Equipment breakdown is not just a minor hiccup that can be easily dismissed. Depending on a few factors, including the severity of the damage and availability of needed parts, breakdowns can have short- and long-term effects on your business.
Although there is no way to divine the future and predict breakdowns before they happen, you can have the next best thing – preventive maintenance.
How breakdowns undermine your business
Equipment breakdown leads to downtime. In turn, downtime leads to further problems.
First, your workers have no recourse but to do nothing and wait, unless they have been trained to perform other tasks. Essentially, you are paying them to do nothing.
Second, you have to pay for the repair and acquisition of needed spare parts. You might also need to pay your maintenance crew overtime pay in order to get the defective machine up and running.
Third, an equipment breakdown means that your production comes to a grinding halt, which can mean unmet orders plus the loss of potential income.
Finally, your reputation may become tarnished. When production stops and orders are not fulfilled, customers may think that you are deliberately withholding on your promise. Your customer support may also be put under pressure as they scramble to explain the situation to irate customers.
Reactive vs. preventive maintenance
Switching to a preventive maintenance program can help you avoid these problems and even increase your bottom line over the long term. But what, exactly, is preventive maintenance, and how is it different from reactive maintenance?
In reactive maintenance, repairs are done when an asset breaks down. Its main advantage is that your employees can continuously work on the assets and maximize production until various equipment reach their limits.
However, there are several drawbacks that companies adhering to this maintenance system need to watch out for.
First, the maximum use of assets can only happen when they perform optimally. Without preventive maintenance, further damage to equipment can occur, which can lead to costly repairs and replacement parts.
Second, reactive maintenance is predicated on the idea of treating the symptoms instead of the underlying cause. With this system in place, it is not unusual for maintenance teams to work over and over again on the same issues. This is because the main reason for these issues has not yet been fully resolved.
And when the leading cause of the breakdown is not thoroughly addressed, the lifespan of the asset is shortened, leading to high costs over the short and long term, in the form of constant repairs and the acquisition of new assets.
In preventive maintenance, the main focus is the avoidance of repairs. This goal is achieved through careful planning and the performance of maintenance work before breakdowns occur.
This means that instead of waiting for an asset to fail, the maintenance crew puts the machines offline to work on them.
One of the chief advantages of this approach is predictability. Instead of merely reacting to asset failure, especially during crunch time, your crew performs maintenance work based on a schedule. Such schedule may either be time-based or when specific parameters have been triggered.
Another advantage of preventive maintenance is that the chances of unexpected downtime are minimized. In turn, this translates to higher productivity, lower costs, and increased profits.
Shifting to a preventive maintenance scheme does not eliminate reactive maintenance totally. Asset breakdown can and will occur. However, such instances will be lessened. In an ideal scenario, 80 percent of maintenance works should be preventive while the remainder would be reactive.
Making the shift
If you are keen on shifting from a reactive maintenance program to a preventive maintenance scheme, here are some essential things that you need to consider in order to ensure a smooth transition.
Get everyone to buy in
Making the transition to preventive maintenance is a big jump for everyone in your company, from the management down to individual operators. As such, it is integral to get everyone to buy in with this transition. Your success must be anchored on the idea that everyone will be supporting the upcoming changes.
For management, that means making them see the advantages of making the shift, especially in terms of costs and profits. They may also need to approve the use of new systems and assets like a reliable CMMS.
For other teams within the organization, it can mean adhering to a new maintenance schedule. By working together with management and the different groups involved in the production, you can map out a plan of action that outlines what workers can do during scheduled maintenance periods.
Plan for success
Another critical area that should be given ample attention during the transition period is preparation.
In preventive maintenance, a few important things, including having enough spare parts readily available, updating asset documentation, and putting into place systems backups, need to be addressed.
Planning is also crucial in scheduling, and stakeholders should be consulted on this. In preventive maintenance, there are two types of activities that need to be scheduled. First is the assessment where inspections are conducted. Second is remedial work, which involves maintenance work designed to prevent asset breakdowns.
Everyone, especially the production team, should have a say in these, especially the frequency and timing of these activities.
Evaluate your assets
In consultation with individual operators, you should perform an inventory of all your company assets, with keen attention to the attributes of each of these. You should know ahead about the life stage, maintenance requirements, and available spare parts of each asset.
Once you have acquired this information, you should then create a study of how the breakdown of each asset impacts the production and the business as a whole.
Knowing all of these will help you in convincing all stakeholders to get involved.
Create a starting point
The final ingredient needed for a successful transition is putting into place a system to measure success.
This will require a baseline which will serve as your jump-off point. Along with a baseline, you will also need to set KPIs for maintenance. These KPIs will help you determine common causes of asset failure as well as help you track the success of the transition.
Making the transition from any old system to a new one is not easy. Many people would like to adhere to what they are accustomed to. But with proper preparation, the justify tools such as a CMMS, and the support of all team members, making the switch from reactive to preventive maintenance will be easier for everyone involved.
Mohammad Daudi is the Chief Revenue Officer at SGE Group International, a multidisciplinary group of companies with core business interests in Asset Lifecycle Management, Land Development, and Software. Aladdin is SGE’s proprietary Asset Lifecycle Management software, designed to empower FM, Maintenance and Asset teams across multiple industry sectors.
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