MRO Magazine

Manufacturing Best Practices for Preventive Maintenance

How much preventive maintenance should you be doing?

October 1, 2021 | By Barbara van der Walt

The high cost of downtime is one of the biggest reasons manufacturers invest in preventive maintenance programs. According to Industry Week, manufacturers deal with around 800 hours of downtime annually. As many as 30 per cent of facilities experience unplanned downtime within the first quarter. Even though that is a significant amount when you consider the cost, there are opportunities to streamline operations and reduce downtime. Plant Engineering recently released their 2021 Maintenance study showing 88 per cent of industrial facilities follow a preventive maintenance strategy.

Scheduled Vs. Unscheduled
There is a lot to consider when comparing scheduled with unscheduled maintenance; scheduled being a proactive maintenance strategy anticipating the issue and taking actions on a specific time and scenario, whereas unscheduled/responsive maintenance responds when a piece of equipment or machine component stops working.

An organization should aim to schedule as many maintenance operations as possible on a rotational basis and conduct maintenance work before it claims one of your machines and negatively influences your productivity. The generally held gold standard for scheduled maintenance work is around 85 per cent of all tasks, although any organization achieving 75 per cent or more is performing very well.

Also, keep in mind that not all scheduled maintenance is necessary. For example, letting a light bulb burn out before replacing it as part of a normal run-to-fail operational process. There is a plan in place to replace or repair the item without scheduling or downtime associated with preventive work orders.


Allocation of Resources
Too many organizations are not allocating their human resources in a way that will facilitate effective preventive maintenance. Outsourcing, using highly skilled employees to complete practical tasks, handle the administrative and reporting that usually follows are increasing unnecessary labour costs.

An organization should aim to schedule as many maintenance operations as possible on a rotational basis and conduct maintenance work before it claims one of your machines and negatively influences your productivity.

Ensure that your maintenance teams are assigned to their trade skills and equipped to complete their tasks and reporting for management to gain a better understanding of the health of machinery and business assets. It may seem wasteful to have mechanics handle reporting after completing tasks and you may be reluctant to reduce outsourcing to accommodate the extra load, but the benefit that this will deliver to your organization should not be underestimated. Increased awareness of what preventive measures are, which skilled worker is required, and when the PM must be carried out can show better return on investment.

Software Infrastructure
Manufacturing organizations – particularly larger scale companies – produce vast amounts of data daily. This data relates to everything from production levels of individual machines and time elapsed since the last inspection, to faulty or damaged parts, quality control, machine downtime, and everything in between.

Keeping on top of such a cumbersome and unwieldy stack of information is almost impossible to achieve manually. A robust and reliable software platform must be implemented to handle it. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) will take this data and use it to provide insight into what must be done to ensure the smooth running of your machinery, enabling you to stay ahead of the curve and schedule maintenance tasks that are preventive rather than restorative.

A CMMS platform can even be used to generate a report regarding your return on investment (ROI) by calculating the costs and expenditure avoided by scheduling preventive work in a timely manner. This provides a key element that all business owners require when forging ahead with a new initiative; the proof that it is cost-effective. By implementing a reliable system of maintenance reporting and scheduling, and by underpinning these endeavours with the appropriate piece of CMMS software, you can provide proof to partners and investors alike that your actions are moving the organization forward.
Barbara van der Walt, Head of Marketing, Eagle Technology, Inc.


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