It’s about time you started taking care of your equipment. It’s not just about whether or not you’re working with the latest and greatest, it’s about making sure that what you have is up and running as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to find out that your equipment needs repair in the middle of a critical operation, or worse: when it breaks down completely. That can lead to lost time, money, and even injury.
But why does this happen?
A lot of facilities and maintenance managers find it challenging to manage their preventive maintenance programs without using spreadsheets—but spreadsheets can be time-consuming, get lost among other paperwork, or be downright frustrating.
Preventive maintenance (sometimes called preventative) software enables managers to schedule maintenance, send alerts to the right people when a job is due, and increase resource access and allocation. It also keeps equipment operating efficiently, increases the safety of employees, and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road. In this article, we will discuss preventive maintenance software, why its used, examples, and some important things to consider when implementing it at your organization.
What is preventive maintenance software (and who uses it)?
Preventive maintenance software is used to help schedule ongoing preventive maintenance work. It allows companies to be proactive about their maintenance, rather than reactive. It’s often used by maintenance and plant managers and other industrial and maintenance personnel. It’s used because it’s one of the best solutions to avoid unexpected repairs. By planning your preventive maintenance schedule, you can be proactive about the regular checkups that keep your equipment running smoothly.
Three steps to consider when choosing a preventive maintenance software
1. Understand at what level your organization manages preventive maintenance
Before choosing your preventive maintenance software it’s important to first understand at what level your organization manages preventive maintenance. If you have a large company with many different sites, it would be beneficial for you to use something like a CMMS. This will allow your sites and teams access to the same information and data.
Whereas, a good fit for a smaller organization may be a single-site solution. The next step to consider is how much money you want to spend or can spend on a solution. While there are programs that are low cost, and sometimes free, others may need more funding to run properly and improve your processes.
2. Assess your needs vs. your wants
When choosing the right preventive maintenance software, it’s important to first assess your wants and needs. This means reviewing your processes and seeing how they can be improved with the software. Think about what features the software has that can improve efficiencies for your team and maintenance process, and ask yourself:
What are my goals?
How much time do I have to dedicate to a project? (Consider if there’s already a system that needs improving)
What kind of data do I want to track? (Think about how many assets you have, and how many technicians and managers you employ)
3. Stick to the financial budget
Every maintenance team needs to stick to its financial budget, and choosing preventive maintenance software can be costly. When you’re making a decision consider the budget you have available and the structure of the business. This will help you determine the best solution. In addition, it’s important to keep future scenarios in mind, and financial forecast and plan for things like: business growth, new facilities, and economic downturns.
Types of preventive maintenance software
Preventive maintenance software comes in all shapes and sizes, from extremely specialized systems to giant platforms connecting maintenance to other business units. Below are the most common types of preventive maintenance software.
1. Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)
CMMS software and maintenance apps help maintenance teams keep detailed and centralized records of all assets, equipment, and completed work. A CMMS allows facilities to plan, track, and optimize work orders, inventory, and everything associated with maintenance.
A CMMS manages all the maintenance activities that take place during the operational part of an asset’s life. At the same time, this type of preventive maintenance software works as a productive part of a facility.
All CMMS preventive maintenance software can be divided into two groups: Cloud-based CMMS software and on-premise CMMS software.
2. Enterprise asset management (EAM)
EAM software provides a holistic view of an organization’s physical assets and infrastructure throughout its entire lifecycle, from design and procurement to operation, maintenance, disposal, and replacement. EAM systems record asset information, manage work orders, coordinate inventory purchasing and usage, organize labor, track contracts, measure costs, and spending, and calculate KPIs.
3. Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
Here’s how ERP software works: every company has different business units that make it function, like accounting, human resources, and maintenance. ERP software takes everything these different departments do and connects them, so the entire organization has the same processes and information.
Because there is one central place for all data, it means an accountant, a salesperson, a maintenance technician, and a CEO can all use the system for their day-to-day activities while relying on the same information to plan, assess, and complete those activities. By collecting transactional data from multiple sources, ERP systems eliminate data duplication, offer data integrity, and provide a single source of truth.
While it’s not exactly maintenance software, ERP systems are part of the larger maintenance technology ecosystem. It’s important for maintenance technology to be able to integrate with an ERP system to help keep accurate inventory levels and keep your finance team in the loop. Many other preventive maintenance technologies are used in asset-heavy production and manufacturing facilities.
Steps to take when integrating preventive maintenance software at your organization
Integrating any type of new technology or software into an existing workplace can be challenging, but taking the right steps will make the process much easier for everyone involved in using the new technology. Here are the steps to follow when implementing a new preventive maintenance software:
Recognize that integration is a process, not an event. Integrating preventive maintenance software involves a lot of planning, and preparation, as well as addressing technical challenges that may occur prior to the implementation and cause risk, and a plan of action for when and if those challenges occur.
