustration, and finger-pointing. This isn’t good for business or employee health.

This article is all about learning how to break that cycle and improve alignment between operations and maintenance, including:

  • Metrics to share
  • How to increase collaboration
  • Tips for building joint processes

Why aligning operations and maintenance should be your top priority

Any manufacturer working to reduce waste is either leading the pack or about to break away from the field. For proof of that, look no further than the fact that manufacturers waste 20% of every dollar they spend.

Waste often appears during production as highlighted by these scary stats (courtesy of automation.com):

  • Large industrial facilities lose over 323 production hours a year to unplanned downtime
  • The average annual cost of downtime is $532,000 per hour or $172 million per plant
  • The cost of downtime for Fortune 500 manufacturers is equal to 8% of annual revenues
Cost of DowntimeAutomotiveFMCG/CPGHeavy IndustryOil & Gas
Unplanned downtime hours per facility each month29252332
Cost per hour of downtime$1,343,400$23,600$187,500$220,000

Huge costs are one thing. But work delays, reactive maintenance, and emergency purchases have a mental and physical toll as well.

Improving the relationship between operations and maintenance is critical to cutting downtime at its source.

“When maintenance and operations are aligned, it allows the business to find issues within the operations,” says Jason Afara, Senior Solutions Engineer at Fiix.

“And then business leaders can make informed decisions on how to correct these issues with the appropriate resources. It turns guessing games and blame games into a unified effort.”

Where to align operations and maintenance processes

Planning scheduled downtime

The definition of efficient maintenance is keeping equipment up and running with as little downtime as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done. The production team has quotas to fill. Anything that gets in the way of hitting that target is a threat. That includes maintenance.

“We would fight operations just to get a little bit of maintenance on a machine,” says Jason, remembering his time as a maintenance manager.

This is all too common and unproductive. Luckily, there are two ways maintenance and operations can create a plan for preventive maintenance that benefits both groups:

  1. Use data to compare the impact of maintenance to the impact of failure
  2. Develop shared processes that reduce the amount of scheduled downtime

The first step is for both teams to understand how their activities affect the performance of equipment. Once again, it’s often more complicated than it sounds.

“This is where maintenance departments usually fail,” says Charles Rogers, a Senior Implementation Consultant at Fiix with over 33 years of experience in maintenance.

“They don’t have data to back up their asks. You have to be able to prove your case and show evidence that if you don’t do maintenance on schedule, there will be much worse consequences at some point—probably sooner than later.”

The best way to align your efforts is to determine the acceptable risk and the consequences of failure as one team. Share information on common failure modes, how often they’re expected to happen, as well as repair times and costs for each one. Compare this to the frequency of scheduled maintenance, the time it takes to do these tasks, and the costs involved.

Quantifying the difference makes it clear that scheduling frequent breaks in production for maintenance is a better way for both teams to hit their goals and avoid big, time-consuming breakdowns.

Creating shared processes between operations and maintenance allows the teams to share and action data. For example, it allows operators to detect small failures and maintenance technicians to respond to them faster. Examples of these processes include:

  • Regular meetings between operations and maintenance leaders to discuss production and preventive maintenance schedules, spec changes on machines, or other updates
  • Quarterly meetings between the two teams to discuss successes, challenges, solutions, and root cause analysis
  • A work request process that enables machine operators to quickly and confidently identify problems and empowers technicians to prioritize and respond to issues with minimal disruption

Creating shared work and clear responsibilities

Any mention of operations and maintenance working together will inevitably lead to talk of total productive maintenance (TPM). You can read a short primer on TPM here, but the idea is that everyone at a company (from technicians to accountants) is responsible and involved in maintenance.

Making operations part of the maintenance process is one of the easiest and most effective ways to begin building a TPM program. Here’s an example of how that might be done:

How operations can be involved chart

The key to making these shared processes successful is to create clear job responsibilities. When people know exactly what they need to do, it helps you:

  • Provide the right training and materials to the right people
  • Create accurate timelines and budgets
  • Test new processes, optimize them, and expand them
  • Pick out bad data and figure out the root cause of it

Start defining clear responsibilities by creating a maintenance type for operators. This allows you to track how much work you’re giving to operations. It also helps you design work order templates for operators so they know what to do and where to go if the scope of work changes.

Building realistic work timelines

When operations and maintenance know how long it takes to get things done, it’s easier to set schedules, budgets, and targets accordingly. It also prevents unseen delays, reduces frustration, and fosters respect between the two teams. But it’s not useful to share maintenance timelines if they aren’t accurate. There are a few strategies to make sure expectations match reality:

  1. Look at equipment maintenance logs. Identify work that frequently takes longer than is expected, and adjust timelines accordingly.
  2. Analyze your work order data to find PMs with a high rate of required follow-up maintenance. Factor that into your brief to the operations team.
  3. Account for parts of a work order that fall outside of actual wrench time. That includes retrieving parts, completing safety procedures, and running tests on machines.

Providing realistic timelines doesn’t always mean your schedules will match up. But it does help operations and maintenance have a conversation about what can be done in the time you have. When determining what maintenance can be sacrificed for production, here are a few questions to ask:

Five questions to help operations and maintenance solve scheduling conflicts

Five ways to build a strong relationship between operations and maintenance

Your operations and maintenance teams might be best friends. Or maybe there’s some tension between them. Whatever the relationship is like, there’s always an opportunity to make it better with a few, simple strategies.

