The Evolution of the Maintenance Industry

Maintenance has evolved a lot in the last 50 years. The tools, technology, processes, and people who make up this industry have also changed. As a profession, maintenance is made up of a diverse group of people that don’t just fix things, but who plan, purchase, design, analyze, and optimize. This includes technicians and maintenance managers, but also engineers, planners, and even IT personnel. In world-class companies, maintenance is an integral part of business operations contributing positively to an organization’s overall growth and profitability. But it wasn’t always this way.

In this article, we walk through the evolution of maintenance from a do-as-needed profession to a critical role in every facility, plant, and organization.

The journey to modern maintenance

In the journal of Hazardous Materials, N.S. Arunraj and J Maiti documented how maintenance has changed from World War II to the present day. In the article, it was clear that each generation saw an increase in production demands and needed their equipment to be reliable. The increased production made companies more profitable, and to ensure they continued to bring in revenue, they needed to make sure their equipment was reliable. This focus on reliability led to improvements in their maintenance strategy.

As part of this improvement, the techniques for performing maintenance have significantly changed. In the early days of maintenance, work was mostly reactive—teams fixed breakdowns only when they occurred. In the decades since, maintenance has embraced a proactive approach with the goal of preventing unplanned downtime of any sort before it happens.

Maintenance over the years

See how digital transformation has shaped the evolution of maintenance

Improvements in maintenance practices

To make the shift to world-class maintenance, each generation needed to improve how, when, and what type of maintenance was needed. The first thing to change was adding planned preventative maintenance to the first maintenance generation. This was a good start, but there was little way to predict what equipment would break and when, so a system needed to be created for planning and controlling work.

In the second and third generations, new technology and developments in failure theory helped to put the focus on predictive maintenance. This type of maintenance is part of the same family as preventive maintenance. However, predictive maintenance uses condition-monitoring tools and techniques and asset information to track real-time and historical equipment performance so you can anticipate failure before it happens. Since predictive maintenance aims to give you an ideal window for proactive maintenance tasks, it can help minimize the time equipment is being maintained, the production hours lost to maintenance, and the cost of spare parts and supplies.

These new maintenance practices changed the way maintenance was done. The most dominant of these was reliability centered maintenance, which provides a structure for determining what maintenance activities should be done and when. It works by identifying the functions of the company that are most critical and then seeking to optimize maintenance strategies to minimize system failures and increase equipment reliability and availability. With this maintenance strategy, possible failure modes and their consequences are identified, all while the function of the equipment is considered.

Most recently, the maintenance industry has begun to consider the total cost of asset ownership. Ideas such as evidence based asset managementrisk-based maintenance, and total productive maintenance, have contributed to this. There has also been a big push toward adopting new technologies. The gradual adoption of maintenance management software and artificial intelligence have shown to be useful in improving and predicting a facility’s maintenance strategy.

Check out our guide for choosing the right preventive maintenance software

Achieving world-class maintenance practice

Unfortunately for many companies, the fact is their maintenance is still seen as a necessary evil. For those companies, their maintenance has not stayed in touch with world-class maintenance practices. To progress, one of the first steps is to change the corporate culture so that maintenance is a cooperative partnership that can significantly contribute to profitability and customer satisfaction.

The maintenance department itself will have to up-skill and adopt new practices before the corporate culture changes to view maintenance as the important business function that it is. For the maintenance department, up-skilling will mean new techniques are learned to predict and prevent equipment failures. The new practices will include a more involved relationship with the production and management teams as well as adopting software tools that will facilitate a world-class maintenance practice.

source: https://fiixsoftware.com/blog/evolution-maintenance-practice/

CMMS software vs. maintenance excel spreadsheets

Companies taking their first steps toward preventive maintenance often start with homemade maintenance spreadsheets. A maintenance spreadsheet lets you log work orders, document upcoming maintenance cycles, and use filters to manipulate the data and produce lists of work completed. The issue is, spreadsheets don’t talk to each other and can’t send notifications to technicians in the field. This means that maintenance managers and technicians must rely on other systems like email, phone, pagers, offline trackers, or even sticky notes to get a full picture of the work that needs to be done.

While they add more value than just pen and paper, spreadsheets have obvious limitations.

On the other hand, maintenance software like computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) lets facility managers, technicians, and customers track the maintenance status of their assets and the associated costs of that work in one system.

