Equipment Maintenance – A Practical System in 5 Easy Steps

Before we delve into the intricacies of customizing an equipment maintenance system for a particular environment, let us initially familiarize ourselves with the basic types of maintenance

  1. Preventive Maintenance – to put it simply, this is maintenance that is carried out to ensure that breakdowns are avoided. In this system, the maintenance schedules are prepared based either on the Manufacturer’s recommendations or long-term experience. The importance of this manoeuvre is not just to prevent a breakdown but to eliminate a domino type of damage to the entire system. A classic example of this would be the replacement of the timing belt or timing chain of a motor car – this is generally based on the Manufacturer’s recommendation – however, the most important aspect here is the impact of a failure of the equipment while in operation – if the timing belt or chain gets snapped which the motor car is in motion, it could cause extensive damage to the entire engine of the motor car – creating huge financial implications for the owner of the vehicle. Hence, preventive maintenance is a very important aspect of maintenance.
  2. Routine Maintenance – maintenance that is done to ensure the longevity of equipment. The maintenance schedules are based on Manufacturers’ recommendations and finetuned based on in-house experience. Oiling and greasing schedules, as well as checking belt and chain tensions – all fall under this category and although may seem trivial, really contribute to extending the life of the equipment.
  3. Breakdown Maintenance – these are repairs carried out only when a breakdown of the equipment occurs. This is the most rudimentary form of maintenance. Depending on the extent of shoddiness involved in maintaining inventory, a single breakdown could make or break a company. A breakdown extending over days due to the non-availability of the damaged part could cost the company a very lucrative contract and could well trigger an economic collapse.

In addition to the above, we also have corrective maintenance, predictive maintenance, pre-determined maintenance, etc. to name a few of the many varied forms of maintenance. We also have a plethora of tools by way of PERT, CPM, Lean Six Sigma, etc. to help us in optimizing our maintenance pattern. When we talk about a maintenance system, this would be a combination of one or more of the above methods of maintenance, and one such system which will provide very positive results is Planned Maintenance.

For this post, let us concentrate on the nuances of Planned Plant Maintenance (pun intended); MINUS the intricacies of tools like PERT, CPM, and Lean Six Sigma which we may find practically difficult to introduce in small or micro factories and manufacturing units. Yet again, this involves myriad forms of maintenance including, but not limited to Routine, Preventive and other types of maintenance.

As the name suggests, Planned Maintenance involves a system of extremely comprehensive planned modules. It is also a continuously evolving system of improvement.

Objectives of Planned Equipment Maintenance

  1. One of the primary objectives of the system is to eliminate, or, at the very least, minimize Breakdown Maintenance issues.
  2. It also tries to reduce the actual breakdown time by handling the breakdown more efficiently.
  3. Indirectly, both of these should lead to better plant efficiency.
  4. Another objective is to gradually minimize spare parts inventory.

However, the above four points are easier said than done!

Step-by-step procedure for implementation of a Planned Equipment Maintenance System

  • Develop a reporting system for detailed analysis of the current situation giving insight into
    • Types of breakdowns
    • Timing of breakdowns – for example, 12 Noon
    • Time duration of breakdowns
    • Personnel involved during each breakdown – (Shift-in-charge, fitter, etc.)
    • Criticality of breakdowns – whether it affects the whole plant or just one production line
  • In-depth analysis of the reports over a period of time
    • Replacement parts used
    • Quality of replacement parts used
    • Time taken for the same job by different personnel
    • Whether any breakdown has a particular time cycle
    • Whether any breakdown has a particular schedule – say 12 noon
    • Consider all other aspects such as overtime, outsourcing patterns, etc.
    • And, last but most importantly, arriving at the root cause of each problem
  • Analysis of changes after modifications to the system
    • Review frequency of breakdowns
    • Review quantities of replacement parts used
    • Time taken for the jobs
    • Review Quality Disconnect – whether implementation is proper at the grass root level – to quote a classic example; when staff members were instructed to replace the engine coolant every four hours, in their bid to make up production, they started replacing of coolant with the engine running!
  • Review of current equipment as well as suppliers
    • Analyse efficacy of current equipment as well as spares
    • Review current suppliers and their pricing
    • Source alternate products and suppliers; taking product quality, product price and lead time into consideration
  • Apply continuous fine-tuning
    • Review forms used for analysis
    • Review methods of analysis
    • Review supplied products including technological advances
    • Continuous evaluation of existing and possible new suppliers
    • Methods of standardizing equipment to reduce inventory still further

Remember – Belief directly affects behavior – get the personnel to believe and the results will be much better!

To know more about the right techniques of equipment maintenance, get in touch!

Equipment Maintenance


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