Create multiple ways for the two teams to communicate

Communicating with other teams is often one of the first activities to be abandoned when work gets busy. That’s why there needs to be formal processes in place to maintain the flow of information. Creating dedicated channels for communication might include:

  • Team meetings: Regular meetings create space for everyone’s voice to be heard and to keep challenges, plans, and updates visible
  • Channels to post and see updates: This can be anything from a whiteboard to a WhatsApp group, or a digital work request portal for tracking the status of requests
  • Peer reviews: This is a process where operations and maintenance team members review each other anonymously to identify how they can work better together

There are a few key pieces of information to discuss when you’re working in these channels:

  • Machines updates: Bring up spec changes, potential problems, safety risks, or updates to standard operating procedures
  • Schedules: Talk about upcoming work, risks or conflicts, what’s needed to be successful, and any changes from what was previously discussed
  • Reporting: Review targets, progress, troubling trends, or major successes in your reporting
  • Roadblocks and solutions: Discuss major challenges or questions your team has and collaborate on ways to remove those obstacles
  • Long-term planning: Figure out how both teams can continually improve, including how to better manage budgets, hit long-term goals, and develop new skills

Having a framework for communication between operations and maintenance allows you to turn talk into action. Here are a few ground rules:

  • Focus on solutions, not blame: Finding a solution should be the goal of all your conversations
  • Focus on the collective: Find solutions that work for everyone, instead of trying to win an argument or battle for your team
  • Develop a feedback loop: Create trust by actioning feedback and keeping everyone aware of progress
  • Value consistency, but stay flexible: Commit to communicating, but understand that meetings might need to move around once in a while if an emergency occurs
  • Create an agenda for all meetings: Have a plan for what you’re going to talk about so you can make the most of everyone’s time

Set the same goals

There will be less friction between operations and maintenance when the two teams define success the same way. There might be different ideas on how to get to your goal, but both departments will be moving in the same direction.

“In the worst scenario, these departments are siblings who are constantly fighting,” says Jason.

“But in the best-case scenario, you’re working together to achieve the same goals, celebrating together when you hit those targets, and joining forces to get back on track when you don’t.

There are a few metrics that both operations and maintenance can share responsibility for:

  1. Clean start-ups after maintenance and first-pass yield/first-pass good: Both numbers aim to measure efficiency and waste
  2. Total cost per unit of production: Both operations and maintenance can be accountable for reducing costs while improving quality
  3. Time spent supporting production/maintenance: Tracking the time each team spends supporting the other will help you allocate resources and create effective hiring plans
  4. Unplanned downtime( last 90 days): See the impact of preventive maintenance and the shared processes that make this work efficient
  5. Mean time to detect and repair: Everyone has a part in finding and fixing failure before it leads to breakdowns and doing so with as little disruption to the business as possible

Integrate production and maintenance systems

It’s easy for operations to have a negative view of maintenance when their only exposure to it is a breakdown or service interruption. Integrating the systems used for production and maintenance provides visibility into each team’s work. This allows you to see the positive impact of each department and help each other accomplish even more.

Ryan Robinson’s maintenance team is a great example of how integrating maintenance software with equipment and production systems can deliver incredible results. Ryan, the shop manager at a wholesale tree grower, connected sensors on several machines with a CMMS. This gave him the data he needed to optimize maintenance intervals and increase production efficiency.

“Because we know how equipment is used on a daily basis, we have some idea of what is going to be expected of maintenance tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day,” says Ryan.

Ryan was also able to use this data to spot vehicles with high idle times. He brought this information to the farm manager, who figured out the reason why and found a solution.

Read Ryan’s story

World-class maintenance teams are aligned with operations

Operations and maintenance are the heartbeat of any company with lots of assets and big production targets. That’s why it’s essential that they develop a healthy relationship and formal processes for working together. The two teams must share everything from the metrics they aim for to the systems they use, and the schedule that guides their work. Joining forces gives them better visibility into the challenges that face the business and the power to overcome them. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/guide-to-aligning-operations-and-maintenance/

How to combine data and storytelling to get your maintenance project approved

Competing for money and resources can be brutal. Everyone wants the same slice of budget that just opened up. That includes the maintenance team. There are probably a thousand things you can think of doing with a little extra money. And you know they would all make a difference.

But you need to convince the people with the keys to the budget that this money will be well-spent in your hands. That requires you to stand out from the crowd and get business leaders to buy into your vision for your maintenance project.

If it seems like it would be easier to climb Mount Everest than to get that buy-in, this article is for you. It gives you a formula for combining two powerful forces in the fight for project approval: Data and storytelling.

There are six steps for building the perfect pitch for your maintenance project. At each stage, you’ll find out how to use data and storytelling to elevate your ask above others so you can get approval for your project and the budget to match.

Step 1: Present a problem

Why this works

Your project is a change. And change is painful. That’s why you need to show that the pain of doing nothing (aka your current situation) is worse than the pain of changing. Find a problem that your project solves and lead with it.