CMMS vs. maintenance Excel spreadsheets

A CMMS and maintenance excel spreadsheets share some basic similarities but are used differently. Below is a table that illustrates some of the differences:

 CMMSExcel
DefinitionA CMMS automates the collection and analysis of data to optimize maintenance operationsMaintenance spreadsheets log work orders and document upcoming maintenance
Used toManage preventive maintenance activitiesManipulate data and produce lists of completed work
DisadvantagesIt may be more difficult to customizeIt may be susceptible to cyber attacksLimited access that lives on personal drivesUsually leads to a physical paper trail

Nine advantages of a CMMS over a maintenance spreadsheet

1. Automated preventive maintenance triggers.

Preventive maintenance software helps reduce human error by ensuring PMs are triggered when they are due in compliance with regulatory or manufacturer requirements. A good CMMS system can also activate PMs based on a number of maintenance triggers including time, meter, and event.

2. Auditing and compliance.

A CMMS digitizes your paper trail. Work orders are documented electronically as you go, even if you are working offline. This simplifies things in case of an audit.

3. Analysis and reporting.

A CMMS will report on maintenance key performance indicators (KPIs) such as MTBFMTTF, and availability with little effort. KPIs are used to evaluate current operations’ effectiveness, make organizational and personnel decisions, and determine whether assets need to be repaired or replaced. Built-in reports enable you to refine maintenance processes and improve asset availability, ultimately improving your bottom line.

4. Access.

Maintenance spreadsheets live on a personal drive on a desktop computer, with limited access. With a cloud-based CMMS, the data is stored on a remote server and can be accessed from anywhere over the internet. Most modern CMMS software also comes with a mobile app so you can access your CMMS via your phone or tablet in the field.

5. Centralization.

Plan, control, forecast, measure performance, evaluate, and report all from one system.

6. Real-time information.

See your organization’s maintenance activities in real-time. Managers can see which assets are offline, who is working on what, and what still needs to be done.

7. Communication.

Work requests submitted into the system can instantly be sent to the correct people. Technicians receive notifications automatically so they know what work is due.

8. Centralized database.

Your CMMS is a database of all equipment information, documents, manuals, schematics and images, and materials. No need for your technicians to carry around bulky schematics or manuals. Over time, this becomes a repository for historical data on your assets, giving you a fuller picture of an asset’s performance.

9. Supply chain management.

A CMMS will automatically track parts inventory, manage suppliers and vendors effortlessly and help you keep inventory costs optimized. When parts are consumed during work orders, the CMMS depletes stock levels in real-time. There’s no need to go back to the desk and update those stock cards. If the stock falls below minimum levels, the system will notify the required users or suppliers to start the reordering process.

Spreadsheets might be cheaper in the short term, but a CMMS will save you costs in the long run

While a maintenance spreadsheet is the cheaper option in the short term, it’s inflexible and doesn’t react to what is going on in your facility. Its ability to minimize the costs associated with downtime, stocking parts, and management reporting time is low, at best.

A CMMS streamlines and automates all of this, and many solutions can be customized to suit your maintenance processes, no matter the size of your organization. Any business can effectively deploy a CMMS in any market sector for efficient asset management.

Source: https://fiixsoftware.com/blog/cmms-spreadsheets/

How to use data to answer five big questions about your maintenance team’s performance

Maintenance involves a lot of moving parts, which means more chances for something to go wrong. And when problems arise, you want to tackle them with as much information as possible. In other words, you want problem-solving to be predictable. Data is a key ingredient in achieving this goal.

We look at 5 ways to use data to solve common maintenance issues and lead your team to success.

Future of analytics and data

This article walks you through what data to use and how to use it. While you can follow along if your data is in spreadsheets or file cabinets, we’re using the Fiix analytics tool to illustrate the process. Fiix analytics is visual and interactive so you can get a clear view of how to drill into your data and find the answers to your biggest questions.

1. How do I make sure the right maintenance is being done at the right time?

The average facility manages 45 work orders a week. With so much to do (and so little time to do it in), you know how important it is to focus your team’s efforts in the right place. So, this question really has three sub-questions—am I doing too much maintenance, not enough maintenance, or the right amount of maintenance on an asset?

The first step to answering these questions is to identify the assets with lots of work orders associated with them. Then, filter these work orders by asset and maintenance type.

