MRO Magazine

How to Achieve World-Class Maintenance

In this issue, I am beginning a series of eight articles that will explore what many companies would like to achieve – a world-class maintenance department.

November 1, 2011 | By Peter Phillips

In this issue, I am beginning a series of eight articles that will explore what many companies would like to achieve – a world-class maintenance department.

Over the next eight issues, I’ll offer maintenance managers guidelines on how to move their departments toward an efficient, professional, team-driven environment.

Whether or not you take the time to implement all of the points, I’m sure there will be ideas you can use to improve your maintenance activities.

So here is the first stage you’ll need to follow to get a step closer to a world-class maintenance (WCM) department.


But first, what exactly is WCM? It is simply a series of steps that involves improving your maintenance activities and support systems. Most of us at one time or another have looked at our maintenance department and recognized that the storeroom could use some work to be better organized, the preventive maintenance procedures needed updating, that you need a CMMS to better track equipment history, and so on. All of these improvements result in better service to the production department and more reliable equipment.

Do we hear managers say, ‘We need WCM’? Not really, but everyone understands that improvements cannot be made without a good deal of effort and dedication. So call it what you wish, but world-class maintenance is a desirable outcome for maintenance departments that want to pursue a more efficient, cost-effective way of doing business.

Stage 1: Prepare for professional maintenance

There are eight activities in this first stage. They prepare you for all the other seven stages. The activities are:

1. Defining equipment and its priority

2. Developing a maintenance
work order flow

3. Implementing a CMMS system

4. Managing spare parts inventory

5. Developing professional maintenance shops

6. Lubrication storage

7. Managing reactive maintenance

8. Benchmarking and measuring progress.

Let’s look at each activity in detail.

1. Defining equipment and its priority:

When defining the equipment list, you need to ensure that every piece has been identified in the manufacturing process, along with all support equipment. In order to create a workflow or write a preventive maintenance schedule, you need a complete equipment list.

Next you need to prioritize the equipment. Determine the degree of influence it has on the manufacturing process or the facility operation. The higher the degree of influence or risk, the higher the priority. The equipment priority will have a role to play when tradespeople need to determine what machine to work on first.

2. Developing a maintenance work order flow:

To successfully manage a work order system, every person involved with the work order needs to understand how to execute his or her part. A flow chart will identify every step in the work order process, as well as identify weak spots such as training or corrective actions that are needed to guarantee the success of the work order system.

3. Implementing a CMMS system:

Although it takes significant resources to implement, the CMMS will help you develop the history of the equipment through work orders, inventory usage and preventive maintenance schedules. The software will aid in the planning and scheduling of tradespeople to effectively use their labour hours. Also, equipment spare parts are entered into the program and linked to the equipment so they can be tracked effectively.

4. Managing spare parts inventory:

Equipment spares and materials play a vital role in supporting work execution and ensuring plant availability. The primary function is to respond to the requirement of needing to stock an item or providing a route for quick purchasing through supplier agreements. With the addition of reorder points, a CMMS can create purchase requisitions to reorder stock.

Having a world-class storeroom is a very large task and takes several months of steady dedication and resources to complete. If you have a typical maintenance stockroom, you need to start by sorting and purging. You can begin by using the 5S routine (sorting, straightening, shining, standardizing and self-discipline).

• Start organizing what you have left

• Give every part a home.

• Document your parts and get them entered into the CMMS.

• Determine the quantity to keep for each spare part.

• Develop a visual management system so parts can be found quickly. One minute or less is the benchmark for finding parts in a world-class storeroom.

5. Developing professional maintenance shops:

Many of the workshops I encounter are less than ideal. Many are much too small to work in, crowded by oversize toolboxes, lathes, welding machines and so on – you’ve likely seen the picture.

On top of that, they are usually dirty and unorganized. If you can’t expand your workshop footprint, at the very least you can make it look professional.

• Start by doing a complete 5S, including the trade’s personal toolboxes.

• Using shadow boards and cabinets, arrange specialized tools used for repairs and preventive maintenance tasks (PMs).

• Place special fluids and chemicals in fireproof storage cabinets.

• Develop clean work areas. You need to ensure that dirt and debris does not enter gearboxes, etc., when you are doing rebuilds.

• If your welding shop is part of your maintenance area, then build some walls around it and vent it properly. Welding and grinding are two big contaminators of the parts you may be storing in your shop and can cause rebuilds to become full of crap.

• Do you really need to store the personal tool boxes of your tradespeople in the shop? It seems these boxes are getting bigger every year. They take up a lot of room. I understand the person working that day needs his or her toolbox open and available, but do you need the off-shift toolboxes there too?

I look at it this way: Maintenance people generally are paid well. It takes a minimum of four years to become certified, so why don’t you look like the professional you have become?

6. Lubrication storage:

Your lubes keep the plant running. The biggest documented causes of premature failure is the lack of lubrication, or contaminated greases and oils.

To store your lubricants you need to:

• Create an area to store lubricants. It must be clean, dry, ventilated and have environmental controls.

• Everything needs to be organized and labelled.

• Housekeeping practices need to be put in place.

• All the lubricants you stock need to be reviewed to see if they are adequate for their purpose. Best pricing is not the best way to purchase; lubes must meet OEM specifications.

• The shelf life of oils needs to be considered. Buying in bulk is not always the best practice.

• Inspect grease and oil dispensing tools, as they need to be kept clean and in good condition. They should be tested and possibly calibrated to ensure they deliver the correct amount of lubricant.

• Lubrication schedules need to be developed and adhered to. Create lubrication PMs and frequencies and enter them into your CMMS.

7. Managing reactive maintenance:

Many maintenance departments have a hard time completing their preventive maintenance work orders because they are too busy putting out fires. Breakdown repairs come first, of course, but we need to manage them. How?

• Every breakdown needs to be analyzed to uncover its root cause.

• Worn and broken parts need to be collected and analyzed.

• Information about breakdowns needs to be captured.

You need to:

• Set up a system to investigate breakdowns and record the details.

• Set up a system to gather and tag damaged parts for analysis.

• Set up a system to review all equipment for similar reoccurrences.

• Train personnel on Root Cause Analysis (RCA) methods.

8. Benchmarking and measuring progress:

The goals for a world-class maintenance department are to improve maintenance activities and to provide better service in order to create more reliable equipment and more uptime. Before you start the WCM quest, measure where you are now, so you will be able to see your improvements later.

Measure the following:

• How long does it take to find a part in the stockroom?

• What is your current breakdown to PM ratio?

• Measure your downtime per machine.

• What is your Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)?

• What is your Mean Time To Repair (MTTR)?

• Measure your craft utilization.

It’s a good idea to take before and after pictures of your improvements in all areas.

Many of you are probably saying, “Look at all the work we would have to do just for Stage 1.” Indeed, it is a lot of work, but it’s worth every minute. It will also cost considerable money to complete. However, this money will be returned quickly through increased uptime.

We have seven more stages to complete. In the next article, we’ll move into Stage 2 and look at equipment evaluation and deterioration.


Peter Phillips of Trailwalk Holdings, a Canadian CMMS consulting and training company, can be reached at 902-798-3601 or by e-mail at


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