MRO Magazine

Equipment Restoration

Peter Philips   

Industry Machinery and Equipment Maintenance Manufacturing

Equipment restoration and how it relates to technical reliability.

Equipment restoration is one of the basic steps in World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and other improvement programs. Along with other WCM principles and pillars, equipment restoration and maintenance strategies are key components to equipment reliability. The big picture of WCM, TPM or other industrial performance initiatives are not being ignored here; focus will be given on equipment restoration and why we want to do it and how we get people engaged to participate year after year.

Generally speaking, restoration means to make new again. Many of us have restored an old piece of furniture or maybe even restored an old house or car. We painfully remove old paint, rotten wood, and rusted old parts in order to make the object like new again. When we are done the restoration, we are generally very proud of our accomplishment. If it went well, we are more likely to try it again and again.

Thinking about equipment at our facilities, there is no difference; the process is the same. Restore a piece of equipment so it will run without breakdown for as long as possible. Like our restored furniture, home, or car, it won’t stay that way long unless we continue to keep it in good shape. Keeping up with routine repair and maintenance is important, or the equipment will eventually fall back to its original unreliable state.


There needs to be a plan to maintain the restored piece of equipment, or the manpower and money spent will be lost because the reliability will be short lived. Replacing parts on equipment will certainly help reliability, but if they sit in substandard conditions they won’t last as long as expected.

For example, a new motor that becomes covered in production spillage will not last to its expected lifespan. The motor will run hot, which will cause it to fail prematurely. Maintaining like-new conditions becomes very important for long-term maintenance strategy.

So what’s the plan, and what’s the process that takes a piece of equipment to restoration? What will keep it like new? To start with, you need a team committed to the restoration process. The team needs a compelling why to spend the time and effort to complete equipment restorations and to develop maintenance strategies for each equipment component.

Just about every facility has or has had reliability issues. In some cases, reliability programs and projects have been tried and succeeded, and tried and failed. Some succeeded and later failed because there was no plan to keep the equipment like new. Neglect changing the oil in your restored car and see how long the engine lasts.

Back to the team. They need a vision of why they want to restore the equipment to new condition, why they want to continue keeping equipment like new for years to come. A team we recently worked with created a vision after a few hours of debate and wordsmithing.

Their vision statement is: “To lead (our companies’) maintenance professionals in sustaining a zero breakdown culture.”

The vision is the driving force behind the why. Every person needs to buy into the vision; they need to know why we are doing it. Depending on how many pieces of equipment you have that need to be restored, this could be a long journey. Therefore, the vision needs to be strong enough to keep the team on course over the long haul.

Have the vision statement printed on large banners and hang it over the entry to the maintenance shop, meeting rooms, and maintenance shop walls. Talk about it at maintenance meetings; celebrate the successes. Keep the vision alive and fresh in every maintenance person’s mind. Equipment reliability needs to be a way of life and it all starts with the why.

Next, the process needs to take restoration into reality. What steps need to be taken to restore and maintain equipment in like-new condition? Resources will be needed to support the steps. Commitment from corporate upper management, plant managers, and the production and maintenance departments to support the journey is needed.



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