First, look for assets with few or no corrective work orders associated with them. This means you’re probably doing PMs too frequently on these assets and can cut the frequency of scheduled maintenance.

Active work orders by type

Assets with not enough preventive maintenance will have lots of emergency work associated with them. Also, look for assets with lower maintenance costs compared to assets of a similar type as that is often a sign that they aren’t getting enough maintenance. Increase the frequency of PMs on these assets.

The right amount of maintenance shows frequent and corrective work orders associated with assets.

2. How is maintenance affecting the performance of equipment?

To get a picture of how maintenance is impacting equipment performance, start by collecting information on assets with associated downtime. Next, filter those assets into two categories – planned and unplanned downtime. Rank those assets by unplanned downtime. Assets with more unplanned downtime are the ones you want to tackle first as they have the biggest negative impact on your company and the most opportunity for improvement. You can further filter those assets by maintenance costs associated with them. The assets with the most downtime and highest costs are where to begin adjusting your strategy.

The next step is to dive into the notes on the emergency work orders attached to those assets. Find out what the most common problems and causes were, and make changes to address them. For example, has a bearing continually failed because of improper lubrication? A simple change might be to increase the frequency of lubrication and specify the proper amount of lubrication needed in each instance.

Revisit this report to see if your adjustments have made a difference. If unplanned downtime and maintenance costs drop across 30, 60, and 90 days, you now have data to support your decisions and show how they impact production.

Filter visualization

3. How can my facility organize our storeroom so parts are easily accessible?

An unorganized storeroom can pose more problems than just being messy. It makes it hard for technicians to access parts when they need them most leading to delays and potential breakdowns.

To tackle this problem head-on, collect data on assets with the most emergency work orders attached to them.

Take note of what parts are associated most with that emergency work and the equipment they’re needed for. Once that has been determined, you can kit those parts together. Parts kitting makes getting parts easier and more accessible when emergency work is triggered.

For this to work in the first place, this data needs to be tracked and updated frequently. Each time a tech reaches for a spare part, that data should be updated. It gives you an accurate sign of which parts are used frequently and how often they are attached to reactive work.

4. Where should I be allocating my maintenance budget?

Figuring out where to spend your maintenance budget can be a headache and can be even harder to justify that spending.

Let’s say that increasing your team’s headcount would help clear some of the facility’s backlogged maintenance. That decision comes down to two factors— do I hire more in-house employees or more contractors? That big budget consideration is hard to justify without proof.

To begin making your case, collect all the information you can about work done in the last quarter to a year. Was it done mostly by internal employees or contractors?

By looking at each category, add up the total spend associated with each. Take into account costs like employee salary and benefits, contractor’s hourly pay, and training. Each has its cost benefits and disadvantages.

Based on those costs, you can make a pretty clear case to your department, based on dollar value, if it’s more cost-effective to hire internal employees or more contractors. Those stats can help justify why spending on additional hires is necessary.

5. What obstacles are our technicians facing?

It’s easy for technicians to get caught up in their workload when things get busy. Completion notes aren’t updated or information is missed on work orders. It may not seem like a big deal the first time, but once it becomes a habit, it can become an obstacle for other technicians.

As a maintenance manager, you can help enforce the importance of having complete information. One of the ways you can tackle this obstacle is by conducting bi-weekly checks to find work orders with missing information or incomplete notes.

Look for trends in those work orders. Was it done by the same technician? Is it the same type of information being missed? Consider looking at the type of maintenance associated with these work orders. Consider having a department-wide info session on the importance and benefit of filling out work order completion notes.

If it’s the same technician, take a look at their logged hours. If they are doing more hours than the average, it might mean they are simply logging too many hours and might be overworked.

Trend visualization

Making it a habit to check for these inconsistencies on a regular basis might make a big difference in the performance of your employees and your facility.

Seeing the bigger picture leads to bigger gains

Your facility has lots of moving parts and keeping track of them all manually can be time-consuming. Using an analytics reporting tool provides a visual representation of your facility’s moving parts. In addition, it gives the power back to the maintenance department, allowing them to tackle problems as they arise and lead their team to solution-oriented work culture.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/5-ways-data-help-answer-maintenance-questions/

6 Types of Maintenance Troubleshooting Techniques

Maintenance troubleshooting can be both an art and a science. A common problem is that, while art can be beautiful, it isn’t known for its efficiency. When taken to the next level, maintenance troubleshooting can ditch the trial-and-error moniker and become a purely scientific endeavor. This helps maintenance technicians find the right problems and solutions more quickly. When troubleshooting is done correctly, your whole maintenance operation can overcome backlog, lost production, and compliance issues much more efficiently.

