Virtually every modern organization uses some equipment, machinery, or systems for daily activities. For instance, a common and crucial system in most organizations is an HVAC system. Many use heavy machinery such as precision lathes, industrial centrifuges, and conveyor belts. The point is that there’s equipment involvement in most organizations. And, when there’s equipment use, reducing machine downtime becomes a priority. Even regular business offices require maintenance as a breakdown could lead to bottlenecks, disruptions, accidents, premature equipment replacements, and losses. As such, maintenance managers are in charge of preventing all of this.
However, only hiring maintenance managers aren’t enough. The practices they implement are crucial for effective equipment maintenance and reducing downtime. For starters, while 88% of manufacturing firms are using the more modern and useful preventive maintenance approach. Whereas, others are still using reactive maintenance, which adds more equipment downtime. While also causing disruptions, and increasing costs. If you don’t schedule maintenance tasks for your equipment, your equipment will do it for you.
That being said, let’s take a look at the best practices maintenance managers are implementing for reducing machine downtime at their facilities.
One of the first and foremost practices for reducing machine downtime is to take it from experts. Who is better than the one who built the equipment? Any machinery comes with manuals. However, heavy or industrial equipment, comes with a handful of documents like manuals, guidelines, warranty information, etc. These are treasures that can boost maintenance management. They help keep the equipment in good shape for maintenance managers. These manuals contain technical information, installation guidelines, maintenance instructions, and capacity constraints. Additionally, they include information about spare parts, diagrams of correct use cases, and so much more.
While this is the most common practice most maintenance managers implement, those still stuck with reactive maintenance (a whopping 60% of manufacturing firms) don’t use it. For them, it’s high time to shift to preventive maintenance. Especially as reactive maintenance only focuses on providing maintenance after the machinery has broken down. Something that’s not recommended for the machinery or anyone around it.
On the other hand, preventive maintenance is all about planning maintenance tasks and assigning technicians to carry them out accordingly. Modern pieces of machinery require maintenance such as lubrication, servicing, cleaning, relacing spare parts, among others. All of which should be on a schedule. Preventive maintenance also includes inspecting the machinery for potential problems. Thereby, helping deal with them before they become unsolvable, all of which helps reduce machine downtime. Maintenance managers plan, organize, schedule, and assign these tasks and activities using CMMS software for optimal efficiency.
Just carrying out maintenance tasks in due time isn’t all that’s required for reducing machine downtime. Keeping records of all the maintenance tasks, activities, and results is also significant. Work history is crucial for future servicing and maintenance of the equipment. These records help identify patterns, detect the most common problems, and develop an effective plan to solve the problem. Moreover, suppose a piece of equipment has different maintenance tasks for the same issue. In that case, the work history can help identify which one solved the problem effectively. Thereby, helping to reduce equipment downtime.
A simple but very effective practice that helps keep the equipment in good condition is to keep it clean and operate in a clean environment. Dust particles, debris, oil, and other materials can cause the equipment to perform poorly as these might clog important parts or vents. Regularly cleaning the equipment using the manufacturer’s guidelines is crucial to ensure optimal performance, reduce safety incidents, and minimize breakdowns.
Most pieces of machinery have several components. Some of which can be replaced easily by maintenance technicians as they wear out after extensive use. Some of these user-replaceable components are filters, belts, spindle bearings, among others. However, if these components aren’t available when the equipment needs them, it will lead to longer periods of downtime. For instance, a metal lathe machine needs to have replacement spindle bearings. However, if the components aren’t available within the organization, operators can’t use the equipment until the parts arrive.
With preventive maintenance, maintenance managers can identify which components they might need. All thanks to previous patterns, and ensure that the spare parts are readily available whenever the equipment demands them.
While there are different approaches to maintenance management, the best ones are proactive approaches that help deal with the problems right from the start. While many organizations are apprehensive that preventive maintenance has high initial costs, replacing, repairing, and maintaining assets using reactive maintenance is far more expensive. Those implementing a preventive maintenance plan have witnessed far fewer equipment failures, lower downtime, and improved equipment performance, among other benefits.