A large part of keeping a company running efficiently and profitably is ensuring that all equipment is functioning optimally. To do so, routine preventative maintenance needs to be conducted. Unfortunately, regular equipment checks often go overlooked in certain areas of a company's operations mainly because attention is usually directed toward more pressing issues. However, when small tasks go overlooked for long periods of time, problems often follow; production errors, work injuries, and asset damage can all occur if careful tracking and maintenance aren’t followed. A breakdown in critical equipment is costly both regarding repairs as well as downtime and delays in a company’s productivity.
The problems outlined can be avoided with a computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) system that offers preventative maintenance as one of its key functions. With a CMMS in place, companies can get a birds-eye-view of all their facilities and locations to ensure that effective preventative care is scheduled by all standard operating procedures. Preventative maintenance tools such as automatic triggers, email integration, set reminders, equipment information, and auto-assigned task can streamline a company’s entire maintenance process. Here are the steps in creating an effective preventative equipment maintenance plan:
Before any procedures are put in place, it is important first to establish who will be involved in the preventative maintenance (PM) project. Depending on the company size, likely choices may include maintenance managers, maintenance techs and/or people from accounting or finance departments. Additionally, it is critical that staff members are fully invested in developing the program so that the PM implementation can be successful. A final aspect of creating a PM plan is determining a goal for the project. Examples of PM project goals are: reducing reactive or corrective maintenance costs by X% or decreasing equipment downtime by X%.
The most time-consuming aspect of setting up a preventative maintenance program involves going through a facility and creating an inventory all applicable equipment. Although this is a tedious exercise, it is a critical one as it ensures that preventative checks can routinely be made on all relevant operation equipment. As part of this task, it is important to make note of equipment Make/Model, Serial Numbers, Specifications, Asset Identification Numbers and Fixed Locations. Finally, documenting the current condition of the equipment can help prioritize its importance as part of a PM program.
Once a list of equipment has been made, the next step is to determine the tasks or jobs required to maintain each piece of equipment as well as the frequency with which these tasks should occur (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually). There may be times when PMs are best suited to be scheduled around runtime hours while for other pieces of equipment, downtime maintenance may be more beneficial. Whichever is the case, it is important to make note of these different scheduling scenarios while also estimating how much time may be needed to perform the PMs.
Most preventative maintenance programs accommodate schedules based on runtime hours, but having prior knowledge of how often these may occur will assist in a company’s scheduling process. PM procedures can be determined based on prior corrective maintenance experiences or by referencing owner’s manuals and manufacturer recommendations and industry standard techniques. An important part of creating PM procedures is also making a list of tools as well as internal and external resources that may be needed to complete each job. In summary, a PM plan should include the following: a parts list, standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety/lockout procedures and estimated time to complete.
Scheduling a PM plays a key role in a company’s operation since these will occur regularly and will involve time, energy and workforce to complete. In creating a PM schedule, it is important to make a list of high priority items; these will be the starting points. Preventative maintenance programs take time to be created and it is best to schedule highest priority maintenance before overloading staff with low priority ones. The initial PM goals established will direct which assets should be prioritized. For example, it is important to identify which equipment is most costly to a company regarding repairs, downtimes and value to operations. Once high priority items have been identified, it is recommended to begin by scheduling long term PMs first (i.e., Annual, Semi-Annual, Quarterly). Equipment requiring long term PMs generally require the most time and resources, and because of this, scheduling may be best during specific times during the year (i.e., shutdown, at the beginning of heating/cooling season.) Once high priority long term PMs are completed, scheduling short term (i.e., weekly, monthly, etc.) and low priority items should follow. Since these PMs generally require less time, they can also easily fill the gaps between the long term and high priority PMs. 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.
While developing a PM program can be a daunting task, proper implementation or adoption of the program is crucial. It is essential that companies prioritize the training of its maintenance staff as they are the core users of the system. Having staff members trained to use a program by correctly entering time spent effectively, parts used, identifying deficiencies or issues found increases the likelihood that the results will be positive.
Businesses are dynamic and so are its equipment assets. Because of this, it is important always to analyze the results of a preventative maintenance program and to adjust or improve it as needed. PM programs can help companies to quickly determine the pieces of equipment that require more time and money than others, leading to adjustments in the PM Procedure/Schedule. Adjustments and improvements to PM programs can be guided by consultation and suggestions from staff.
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 PMs far outweigh the costs associated with reactive or emergency maintenance that often results in unforeseen downtimes, equipment replacement, and operation disruption. Having a system in place that monitors company assets makes it possible for flexible maintenance scheduling saving time, money and energy.