In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll take a look at what it actually is, why it matters to maintenance professionals, and how your team can fine-tune its approach.

What is maintenance troubleshooting?

Systems break down—that’s just a fact of life. Whether it’s a conveyer belt or an industrial drill, we’ve all run across a piece of equipment that is unresponsive, faulty, or acting abnormally for seemingly no reason at all. It can be downright frustrating.

Maintenance troubleshooting is the process of identifying what is wrong with these faulty components and systems when the problem is not immediately obvious. Maintenance troubleshooting usually follows a systematic, four-step approach; identify the problem, plan a response, test the solution, and resolve the problem. Steps one to three are often repeated multiple times before a resolution is reached.

Identify the problem

Identify the problem

Plan a response

Plan a response

 Test the solution

Test the solution

 Repeat until problem is solved

Repeat until problem is resolved

Think about it this way: When a conveyor belt breaks down, you may try a few different methods to fix it. First, you identify which part of the conveyor belt isn’t working. Once you’ve identified the problem area, you plan a response and test it, such as realigning or lubricating a part. If this fails to fix the problem, you might replace the part, which makes the conveyor belt work again. This is troubleshooting.

How is maintenance troubleshooting usually done?

Stop us if you’ve heard this story before. An asset breaks down and no one knows why. You talk to the operator, read some manuals, and check your notes about the asset. You try a couple of things to get the machine up and working again with no luck. Before you can try a third or fourth possible solution, you get called away to another emergency, with the asset still out of commission.

This is often how the process happens when performing maintenance troubleshooting, especially when a facility relies on paper records or Excel spreadsheets. The process is based on collecting as much information as possible from as many sources as possible to identify the most likely cause of the unexpected breakdown. You can never go wrong when you gather information, but it’s the way that information is gathered that can turn troubleshooting from a necessity to a nightmare.

Why does maintenance troubleshooting matter?

Unexpected equipment failure is the entire reason maintenance troubleshooting exists. If assets never broke down without any clear signs of imminent failure, there would be no need to troubleshoot the problem. But we know that’s just not the case.

Machinery failure doesn’t always follow a predictable pattern. Yes, maintenance teams can use preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance to reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime. However, you can never eliminate it entirely. What you can do is put processes in place to reduce failure as much as possible and fix it as soon as possible when it does occur. This is where strong maintenance troubleshooting techniques come in handy.

Because troubleshooting will always be part of the maintenance equation, humans will also always have a role. Maintenance technology does not erase the need for a human touch in troubleshooting; it simply makes the process much more efficient. When troubleshooting isn’t refined, it could lead to time wasted tracking down information, a substantial loss of production, an unsafe working environment, and more frequent failures. In short, knowing some maintenance troubleshooting techniques could be the difference between an overwhelming backlog and a stable maintenance program.

Maintenance troubleshooting tips

The following are just a few ways your operation can improve its troubleshooting techniques to conquer chaos and take control of its maintenance.

1. Quantify asset performance and understand how to use the results

It probably goes without saying, but the more deeply you know an asset, the better equipped you’ll be to diagnose a problem. Years of working with a certain asset can help you recognize when it’s not working quite right. But exceptional troubleshooting isn’t just about knowing the normal sounds, speeds, or odours of a particular machine. Instead, it’s about knowing how to analyze asset performance at a deeper level, which is where advanced reporting factors in.

When operators and technicians rely solely on their own past experience with a piece of equipment, it leaves them with huge gaps in knowledge that hurt the maintenance troubleshooting process. For example, it leaves too much room for recency bias to affect decision-making, which means that technicians are most likely to try the last thing that fixed a particular problem without considering other options or delving further into the root cause. Also, if maintenance troubleshooting relies on the proprietary knowledge of a few technicians, it means repairs will have to wait until those particular maintenance personnel are available.

Maintenance staff should have the know-how to conduct an in-depth analysis of an asset’s performance. For example, technicians should understand how to run reports and understand KPIs for critical equipment, such as mean time between failure and overall equipment effectiveness. If using condition-based maintenance, the maintenance team should also know the P-F curve for each asset and what different sensor readings mean. When technicians are equipped with a deeper understanding of an asset, it will be easier for them to pinpoint where a problem occurred and how to fix it, both in the short and long-term.