How to tell the story

There are three steps for telling the story of your problem:

  1. Describe the problem
  2. Show what the problem looks like
  3. Explain the impact of the problem
The problem: Our storeroom is disorganized, What it looks like: Technicians can’t find the parts they are looking for and it’s hard to track parts usage, The impact: Work takes longer than expected and is leading to delays, downtime, and more backlog

What data to use

Make your best effort to quantify your problem. In the example above, you might talk about:

  • The average time to retrieve parts from the storeroom
  • The number of emergency parts needed each month
  • The number of downtime hours tied to the disorganized storeroom

Some other examples of quantifying a problem include:

  • Cost: How much is the problem costing your team?
  • Time: Are you spending more time than you should on a task? What is that keeping you from doing instead?
  • Health and safety: Are audit compliance tasks not getting done, or are near misses getting higher?
  • Employee retention: Is it hard to hang on to good team members?
  • Quality: How is a deficiency for your team affecting the end product?

Step 2: Outline your solution

Why this works

Now that you have a villain in your story (the problem), it’s time to introduce the hero (your project). People like to poke holes in a project because it’s a leap into the unknown. But they’re less likely to do this when the project is the answer to a problem they’re worried about.

How to tell the story

Describing your solution with a three-step approach:

  • Describe your solution/project
  • Explain how it solves the problem
  • Outline the outcome/benefits
We’ll hire a storeroom manager who will be responsible for organizing, purchasing, and tracking parts. Having someone dedicated to managing the storeroom will allow us to find parts faster, complete work easier, and respond to emergencies quickly. We’ll be able to slash downtime, reduce our massive backlog, and hit our throughput targets.

What data to use

Attaching numbers to your claims will help them resonate. For example, find out how many labor hours you could save if technicians didn’t need to spend their time searching for parts. That may seem like a small number. But if you multiply it by weeks, months, or years, it can add up fast.

All those benefits don’t exist in a vacuum. If you spend five hours a month on repairs instead of rifling through the storeroom, it could mean five more hours of production, which could be huge for your organization.

There are a few ways you can get this data:

  • Work order data: If you want to improve a process, break it out on your work orders and have technicians record how much time or money they spend on that process
  • Your peers: If you don’t know how much of an hour is worth to the production team, ask them or consult the OEM guidelines for an asset
  • Conduct a controlled experiment: Test your solution on a small, low-risk asset or process and measure the results before and after (this will also help you in step #4).

Step 3: Align your solution with business goals

Why this works

Everyone, from the CEO to a junior technician, has a target to hit. If your project gets people closer to hitting their targets, you’re more likely to get their support. It turns your project from something the maintenance department wants to do to something the business has to do. It creates an emotional investment in the idea, which can quickly turn into a financial investment.

How to tell the story

This story is told in three parts:

  1. Determine the goals of the business: This could be anything from reducing costs to opening new sites around the world
  2. Connect that goal to maintenance work: Highlight what the maintenance team is doing and how that impacts the higher-level goal
  3. Tie that work to the project: Explain how your project can either close a gap or improve what you’re already doing in your maintenance program
The business goal: Improve cost efficiency, The maintenance work: Maintenance costs (labor and inventory) impact the cost efficiency of production and distribution, The project: Hiring a storeroom manager will cut maintenance costs by reducing spending on emergency parts.

What data to use

You’ve identified the impact of your maintenance project on business goals. Now it’s time to answer the question, “By how much?” Here are a few examples of tying a maintenance project to company initiatives with data:

  • Cost efficiency: Hiring a specialist will allow us to cut contractor costs by $100,000 a year and increase production time by 8% a year
  • Expansion: Buying maintenance software gives us the power to standardize maintenance processes so we can set up new maintenance teams in 30 days instead of 60 (This guide has many more tips for convincing your boss to invest in software)
  • Risk reduction: A dedicated inventory manager will track and forecast parts usage so we can prepare for supply chain disruptions and cut emergency purchases by 40%

Step 4: Prove the project will work

Why this works

People hate the unknown. Risk is a dirty word, especially in budget discussions. That’s why proving your project will work is essential for getting it, and its budget, approved. A lot of skepticism around your plan will disappear if you can show your idea can, and has been done, before.

How to tell the story

There are a few different angles you can take to prove your project is a sure thing:

  1. Find examples of other companies that have done the same project with good results. Bonus points if it’s a competitor or a well-known company.
  2. See if another team or site at your company has gone through a similar project and what the positive outcomes were. For example, how have maintenance teams at other sites approached the problem you’re trying to solve?
  3. Conduct a small experiment or pilot of your idea and present the findings. If you do a trial of free maintenance software, you can show how a paid version will bring a return on the investment.
Where to find proof that your project will work: Case studies, Similar internal projects, pilot programs.

What data to use

Collecting data from case studies or pilot projects is only half the battle. The strongest pitches take these results and translate them to fit your team and the scale of the project. For example, another company may have seen 30% fewer breakdowns after installing sensors on all their machines. But what if it’s only realistic for you to monitor sensor readings on a handful of assets? Will it yield the same results?