Plan at the right level. You will inevitably ask yourself if it makes sense to integrate this software with the existing systems or processes, but you need to plan ahead for the future as well. For example, if you’re integrating a CMMS for multiple facilities and warehouses, you can easily integrate them together from day one—rather than having two separate systems talking to each other through other means (like an email).
Recognize that acceptance of the new software won’t always be smooth. Read that again. It’s hard for managers to recognize that their team may not embrace the new software with open arms. You may face challenges and questions about the software, why it’s being used, and how exactly it’s going to save time and money. Be prepared to address these concerns and work with your team to get into the new processes. With time, your team will recognize how valuable software like a CMMS or ERP really is.
The right maintenance software can help your company save money and reduce downtime
By implementing preventive maintenance software your team can become more proactive about your maintenance. The first step is to assess where preventive maintenance occurs in your organization, and next, you need to review your current needs and wants so that when you find the right software for your organization there are no surprises.
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:
Establish and prioritize goals
Create and measure KPIs
Get stakeholder buy-in
Use the right technology/software
Set up PM triggers
Train maintenance workers on how to implement the preventive maintenance plan
Build a preventive maintenance checklist
Fine-tune your plan based on results
We’ll take you through each step in detail.
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.
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.
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.
There are very few modern processes that don’t benefit from a good checklist— basic car maintenance? Yep. Packing for a trip? For sure! Boiling an egg? Yes, even that. And the same goes for your preventive maintenance program.
A preventive maintenance checklist gets all the steps and information out of a manual and into the hands of experienced technicians by standardizing PMs in your CMMS.
This guide will lead you through how to create a preventive maintenance checklists to make your maintenance team more efficient, cost-effective, and safe.
What is a preventive maintenance checklist?
A preventive maintenance checklist is a set of tasks that the technician needs to complete in order to close a preventive maintenance work order.
A checklist gets all the steps and information out of a manual and into the hands of experienced technicians by standardizing PMs in your CMMS.
The purpose of a preventive maintenance checklist is to ensure preventive maintenance tasks are done correctly and in the same sequence of steps, regardless of which maintenance team member completes them.
Preventive maintenance checklists are known by several names, the most common being preventive maintenance task lists or task groups. There are two main types of preventive maintenance checklists: Pass-or-fail checklists and step-by-step checklists.
Examples of preventive maintenance checklists
Pass-or-fail preventive maintenance checklist
Many parts of a machine have an ideal condition. For example, a compressor has an ideal operating temperature. A pass-or-fail preventive maintenance checklist might include instructions to measure the actual temperature of the compressor and compare it to acceptable standards. The compressor can either meet this standard or not. It can pass or fail the test.
A pass-or-fail preventive maintenance checklists can identify problems and prevent bigger issues by scheduling maintenance sooner than usual. While these checklists can be done by maintenance personnel, they are usually the responsibility of machine operators. If a problem is identified during a pass-or-fail checklist, the follow-up tasks are assigned to a maintenance technician.
Example of a pass-or-fail preventive maintenance checklist
Record the strokes-per-minute at which Machine-X is running. Is the inlet temperature of Machine-X below 70°F? (Yes/Pass, No/Fail)
Record the outlet temperature of the product from Machine-X using the infrared temperature meter. Is the outlet temperature under 95°F? (Yes/Pass, No/Fail)
Notify maintenance/create a work request in your CMMS if you have marked “No/Fail” on any of the tasks above.
Step-by-step preventive maintenance checklist
There are also asset parts that require preventive maintenance based on the usage of that asset. For example, a motor might be changed every 500 hours. A step-by-step preventive maintenance checklist outlines instructions for changing the motor, from beginning to end. These checklists ensure no critical steps are missed during a PM so failure can be avoided as often as possible. These checklists usually include more complex and technical tasks, which is why they are normally assigned to or lead by maintenance technicians.
Example of a step-by-step checklist
Lockout from the main panel to complete the following preventive maintenance task
Test machine to ensure lockout is properly preventing the machine from running
Remove belting from conveyor
Replace both bearings on the non-drive side and inspect shaft for any damage
Install conveyor belting on the belt
Remove lockout/tagout and test conveyor at the following speeds: 5, 10, and 15 on VFD
Benefits of a preventive maintenance checklist
Members of your maintenance team can probably recite the steps to certain tasks off the top of their heads. But not everyone necessarily has the same information, especially if they’re new to the job. A formal preventive maintenance checklist puts this knowledge in the palm of your hand for easy access. Here’s how:
Tasks and outcomes are standardized
Checklists create a standard way to do preventive maintenance tasks and regular inspection, which leads to reliable outcomes. There’s no guesswork or miscommunication, reducing the chances of error and the need for costly repairs. For example, if you need to replace an engine, a good checklist will tell you what kind of engine, so you don’t use the wrong part. Reliability helps you plan better and helps mitigate the effects of turnover by ensuring there’s continuity in your processes, even if there isn’t continuity on your team. It makes training more effective, improves safety, and keeps you from relying too much on one person.