P-F curve chart

2. Create in-depth asset histories

Information is the fuel that powers exceptional maintenance troubleshooting for maintenance. Knowing how a particular asset has worked and failed for hundreds of others is a good place to start a repair. That’s why manuals are a useful tool when implementing troubleshooting maintenance techniques. However, each asset, facility, and operation is different, which means asset machine failure doesn’t always follow the script. Detailed notes on an asset’s history can open up a dead end and lead you to a solution much more quickly.

A detailed asset history can give you an edge in maintenance troubleshooting in a variety of ways. It offers a simple method for cross-referencing symptoms of the current issue with elements of past problems. For example, a technician can see if a certain type of material was being handled by a machine or if there were any early warning signs identified for a previous failure. The more a present situation aligns with a past scenario, the more likely it is to need the same fix. Solutions can be prioritized this way, leading to fewer misses, less downtime, fewer unnecessary spare parts being used, and more.

When troubleshooting is done correctly, your whole maintenance operation can overcome backlog, lost production, and compliance issues much more efficiently.

When creating detailed asset histories to help with maintenance troubleshooting (as well as preventive maintenance), it’s important to include as much information as possible. Make sure to record the time and dates of any notable actions taken on an asset or piece of equipment. This can include breakdowns, PMs, inspections, part replacement, production schedules, and abnormal behavior, such as smoke or unusual sounds. Next, document the steps taken during maintenance, including PMs or repairs. Lastly, highlight the successful solution and what was needed to accomplish it, such as necessary parts, labor and safety equipment. Make sure to add any relevant metrics and reports to the asset history as well.

One way to capture all this information in one place is to create a well-built equipment maintenance log, like this one:

Equipment maintenance log template

3. Use root cause analysis and failure codes

Effective maintenance troubleshooting starts with eliminating ambiguity and short-term solutions. Finding the root of an issue quickly, solving it effectively and ensuring it stays solved is a winning formula. Root cause analysis and failure codes are a couple of tools that will help you achieve this goal.

Root cause analysis is a maintenance troubleshooting technique that allows you to pinpoint the reason behind a failure. The method consists of asking “why” until you get to the heart of the problem. For example:

  1. Why did the equipment fail?: Because a bearing wore out
  2. Why did the bearing wear out?: Because a coupling was misaligned
  3. Why was the coupling misaligned?: Because it was not serviced recently.
  4. Why was the coupling not serviced?: Because maintenance was not scheduled.
  5. Why was maintenance not scheduled?: Because we weren’t sure how often it should be scheduled.

This process has two benefits when conducting maintenance troubleshooting for maintenance. First, it allows you to identify the immediate cause of failure and fix it quickly. Second, it leads you to the core of the issue and a long-term solution. In the example above, it’s clear a better preventive maintenance program is required to improve asset management and reduce unplanned downtime.

Failure codes provide a consistent method to describe why an asset failed. Failure codes are built on three actions: Listing all possible problems, all possible causes, and all possible solutions. This process records key aspects of a failure according to predefined categories, like misalignment or corrosion.

Failure codes are useful when maintenance troubleshooting because technicians can immediately see common failure codes, determine the best solution, and implement it quickly. Failure codes can also be used to uncover a common problem among a group of assets and determine a long-term solution.

Failure code flow chart example

4. Build detailed task lists

Exceptional maintenance troubleshooting requires solid planning and foresight. Clear processes provide a blueprint for technicians so they can quickly identify problems and implement more effective solutions. Creating detailed task lists is one way to bolster your planning and avoid headaches down the road. This could also be incorporated into routine maintenance.

A task list outlines a series of tasks that need to be completed to finish a larger job. They ensure crucial steps aren’t missed when performing inspections, audits or PMs. For example, the larger job may be conducting a routine inspection of your facility’s defibrillators. This job is broken down into a list of smaller tasks, such as “Verify battery installation,” and “Inspect exterior components for cracks.”

Maintenance technology does not erase the need for a human touch in troubleshooting; it simply makes the process much more efficient.