Here’s another example: Let’s say a month-long pilot project has helped you save 20 hours of administrative work. If you put this project in place full-time, it would save you 240 hours a year. In other words, it would free up 12% of your time.

Step 5: Identify risks

Why this works

Every project has its risks. This isn’t a secret. Ignoring potential pitfalls will quickly send your project into ‘too good to be true’ territory. Anticipating these speed bumps shows you are prepared to navigate around them without spending too much time or money. And that’ll make your boss (and their boss) more comfortable with the project.

How to tell the story

The secret is to pair every risk you’ve identified with a plan for conquering it, like these examples:

  1.  Risk: Technicians won’t use the software we’re introducing
    Plan: Involve them in the selection process so they’re comfortable with the system
  2.  Risk: It will take longer than we think to onboard a new hire
    Plan: Record short tutorials for routine tasks to shorten the learning curve
  3.  Risk: Our backlog will get bigger while we implement the project
    Plan: Develop a system to prioritize and complete backlogged work to reduce risk
  4.  Risk: We’ll overspend on the project
    Plan: Create a well-defined project roadmap to prevent scope creep and overspending

What data to use

Risk prevention is about spotting red flags on the horizon. Just like a high level of vibration could signal an impending breaking down, there’s data that’ll help you find a threat to your project and stop it. Presenting these KPIs during your pitch will show that you’re not gauging risk based on a hunch.

For example, you could measure adoption rates if you were implementing new software. If adoption rates are low, you could do more training to get your team comfortable with the system.

Other examples of red flag data include:

Costs, Completion rates for project tasks, Backlog of project tasks, Planned time on project tasks vs. actual time on project tasks, Data quality, Employee satisfaction

Step 6: Outline your plan and requirements

Why this works

This step is about filling out the specifics of your plan so everyone understands how it’ll affect you, your team, and the rest of the organization in the weeks or months to come. It also shows that the resources and support you’re asking for will be put to use quickly and effectively to produce reliable results faster.

How to tell the story

Avoid a massive list of everything you plan to accomplish and the resources you need. Break your project into milestones. Then figure out what you’ll need and how you’ll measure success at each step using this framework:

Milestones A, B & C with 1. Timeline  2. Tasks  3. Stakeholders  4. Resources and costs  5. KPIs
  1. Timeline: How long will this step of the project take? Pro tip: if it takes longer than a couple of months, consider breaking this step into even smaller touchpoints.
  2. Tasks: What will you accomplish at this step of the project? If the end goal of this step is to complete an audit of all weekly scheduled maintenance, one of your tasks could be to review all task lists for accuracy.
  3. Stakeholders: Determine who’ll be involved at each step of the project. Pro tip: Highlight how involved each stakeholder will be. For example, who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed?
  4. Resources and costs: What resources will you need to accomplish each task and how much will they cost? This can range from labor and parts costs to software subscriptions.
  5. KPIs: How will you measure success at each stage. This could be anything from what you’ve accomplished (ie. audit 50% of work orders) to its impact (ie. wrench time in the last 90 days).

What data to use

A lot of focus will be put on costs at this step. The best way to soften the blow is to compare the cost of the project to what the company is spending (or losing) without your solution.

For example, hiring a storeroom manager and creating an inventory program will cost about $125,000 a year. The company is currently spending about $250,000 a year on lost production time and emergency parts purchases.

When measuring success metrics, look at rolling averages to mark progress. Set up your metrics like this:

  1. Define your success metrics. Ie. Time to retrieve parts
  2. Set benchmarks. Ie. It takes an average of 20 minutes to retrieve parts
  3. Track 90-day progress. Ie. The average time to retrieve parts has dropped by 33% (6.5 minutes) over the last 90 days

The perfect pitch combines data and storytelling

People don’t invest in projects. They invest in problems, solutions and outcomes. And the best way to get their attention is with stories. Sprinkling some data in there drives home the size, scale, and impact of those problems, solutions, and outcomes.

You don’t need a ground-breaking idea to use this framework. It works just as well for a massive overhaul of your maintenance systems as it does for getting extra money for a contractor. So the next time you need to justify your budget, pitch an idea, or just want a vote of confidence for a new process, just remember that storytelling and data are your best friends.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/using-data-and-storytelling-to-get-maintenance-project-and-budget-approval/

The link between maintenance and a more sustainable world

This article was written by Katie Allen, Fiix’s Sustainability and Social Impact Manager.

Waste. Garbage. Rubbish. Litter. Trash. Excess. These concepts are relatively new in our modern world. Waste was often synonymous with barren land and had nothing to do with the disposal.

Garbage — the act of throwing something away — was introduced in the early 1900s. Now, it’s a regular part of life— we buy, we use, and then we throw away. This is so common that we have entire waste management systems with teams of people and machinery dedicated to our garbage.

This used to be my job. I would advise the public on where to put items when they were ready to throw them out. I would pick through big, black garbage bags on grueling hot days, dissecting, weighing, and sorting what people threw out. I helped divert hazardous and electronic waste from entering the landfill. I even managed a vermicomposter.

But in all my years doing this work, I never once offered a way for people to fix their stuff so it didn’t need to be tossed out in the first place.

We focused so heavily on reduce, reuse, and recycle that we forgot the most important ‘R’: Repair — the act of looking after your stuff.