Work is more efficient and labor is maximized
Preventive maintenance checklists make is easier for technicians to complete PMs, which makes them quicker. This reduces downtime and allows technicians to move onto more skilled tasks in less time. Detailed checklists also free up time for technicians by allowing other members of the facility, like machine operators, to take on routine tasks. In this way, checklists are an integral part of establishing a great total productive maintenance program.
Troubleshooting and reporting are easier
Because preventive maintenance checklists provide consistency, they create a great baseline for measuring maintenance activity. This baseline helps you to report with more certainty and pinpoint whether a certain action did or did not lead to better results. When all tasks are done the same way, over and over again, it also eliminates the number of reasons why a problem might occur. By reducing the number of possible issues, it makes troubleshooting much easier.
7 steps to build an effective preventive maintenance checklist
Not all preventive maintenance checklists are created equal. Poorly constructed guidelines can be as problematic as having none at all. The good news is, you are likely halfway there when it comes to building great checklists. Your maintenance team has all the necessary information—the key is to gather that information and organize it into formal processes. There are seven things to keep in mind when you’re going through this process:
Focus on safety– Preventive maintenance checklists should start and end with safety instructions, like required PPE, lock-out tag-out instructions, and steps to sanitize the area.
Ensure it’s sequential– Preventive maintenance checklists should list tasks in the order they should be completed.
Follow the preventive maintenance framework– A PM checklist should follow this order of tasks when appropriate:
Example of a preventive maintenance checklist for machines:
Safety – Ensure that machinery is clear of debris before every shift.
Clean – Wipe machine surfaces of lubricant, dirt and other loose debris each day.
Adjust – Check for any parts that have loosened and tighten accordingly. Calibrate machines regularly.
Inspect – Regularly inspect tools for sharpness and proper functionality. Check for leaks, cracks, equipment failure, and safe electrical connections.
Replenish – Routinely check all machinery fluid levels, and air filters in the HVAC system, and replace as needed.
Replace – Check for any worn out parts or damaged tools and replace.
Rebuild – Rebuild any worn out or damaged parts that were custom built.
Include necessary detail– PM checklists should provide enough detail that new technicians can realistically complete the task by reading the checklist. Having too much detail can be confusing and difficult to change if needed.
Provide photos and/or diagrams– PM checklists should include visual representations of the instructions to make the task easier and clarify any ambiguity.
Be as concise as possible– Every task on a PM checklist should have a clear action and goal associated with it so you can ensure maximum efficiency.
Insert total time for the checklist or time requirements for each task– Make sure to give sufficient time for tasks so technicians don’t feel rushed.
Tips for using a preventive maintenance checklist
Now that you know how to create PM checklists, it’s time to decide who should take the lead when it comes to building them.“Best practice for creating checklists is to have it be a team effort between the maintenance manager, the maintenance planner, and the supervisor,” says Fiix solutions engineer Jason Afara.
Afara recommends having the maintenance planner write and plan checklists with input from the manager and supervisor as well as senior technicians. These experienced personnel have been working with the equipment for years and may be able to identify any gaps in checklists.
Because preventive maintenance checklists provide consistency, they create a great baseline for measuring maintenance activity. This baseline helps you to report with more certainty and pinpoint whether a certain action did or did not lead to better results.
The maintenance manager should be the one reviewing checklists and making sure they’re doing the job they’re supposed to be doing and that there are no instances of pencil-whipping occurring.
“You always want to be proactive to ensure your PMs are still relevant and leading to better maintenance,” says Afara.
“The best time to review checklists and make sure they’re still strong is during periods of high turnover, just before production spikes, or when an asset is consistently breaking down right after it’s been inspected.”
Building checklists for better maintenance
Preventive maintenance checklists are an essential part of an effective PM program and are included in preventive maintenance software. Checklists eliminate miscommunication and reduce the chance of human error. They make everyone’s life easier and allow your maintenance team to focus on tasks that optimize their skills and time. Creating checklists for each preventive maintenance task can easily be incorporated into a preventive maintenance schedule. It only takes a few simple steps and can yield tremendous benefits across your facility. So before you set out on the next leg of your maintenance journey, make sure you have well-built maintenance checklists to act as a compass on your way to higher efficiency, better spending, and a safer operation.
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:
Reduced resource usage: Efficient production systems produce the same number of goods with fewer resources
Higher financial margins: Efficient production means higher margins throughout the supply chain
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.