Detailed task lists are extremely important when conducting maintenance troubleshooting. They act as a guide when testing possible solutions so technicians can either fix the issue or disqualify a diagnosis as quickly as possible. The more explicit the task list, the more thorough the job and the less likely a technician is to make a mistake. Comprehensive task lists can also offer valuable data when failure occurs. They provide insight into the type of work recently done on an asset so you can determine whether any corrective actions were missed and if this was the source of the problem.

There are a few best practices for building detailed task lists. First, include all individual actions that make up a task. For example, instead of instructing someone to “Inspect the cooling fan,” include the steps that comprise that inspection, such as “Check for any visible cracks,” and “Inspect for loose parts.” Organize all steps in the order they should be done. Lastly, include any additional information that may be helpful in completing the tasks, including necessary supplies, resources (ie. manuals), and PPE.

Example of a preventive maintenance checklist

5. Make additional information accessible

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; great maintenance troubleshooting techniques are often the result of great information. However, if that information is difficult to access, you will lose any advantage it provides. That is why it is crucial for your operation to not only create a large resource center, but to also make it highly accessible. This will elevate your maintenance troubleshooting abilities and get your assets back online faster when unplanned downtime occurs.

Let’s start with the elements of a great information hub. We’ve talked about the importance of reports, asset histories, failure codes and task lists when performing a troubleshooting method. Some other key resources include diagrams, standard operating procedures (SOPs), training videos, and manuals. These should all be included and organized by asset. If a technician hits a dead-end a troubleshooting procedure, these tools can offer a solution that may have been missed in the initial analysis.

Key types of asset information

Now that you’ve gathered all your documents together, it’s time to make them easily accessible to the whole maintenance team. If resources are trapped in a file cabinet, on a spreadsheet, or in a single person’s mind, they don’t do a lot of good for the technician. They can be lost, misplaced and hard to find—not to mention the inefficiency involved with needing to walk from an asset to the office just to grab a manual. One way to get around this obstacle is to create a digital knowledge hub with maintenance software. By making all your resources available through a mobile device, technicians can access any tool they need to troubleshoot a problem. Instead of sifting through paper files to find an asset history or diagram, they can access that same information anywhere, anytime.

Using CMMS software for maintenance troubleshooting

If it sounds like a lot of work to gather, organize, analyze and circulate all the information needed to be successful at maintenance troubleshooting, you’re not wrong. Without the proper tools, this process can be a heavy lift for overwhelmed maintenance teams. Maintenance software is one tool that can help ease the load every step of the way. A digital platform, such as a CMMS, takes care of crunching the numbers, organizing data and making it available wherever and whenever, so you can focus on using that information to make great decisions and troubleshoot more effectively.

For example, when building a detailed asset history, it’s important to document every encounter with a piece of equipment. This is a lot of work for a technician rushing from one job to another and difficult to keep track of after the fact. An investment in maintenance software will help you navigate these roadblocks. It does this by allowing technicians to use a predetermined set of questions to make and retrieve notes in real-time with a few clicks.

The same goes for failure codes. The key to using them effectively is proper organization and accessibility. Without those two key ingredients, failure codes become more of a hindrance than a help. One way to accomplish this is to use maintenance software. A digital platform can organize failure codes better than any filing cabinet or Excel spreadsheet and make it easy for technicians to quickly sort them and identify the relevant ones from the site of the breakdown.

The bottom line

Troubleshooting will always exist in maintenance. You will never be 100 percent sure 100 percent of the time when diagnosing the cause of failure. What you can do is take steps to utilize maintenance troubleshooting techniques to ensure equipment is repaired quickly and effectively. By combining a good understanding of maintenance metrics with detailed asset histories, failure codes, task lists, and other asset resources, and making all this information accessible, you can move your troubleshooting beyond trial and error to a more systematic approach.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/6-types-of-maintenance-troubleshooting-techniques/

Preventive maintenance program: An eight-step guide for building a PM plan

Want to build a great preventive maintenance program, but don’t know where to start? Here are 8 tips to set you up for success.

What is a preventive maintenance program?

A preventive maintenance program is a series of processes, guidelines, and tools for conducting regular and routine maintenance on equipment and assets to keep them in good condition so as to avoid failure and costly unplanned downtime.

Preventive maintenance and planning fit together perfectly, just like salt and pepper, Batman and Robin, and movies and popcorn. That’s because in order for a preventive maintenance program to succeed, it requires a solid blueprint.