We were not the only ones to miss this. It’s not common to receive a maintenance or repair manual when purchasing a product. You often need to search the web to find a community post or a video on how to fix something.

Maintenance and repair is regarded as a mundane practice in our society instead of being recognized as a sustainable approach to product consumption and creation. While we focus on the next, new, shiny thing, we forget the infrastructure, products, and equipment we already have.

The 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal focuses most heavily on addressing this deficit with the circular economy. The goal states that, “Responsible consumption and production” will help us decrease our reliance on natural resources, increase sustainability reporting, reduce waste in all forms, and ultimately encourage lifestyles that are synonymous with nature.

While this is a highly ambitious and admirable goal, they are missing a critical component: Maintenance and repair. Maintenance is the primary method for life cycle management. While it is important to rethink the way we design products (and the machines that make them) and how we recycle them, we need to think about the way we actually use the product. This is key to understanding the circular economy and how we can use it to bolster our efforts for sustainability.

What is the circular economy?

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is leading research on the circular economy and defines it as a system “based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”

We are shifting to a system where we design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, regenerate natural systems
Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/what-is-the-circular-economy

We currently function in a linear economic system based on a take-make-waste model. Many of the resources we extract are used and eventually wasted.

This system is problematic for many reasons. Its inefficiency is wreaking havoc on our natural world with mass amounts of waste and pollution, which also negatively impacts our most vulnerable societies. This system is depicted in the graphic below. It maps all our global resources from extraction to end-of-use. Minerals, ores, fossil fuels, and biomass make up everything from our homes to our food.

As Robert Kunzig points out, “Two-thirds of the material flowing through the economy, 67.4 billion tons in 2015, gets emitted as pollution or otherwise scattered or disposed of as waste.”

While these resources are essential components of our economy, we are witnessing colossal inefficiencies throughout the process resulting in what’s called externalities.

An externality is a cost or benefit of an economic activity experienced by an unrelated third party.

Resources graphic
Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/03/how-a-circular-economy-could-save-the-world-feature/

Waste, represented by the grey “end of use” bubbles at the bottom of the graphic, is the most obvious negative externality. Other negative externalities include air pollution, emissions, and the wealth gap.

The circular economy is all about accounting for these externalities. We can phase out waste and pollution from the beginning with responsible design. Through maintenance best practices, we can increase the lifespan of assets, keep material in use, and create greater value socially, environmentally, and economically. And through the regeneration of our natural systems, we can create a thriving, circular economy that works within planetary boundaries.

What is maintenance?

Maintenance is the best way to keep materials in use.

Maintenance is any activity—such as tests, measurements, replacements, adjustments, and repairs—intended to retain or restore a functional unit in or to a specified state in which the unit can perform its required functions.1

You can find examples of maintenance in all aspects of your life, from brushing your teeth to changing the oil in your car or washing your dishes. These are all forms of maintenance that keep us and our belongings functioning as intended.

In industrial settings, maintenance is performed through a variety of strategies that best suit the asset in question. Typically, these strategies are applied to some of the biggest machinery and equipment in the world. Some examples include managing air flow and air quality in electrical and HVAC units, replacing filters, cleaning bearings, pumping tires, and fixing conveyor belts, reactors, and pumps. This takes place in factories, food processing, and energy production facilities, data centers, and manufacturing plants.

Maintenance and repair strategies keep many of these operations running efficiently, supporting very large, positive outcomes across the triple bottom line of sustainability: People, Planet, and profit.

Benefits of maintenance

Click image to enlarge:

Benefits of maintenance graphic
Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept/infographic

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation showcases the different elements of the circular economy in the map above, The smaller circles represent the most efficient solutions in terms of cost, materials, and resources.

Here, maintenance makes up the smallest circle, and thus the most efficient and accessible solution. This is because, at its core, maintenance is about keeping the same equipment, materials, and assets in use. With rising costs of raw materials and end-of-life treatment, maintenance becomes a very attractive solution to kick-start the circular economy and build momentum in a more sustainable direction.

In Sobral and Ferreira’s 2018 article, they argue that the fundamental principles of maintenance — continuous improvement, improving performance, and increasing lifespan — are the foundation of Lean Thinking. The main objective of Lean Thinking is to improve society while eliminating waste. Maintenance and efficiency go hand-in-hand, creating positive outcomes beyond just eliminating waste. An effective maintenance strategy can result in improvements across the triple bottom line, as highlighted in the graphic below:

people, planet, profit graphic

Socially, better maintenance practices can improve health and safety, the quality of workplaces, and the local community. In various studies, it has been reported that better maintenance is associated with lower injury frequency, and when done poorly, maintenance accounts for 10% of workplace incidents.

Environmentally, maintenance can improve air quality, reduce emissions, and reduce waste. It can also prolong asset lifespans, reduce energy consumption, and reduce water consumption. A preventive maintenance program can result in 20% savings in raw material usage. In the residential sector, regular maintenance can save up to 35% of energy costs. In vehicles, researchers found a 30% reduction in emissions following maintenance.

Economically, maintenance reduces costs, improves utilization, and aids with compliance. These are the most common indicators of success. In some instances, predictive maintenance can save up to 12% of costs and decrease downtime by up to 45%.

