Manufacturing

Avoid Unexpected Downtime and Costs with Preventive Maintenance

Equipment breakdowns is inevitable. However, smart preventive maintenance systems can reduce premature asset breakdowns, keep employees safe, and even save millions in costs.

The savings from not lubricating parts, replacing minor components, and paying staff to complete maintenance tasks will be canceled by the long-term costs you’ll suffer through emergency service for unexpected breakdowns.

A study shows around 82 percent of companies experiencing at least one unplanned downtime outages, costing companies $250,000 per hour. And, according to a study from Buildings.com, it’s estimated that running a piece of equipment to the point of failure costs up to 10 times as much as implementing a regular maintenance program would.

Review the history of any operational maintenance program, and you will begin to notice a pattern: Big problems are often caused by small, preventable oversights. Typically, an organization’s most devastating accidents, operational losses, and production setbacks are caused by maintenance systems and internal communication failures.

This is why you need to start implementing preventive maintenance programs in your manufacturing plant.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is a planned service that is regularly performed on company assets, equipment, and infrastructure while they are still working. It includes adjustments, cleaning, lubrication, repairs, and parts replacements.

Preventive maintenance requires careful planning and scheduling, as well as keeping accurate records of past inspections and servicing reports.

The purpose of this maintenance is to detect and repair any initial failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects.

What are the benefits of implementing preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance offers companies many important benefits including:

  • Reduced unplanned downtime due to asset failure
  • Better margins and profits due to less downtime
  • Prolonged life of the assets and less unnecessary maintenance and inspections
  • Less injury risk and increased safety
  • Fewer interruptions to vital operations as timely, routine repairs ensures fewer large-scale repairs

Types of preventive maintenance

There are many different types of preventive maintenance that require different types of technology and expertise. But, here are the four common types of preventive maintenance.

1. Time-based preventive maintenance

Time-based preventive maintenance is performed based on a schedule on the calendar. In other words, time is the trigger to perform a maintenance task. Servicing your air conditioner every spring or replacing your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit’s air filter every three months are common examples of calendar-based maintenance.

2. Usage-based preventive maintenance

Usage-based preventive maintenance is performed based on the actual usage of each piece of equipment. The parameter could be the number of kilometers, hours, or production cycles. An example of this trigger is a motor-vehicle that might be scheduled for service every 10,000km.

3. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is performed based on the prediction when downtime will occur on a piece of equipment based on historical data. This type of preventive maintenance is especially useful when used with CMMS software. Logging work order data into a CMMS enables your maintenance manager to notice patterns in breakdowns over time, so they can schedule maintenance to prevent them from happening again.

4. Prescriptive maintenance

Prescriptive maintenance is similar to predictive maintenance, but instead of only the maintenance manager prescribing maintenances, machine learning software assists them to help schedule preventive maintenance tasks. Machine-learning software is designed to detect anomalies in a machine’s behavior during production. If an anomaly is detected, it’s flagged and reported for maintenance. Using AI-enabled prescriptive maintenance not only predicts possible failure but also attempts to provide an outcome-focused maintenance recommendation based on that machine’s analytics.

How to design a preventive maintenance program

Here are the steps for creating an effective preventative maintenance program:

1. Create a preventive maintenance plan

Before any preventive maintenance procedures are put in place, it is important first to establish who will be involved in the preventative maintenance project. Depending on the company size, likely choices may include maintenance managers, maintenance techs and/or people from the accounting or finance departments.

Next, set a goal for the project. Look at specific metrics that you can use to track your progress accurately. For example, how far you reduce unscheduled overtime hours or how much money you save from preventing unexpected equipment breakdown.

2. Create inventory of all equipment

The most time-consuming aspect of setting up a preventive maintenance program involves going through a facility and creating an inventory of all relevant equipment.

However, it is critical to ensure that you’re building the right maintenance plan for the right key operational equipment. You can’t make a plan to look after what you have if you don’t know exactly what you have.

As part of this task, it is important to take note of equipment make/model, serial numbers, specifications, asset identification numbers, and fixed locations. The more data you can collect on each asset and piece of equipment, the better.

Finally, documenting the current condition of the equipment can help prioritize its importance as part of a preventive maintenance program. 

3. Create preventive maintenance procedures

Preventive maintenance procedures should include a parts list, standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety/lockout procedures, and estimated time to complete the maintenance tasks.

Preventive maintenance procedures can be determined based on prior corrective maintenance experiences or by referencing the manufacturer manual and documented industry standards. There may be times when preventive maintenance is best suited to be scheduled around run-time hours, while for other assets, other meter-based triggers are more appropriate.

Besides the procedures, you also need to create a maintenance checklist to ensure all the maintenance steps have been performed correctly according to the procedure. You can use an inspection software like Nimbly to digitalize and streamline your maintenance inspection process.

4. Create preventive maintenance schedule priorities

When creating a preventive maintenance schedule, it is important to make a list of high priority items. It is best to schedule the highest priority maintenance before overloading staff with tasks that rank lower on priority.

First, Identify which equipment is most costly to a company regarding repairs, downtime, and value to operations.

Once high priority items have been identified, begin by scheduling preventive maintenance tasks with longer intervals first (e.g., annual and quarterly). Equipment requiring preventive maintenance on longer intervals generally require the most time and resources, and because of this, scheduling may be best during specific times during the year.

Then, schedule tasks with shorter intervals and more frequent cycles (e.g., weekly and monthly) and low-priority items should follow. Since these preventive maintenance tasks generally require less time, they can also easily fill the gaps between the long term and high priority preventive maintenance.

It is important to realistically plan preventative maintenance schedules by striking a balance between preventative maintenance and the time needed to address corrective or emergency maintenance as well as other projects that will likely surface.

5. Train your maintenance team

It is essential that companies prioritize the training of its maintenance staff as they are the core users of the system. Make sure they also have easy access to additional videos, manuals, and other documentation. In the end, the best way to learn is hands-on. The sooner they have access to the software and can start to experiment with it, the better.

It is also critical that staff members are fully invested in developing the program so that the preventive maintenance implementation can be successful. To achieve this, you need to tailor your message to the person’s specific concerns. If it’s a tech, talk about how PMs take the pressure off. No more running around putting out maintenance fires. But for someone in the accounting department who’s concerned about the initial startup costs, you need to focus on the long-term return on investment. 

6. Analyze, adjust, and improve

Businesses are dynamic and so are their equipment assets. Because of this, it is important to analyze the results of a preventative maintenance program and adjust as needed. You can also seek the assistance of consultants to assess and adjust your preventive maintenance programs.

Summary

Without a doubt, developing and implementing a preventative maintenance program takes time and energy. However, once in place with staff trained to use it, the benefits of automated preventive maintenance far outweigh the costs associated with reactive or emergency maintenance that often results in unforeseen downtime, equipment replacement, and operation disruption.

About Nimbly

Nimbly digitizes manual checklists and converts the collected data into real-time insights, enabling companies to monitor, manage, and evaluate business operations effortlessly.

With Nimbly, you can eliminate paperwork and manual data entry, reducing man-hours and costs needed to implement equipment inspection. You can also empower stronger maintenance execution and improve compliance to operating procedures through digital checklists, automatic scheduling, and reports completion tracker.

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