For facilities looking to break out of a reactive maintenance rut, a preventive maintenance plan can do wonders. Having a roadmap to preventive maintenance allows your operation to conquer unplanned downtime while staving off the temptation to fall back into a reactive approach.

A PM plan makes everything clearer so the path to reliability is obstacle-free. Goals and responsibilities are defined, timelines are understood and necessary resources are accounted for. Everyone knows what success looks like and how to sustain it.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is proactive maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment in working condition to prevent unplanned failure or breakdown maintenance. Preventive maintenance is triggered for an asset based on time or usage. For example, if an asset has operated for 100 hours, a preventive maintenance work order will be automatically triggered. The goal is to increase asset reliability, reduce downtime and maximize the impact of costs and labor.

For facilities looking to break out of a reactive maintenance rut, a preventive maintenance plan can do wonders. Having a roadmap allows your operation to conquer unplanned downtime while staving off the temptation to fall back into a reactive approach.

Transitioning from predominantly reactive maintenance activity to a mostly preventive one takes time, dedication, resources and, most importantly, a plan. Achieving a successful preventive maintenance program means creating a preventive maintenance schedule and sticking to it. It means a reduction in unplanned downtime, backlog, miscommunication, accidents and the corrective maintenance costs associated with each. At the end of the day, preventive maintenance will help you conquer inefficiency and improve your maintenance program from top to bottom.

What should a preventive maintenance plan include?

A preventive maintenance plan should include eight steps at its foundation:

  1. Establish and prioritize goals
  2. Create and measure KPIs
  3. Get stakeholder buy-in
  4. Use the right technology/software
  5. Set up PM triggers
  6. Train maintenance workers on how to implement the preventive maintenance plan
  7. Build a preventive maintenance checklist
  8. Fine-tune your plan based on results

We’ll take you through each step in detail.

Eight steps to building preventive maintenance program

How to create a preventive maintenance program in eight steps

Each and every facility is different, with different goals, assets and resources. That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a preventive maintenance program. However, by using these eight important elements, you can build an effective blueprint for success. Following this template for a preventive maintenance plan will go a long way to making your operation more efficient and sustainable.

1. Establish and prioritize goals

The first step in building a successful preventive maintenance program is to sit down and lay out what you want to achieve. Every facility has different goals and those goals influence all future decisions. Do you want to reduce downtime? Increase reliability? Cut costs? Think about the reasons for wanting to create a structured PM program and write them down.

Next, it’s time to prioritize your goals. Let’s face it, you’re always busy, and implementing a preventive maintenance plan is another huge project to add to your to-do list. With everything that’s going on, it’s nearly impossible to go full steam ahead on all your goals. By prioritizing, you know where to focus your attention and resources first when establishing a blueprint for preventive maintenance. When those tasks are firmly underway, you can begin the next step in your plan.

2. Create KPIs and commit to measuring them

Now that your goals are organized, it’s important to attach numbers to them. It’s hard to know if a preventive maintenance program is working without establishing concrete targets. There are a variety of maintenance metrics out there that your operation can use to measure your performance. Some common ones are scheduled maintenance critical percentplanned maintenance percentagepreventive maintenance complianceoverall equipment effectiveness, and mean time between failure. Preventive maintenance software like a computerized maintenance management system will be able to help you calculate these metrics with ease.

Once you know which KPIs you’ll be using to define the success, the next step is to create a framework for consistently measuring these metrics. Stats are only valuable if you are consistently using them to improve the preventive maintenance plan. It’s crucial to build processes and procedures that ensure data is collected, analyzed, understood and actioned on a regular basis. This way, you will know if you are meeting your goals and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

3. Obtain buy-in from stakeholders

It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put into your preventive maintenance program if you don’t have your entire team on board. Total buy-in is crucial as an effective PM strategy requires everyone to chip in, from a maintenance manager or technician who must input data to a reliability engineer who reads that data and makes decisions based on it. What seem like small details add up to make a big difference. That’s why establishing the concept of total productive maintenance is so important to creating a strategy that works.

Getting buy-in from all stakeholders for a preventive maintenance plan includes having discussions about goals, skill sets, needs, resources and more with each member of the team. This will give you a holistic view of how an increase in scheduled maintenance will affect each person and the team, how people might react to change and what is necessary to execute your strategy with fewer snags.