Measuring all the ways in which maintenance has an impact is critical to the success of any organization. Highlighting these efficiencies and giving maintenance the credit it deserves will help advance the circular economy.

Barriers to success

As it stands today, maintenance isn’t prioritized or recognized. The Maintainers, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., have long sung the praises of maintenance and repair. They examine our obsession with innovation and our disregard for the mundane.

Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations.

– Andrew Russell & Lee Vinsel

We are so focused on new things, whether physical or conceptual, that we fail to recognize the critical, overlooked, and the underpaid role that maintenance plays in our society. Failing to meet our maintenance needs can have catastrophic consequences. The ongoing cost of maintenance and repair is often undervalued when building infrastructure. That’s when things break, crack, and deteriorate.

In 2019, America’s infrastructure was given a report with a final grade of D+. A team of 28 civil engineers from across the country analyzed everything from energy infrastructure to railways and schools. They found that nearly everything was deteriorating to a point of concern, with most infrastructure approaching the end of its service life.

The impact of this is frightening, costing the US millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in GDP, while externalities are going unmeasured, costing us in pollution and health and safety.

COVID-19 showed us that it’s up to us to keep the world running, and when we stop, we notice. Technical maintenance is often seen as a cost centre rather than an opportunity to save money, time, energy, and waste. The current narrative surrounding maintenance is not exciting, nor is it measured properly, so we don’t understand its full value and potential.

Maintenance and repair need a rebrand and a re-education campaign. It must be considered as a key source of efficiency in the circular economy and we should be placing resources in these areas to understand how to improve practices.

Technology is helping with this rebrand. Tools, like a CMMS, help organizations track, schedule, and organize maintenance activities. Tracking data is critical. Analyzing that data using artificial intelligence can enable companies to find trends and areas for improvement. Utilizing technology can help bring light into what was once a black hole of information.

Driving the circular economy forward with better maintenance

There are three factors at play that will help us advance the circular economy through better maintenance.

First, the maintenance, reliability, and asset management space needs to recognize and prioritize the best sustainability practices from this line of work and measure it. Technology will be critical in capturing this information.

Second, circular economy research and advocacy must incorporate maintenance and repair as critical steps in advancing sustainability.

Lastly, organizations must adopt technology that enables these best practices. Without adequate data collection, measurement, or management, many of these benefits are lost and aren’t accounted for.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel as we reach for sustainability. We just need to look after what we already have.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/maintenance-and-sustainability-framework/

Five ways to stretch your maintenance budget further

One of the worst things about getting your maintenance budget cut is all the questions.

Do I need to lay off staff? How can we hit our targets with fewer resources? What projects are essential and what can wait? Is my job safe?

It’s enough to keep you up at night for a while.

We talked to a few experts who’ve been there before. They told us how they managed a smaller maintenance budget while hitting their targets, keeping up with preventive maintenance, and avoiding staff burnout.

How to find extra room in your budget

In your storeroom (Build a just-in-time purchasing process), In your schedule (Eliminate unnecessary PMs), In your work orders (Increase wrench time to boost efficiency), In your processes (Train operators to do routine maintenance), In your people (Crowd-source cost-effective solutions)

#1 – Find it in your storeroom

Pay close attention to your inventory minimums when restocking parts and supplies, says Joe McVay, an Implementation Consultant at Fiix with experience in facility maintenance.

“Many organizations don’t realize how much cash flow is tied up in inventory in the warehouse that could be bought just-in-time from multiple vendors without interrupting the business,” says Joe.

Look for parts in your storeroom that are either not immediately critical or can be easily sourced from vendors with short lead-times. Adjust your purchasing schedule accordingly so you’re not spending money on unnecessary inventory.

Many vendors also offer ‘keep stock’ programs, says Joe. These programs guarantee the availability of parts without adding them to your books until you need them. This gives you short-term flexibility in your budget without the risk.

#2: Find it in your schedule

Preventive maintenance is great, but too much will cost you. You can reduce the cost of labor and parts without sacrificing asset health by cutting unnecessary PMs, says Charles Rogers, Fiix’s Senior Implementation Consultant with over 33 years of experience in maintenance.

“If your regular inspections aren’t finding something wrong with an asset, you can probably do them less often,” says Charles.

He recommends looking first at scheduled maintenance based on OEM guidelines. These PMs are more likely to have room for improvement because they weren’t created with your specific use case in mind. Monitor any PMs you change to make sure failure rates don’t increase.

Using a PDCA model to create the perfect PMs

#3: Find it in your work orders

Increasing wrench time helps you stretch your maintenance budget further, says Rob Kalwarowsky, a Reliability Engineer and Asset Manager.

Rob suggests calculating wrench time for all work, starting with jobs that have higher labor costs. Flag areas where wrench time is low. The average wrench time is 20% and 40% is world-class, says Rob.

“Once you have this baseline you can trace the cause of low wrench time to a root cause and tweak your schedules and processes to bridge that gap,” says Rob.

Increasing wrench time by a few percentage points across hundreds of repairs and PMs can save you thousands of dollars in labor and make up for some of your lost budget. And when maintenance is quicker, production gets more uptime. It’s a win-win for everyone.

