Maintenance operations are the backbone of every heavy industry company. Almost every major industrial disaster can be tracked back to a root cause of a clear lack of maintenance protocol or adherence to maintenance practices.
Three tipping points may occur singularly or in any combination with the maintenance process that could lead to catastrophic disaster.
Components fail due to the laws of thermodynamics which states that all things fall apart, break and erode over time without external intervention. Without intervention everything does and will fail. All components have failure characteristics that allow an observer to understand the process that took place prior to failure and predict future failures under the same contributing circumstances. All failures impact the business in some way. Many failures can negatively impact operational uptime, productivity and profitability.
Once a failure occurs, every failure requires resources to be consumed. These resources are then used in a reactionary method that is far less efficient and effective than being proactively used. Additionally these resources could be used in other areas of the organization and possibly provide a greater value.
Not managing the flow of information on run time, downtime and inventory usage, impacts equipment health and the ability to analyze equipment life cycle and life cycle costs.
Not completing PMs (Preventive Maintenance) as scheduled and letting scheduled work slip will lead to emergency repairs – the most costly maintenance repair. Operators must be trained to be active team members in a total productive maintenance process. As operators, they are the first line of defense when equipment begins to falter.
When top down leadership does not manage the maintenance process, it impacts bottom line results.
Maintenance management must know and understand the characteristics of component failure to identify necessary proactive repairs. It’s possible to intervene (PMs/PdM) to mitigate failures and determine whether equipment should be overhauled or replacement.. No company can predict all failures.
The purpose of an Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is to identify when repairs are needed proactively before failure, prioritize and gain a thorough understanding of the impact of failure cost of business. Understanding operational impact due to failure is the cornerstone to developing the proper intervention.
To determine and assess asset conditions is important only to the extent it provides insight into the nature of the possible failure or the timing of the potential failure. There are many tools and analysis programs that can be used to determine asset conditions. The most valuable tool in most instances is the people involved in the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the equipment.
There are various CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) systems that can capture the necessary data to monitor asset conditions and to evaluate equipment life cycles.
Using the Preventive Maintenance (PM) schedule as developed in a timely manner at the correct frequency intervals will reduce equipment downtime. Training operators to perform routine daily PM activities will reduce defects and increase uptime. Proper maintenance work planning and scheduling will reduce equipment downtime, improve employee safety and applying the right resources in a timely manner will improve maintenance productivity.
Proactive leadership will drive maintenance efficiency and improve the bottom line. Investing in human capital within the maintenance organization will payback in operational maintenance excellence, improve reporting and managing with meaningful KPIs that will lead to improved bottom line results.