TPM_pyramid

4. Leverage the right technology

Technology is one of the most important ingredients for an effective PM strategy. Leveraging a digital solution allows you to efficiently arrange all the smaller preventive maintenance tasks required for your facility to embrace a PM mindset, such as scheduling, inventory maintenance management, reporting and organizing work orders. If your facility operates on a legacy system, such as pen and paper or Excel, now is the time to plan for a transition to a digital solution.

There are several factors that must be considered when choosing the right technology for a preventive maintenance program, including the skillset of your team, budget, asset capabilities, team preference, data security and more. One of the most important things to remember when looking for preventive maintenance technology, such as a CMMS, is ease of use. If a system is too hard to understand and use properly, it will not be used effectively and all the time and money invested in the solution will be for naught.

5. Make sure your PM triggers are accurate

Because all effective PMs are built on accurate triggers, this is a crucial step in building a preventive maintenance plan. Matching maintenance tasks with the right trigger will help your operation flow efficiently and will ensure assets are as reliable as possible. These triggers should also be known by all members of the maintenance team so no maintenance task falls through the cracks. Automated scheduling and mobile notifications are two tools that make this simple to do.

It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put into your preventive maintenance program if you don’t have your entire team on board. Total buy-in is crucial as an effective PM strategy requires everyone to chip in, from technicians to reliability engineers.

When defining a preventive maintenance trigger for an asset, it’s important to look at a few variables. This includes the manufacturers recommended guidelines, the performance history of the asset, how critical the asset is to production, the cost of repair vs. maintenance and the projected future use of the asset. When you take all these elements into account, you should have a good idea of when to trigger maintenance for a particular piece of equipment. This number should be fine-tuned moving forward to optimize your preventive maintenance.

6. Train and implement

At this point in your quest for an effective preventive maintenance program, you probably know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Your team, on the other hand, probably does not. It’s important to remember this and create a training strategy so everyone can get up to speed on proper equipment maintenance. Team members should be trained on any new technology as well as any processes and procedures that come with a shift to preventive maintenance, such as prioritizing work orders, creating failure codes, and accessing documents digitally.

The obvious next step is to implement your preventive maintenance plan. If preventive maintenance is something completely new for your team, you might consider a pilot program at one site, one section of your facility or a few particular assets. This way, you can help your team adjust to a new way of doing things while working out the kinks in your PM program.

7. Build a preventive maintenance checklist to analyze results

Once your preventive maintenance plan is in motion, it’s important to prioritize inspection and keep an eye on the numbers. It is essential to have a preventive maintenance checklist that helps you to consistently track KPIs, such as mean time to repair, planned maintenance percentage and mean time between failures. Analyzing these stats and comparing them to pre-plan numbers should give you a good idea of how your program is impacting the efficiency of your maintenance operation.

Check these metrics against the benchmarks you established when you were first building your preventive maintenance processes. This will help you identify where you are hitting your goals and where you aren’t so you can target issues in your program before they get out of hand. Take advantage of data capture tools to make tracking and analysis easy, quick and actionable. For example, there are many automated reporting templates you can use that are commonly available in maintenance management programs.

8. Fine-tune plan

This is one task you should never feel is complete. Your preventive maintenance program should always be under construction as you continually fine-tune, improve, fill in the gaps and fortify procedures that are working well. Use the data you capture through sensors, work order notes and digital reports to see where strengths and weaknesses lie. Uncover opportunities to improve and focus on embracing preventive maintenance wherever possible in your operation.

One crucial element in this phase is to include all stakeholders, such as technicians, operations, reliability engineers, etc., in the process of improvement. Digital profiles and forums for team members make it easy to schedule a time to get feedback, work through problems and review issues that have been flagged while you smooth out any wrinkles in your plan.

The bottom line on building a preventive maintenance program

Creating a successful, sustainable, and effective preventive maintenance program doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning, but it’s worth it when you achieve the many benefits. It’s important to build a sturdy strategy by identifying goals, creating proper KPIs and triggers, discussing the plan with stakeholders, leveraging the right technology and conducting training for regular maintenance. It takes consistent analysis and fine-tuning to ensure all your careful planning doesn’t go to waste. And just remember, a well-oiled preventive maintenance program is not an unattainable dream for maintenance operations; it’s a viable option for all. And once you have a solid program in place, there’s always room for growth, like expanding into predictive maintenance.

Read more: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/building-an-effective-preventive-maintenance-program/

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/