#4: Find it in your processes

Your budget gets a little tighter every time a highly skilled technician stops what they’re doing to complete a routine task. That’s why Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix and former maintenance manager, suggests training operators to do routine maintenance.

“Operators know their machines best,” says Jason, “Give them the power to inspect machines…and do light maintenance that would otherwise take up your time.”

Not only will a few hours of training save you money in the long term, but it also helps you catch equipment failure earlier and prevent emergency maintenance, which eats into your budget.

#5: Find it in your people

This is another gem from Rob and it’s all about communication, engaging staff, and leading by example.

“You’re cutting maintenance that [your staff] believe they should be doing,” says Rob. “That’s going to have a negative impact.”

Low morale is more than some extra grumbling in the break room. It creates fear, mistrust, and information gaps, says Rob. When you’re missing the whole picture, you can’t see problems and prioritize work, which is essential after maintenance budget cuts.

“You need to foster a low-fear, high-trust environment so people can tell you exactly what’s happening on the shop floor,” says Rob.

Here are some ways to do that:

Book a regular meeting with staff to talk about concerns, roadblocks, solutions, and successes. It might take time for everyone to feel comfortable sharing. That means you could be the only one talking for a little while.

Stop playing the blame game. If a critical work order wasn’t done on time, talk to your technicians, find out what held them back, and think of a way to prevent it from happening again.

Create metrics that have nothing to do with efficiency. Your technicians need to know they’re being measured on how well they collaborate, identify problems, and work to find solutions. It tells your team that you care about them as much as the bottom line.

How to convince your boss to increase the maintenance budget

Getting a bigger maintenance budget is tough, but not impossible. We put together a few tried and tested strategies that other maintenance teams have used to score extra resources. They’ll help you change minds, make your case, and get the budget you need.

After you’ve read the strategies below, nail your pitch with this presentation template

Using backlog metrics to hire more people

If you’re strapped for cash, you’re probably also strapped for time. That means backlog. Lots of backlog. The good news is, it’s easy to get people on board with fixing this problem if you have the right data.

Start by tracking your preventive maintenance backlog in hours. Compare this number to the available hours for your workforce to determine the gap between the two.

The next step is to show how backlog impacts the business. Track mean time between failure and the cost of breakdowns. When MTBF goes up because you’re missing maintenance, it means more downtime and less production.

Use this data when you’re asking for the budget to hire an extra person, offer more overtime, or spend more on contractors. This is what worked for Tom Dufton, a maintenance and project manager at food manufacturer Perth Country Ingredients:

Get a six-step framework for tackling maintenance backlog

Using clean start-ups to justify higher labor costs

Other areas of your business suffer when the maintenance budget is cut. Your staff is spread thin, work is rushed (or missed), and equipment fails. Tracking clean start-ups is one way to prove this and get the extra cash you need to prevent it.

Clean start-ups was a key metric for Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, during his time as a production line manager at Proctor and Gamble. This KPI not only united maintenance and operations, but also tied directly to financial targets. That always gets people’s attention.

Unfortunately, clean start-ups are hard to achieve without the time, people, and resources to do proper maintenance, which takes money.

Making your case for this money starts with calculating the cost of lost time and production from poor start-ups for all machines across a full year. Compare this to the lower cost of extra people and resources to achieve clean start-ups.

Using time tracking metrics to show the ROI of technology

Administrative tasks waste time and money. If your technicians spend an hour a day writing work orders, that’s an hour of lost efficiency you’re paying for. So while it might seem cheaper to do everything by hand instead of with technology, it’ll cost you more in the long run.

Things like sensors and CMMS software come with a price tag. Getting an increase in your maintenance budget for these purchases starts with tracking the amount of time your team spends on administrative tasks. Then find out how much time you’d save with software.

The final step is to highlight how you would use this extra time and the impact that would have on company targets. For example, if you were able to do one more PM per day, how much more uptime could the company gain.

This was the strategy used by the maintenance team at Rambler Metals & Mining. The company was able to slash the time spent on administrative tasks by 15% after implementing a CMMS. They were able to do more preventive maintenance and reduce equipment failure.

Everything you just read in three sentences

1. Eliminating waste, whether it’s parts you don’t need or delays in your work, is crucial when dealing with maintenance budget cuts.

2. Don’t forget to communicate with your team, include them in decision-making, and be open to feedback so you can avoid a toxic work environment.

3. If you’re asking for an increase in your maintenance budget, lean on numbers to prove the value of maintenance and highlight what your company is losing by not investing in maintenance.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/five-ways-to-stretch-your-maintenance-budget-further/

How to Plan and Schedule Work Orders Like the Best Maintenance Teams

What happens when work order plans go wrong

The maintenance team at Century Aluminum was fighting an uphill battle from day one.

“The philosophy has been, ‘It’s what goes out the door that counts,” said millwright Linda Sibley in this interview with Reliable Plant, “not how well the machinery is running.”

Pumping out product, equipment health be damned, was obviously not a sustainable model. It fueled a culture of reactive thinking, leading to lots of breakdowns, data shortages, low morale, and much more.

“When you are in such a reactive mode, it’s next to impossible to do much planning. It’s all about putting out fires,” said maintenance planner Todd Harrison.

Needless to say, there was a hunger for change. But despite the maintenance department’s best efforts, the preventive maintenance program struggled to get off the ground. The reason progress stalled could be linked back to one thing: Poor maintenance planning and scheduling.

Probably one-third of the PMs are no good,” said maintenance manager Jim Doeffinger. “We waste time doing irrelevant PMs.”

No one wants to constantly take two steps forward and one step back. That’s why this post will go in-depth on best practices and simple frameworks for strong maintenance planning and work order scheduling.

How to get really good at maintenance planning

There are two ingredients you need to be really good at planning work orders:

  1. Clear goals for maintenance that align with the goals of the organization
  2. A way to prioritize maintenance activities based on your goals

All your work processes, schedules, training, and SOPs flow from your goals and priorities.

“You really need to go back to the fundamentals of the organization and find out what they’re objectives are for maintenance,” says Charles Rogers, a Senior Implementation Consultant at Fiix with over 33 years of experience in maintenance and reliability.

Four steps for aligning maintenance goals with business goals

A handy four-step process will help you align the organization’s goals with your maintenance plans:

  1. Confirm the goals of your organization. Your business may be looking to accomplish something really specific, like decreasing the cost-per-item. Or the goal might be a little less tangible, like entering new markets.
  2. Link maintenance KPIs to business goals. If reducing the cost-per-item is the big goal, maintenance could focus on reducing downtime and maintenance costs. If entering new markets is the target, you might want to standardize maintenance processes so they can be repeated at other sites.
  3. Choose your maintenance metrics. Set up metrics and benchmarks so you can track progress and measure success. For example, if you want to prevent unplanned downtime, you might track faults found and fixed through PMs on critical equipment.
  4. Plan maintenance activities to hit your targets. Let’s say your aim is to find problems with critical equipment before they cause failure. In this scenario, you have to figure out what your critical equipment is, how often it should be inspected, and what needs to be included in work orders for those assets.

How to get really good at maintenance scheduling

“Some people think a lot of scheduled maintenance is good and more is better,” says Charles.

“Those people are wrong. Doing PMs for the sake of filling a quota is costly and often increases the chance of breakdowns.”

The number of failed inspections per PM is the true mark of scheduled maintenance success, says Charles. Every problem you catch during a PM is an asset failure avoided.

And that’s the secret to really good maintenance scheduling: The constant tweaking of PM frequencies to find the right balance between too often and not often enough.

How to optimize preventive maintenance frequencies

The PDCA model (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is a framework for finding the right PM schedule over time:

  1. Plan: Create a baseline for PM frequencies by looking at recommended guidelines, repair history, criticality, and usage patterns for an asset.
  2. Do: Follow your plan consistently for accurate results.
  3. Check: Look at failure metrics for each asset to determine if your plan is working.
  4. Act: Fine-tune your PM frequencies based on your findings. Increase the frequency if an asset is breaking down between PMs. Reduce the frequency if your PMs don’t find failures or if the number of breakdowns between PMs is low.

Warning: This process is not quick. It takes a while to go around this cycle and implement improvements. But you will see improvements, including longer MTBF intervals, fewer labor hours, and fewer costs for spare parts and supplies.

How to convince people that maintenance needs to be done

“We would fight operations just to get a little bit of maintenance on a machine,” says Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix, remembering his time as a maintenance manager.

Although the tension between maintenance and operations isn’t going anywhere, a maintenance plan and maintenance schedule can’t reach its full potential without buy-in from production.

“This is where maintenance departments usually fail because they don’t have data to back up their asks,” says Charles.

“You have to be able to prove your case and show evidence that if you don’t do maintenance on schedule, there will be much worse consequences at some point—probably sooner than later.”

Creating a culture that chooses preventive maintenance over reactive maintenance doesn’t happen in a day. It can take years and a lot of conversations with everyone from CEOs to operators for it to stick.

Scheduling around seasonality and sudden production changes

In a perfect world, plans would never change and your maintenance schedule would run like clockwork. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The holiday season can lead to a huge spike in orders. A global recession could completely dry up demand.

When things shift at your company, your maintenance must shift too. One way to stay flexible is with your maintenance schedule. This doesn’t mean abandoning all the plans you’ve put in place. Actually, it’s the opposite, says Charles.

“This is when it’s super critical to understand your asset criticality and asset priorities,” says Charles.

Knowing the needs of each critical asset is what helps you create schedules and justify maintenance windows required to ensure healthy equipment.

“It also becomes very critical to understand how assets need to be shut down and started back up so that they function as best they can in those situations,” explains Charles.

Plan work orders that cover all the nuances of each equipment and each task. Build airtight SOPs with this information so delays don’t make stopping and starting equipment even harder.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Having crystal clear goals for your work orders will give you a clear direction for all your decisions around maintenance planning and scheduling.
  2. Never set your maintenance schedules in stone and always keep looking for ways to optimize each work order so you’re doing it at the right frequencies.
  3. Your work order plans and schedule won’t always be popular with everyone, but having proof that they work will help you justify your strategy and allow you to follow through with it.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/maintenance-planning-and-scheduling-best-practices/