Equipment Maintenance Best Practices – Basics, Objectives and Functions

The main aim of prompt equipment maintenance revolves around maintaining top functionality and minimizing breakdowns. Maintenance management of mechanical equipment includes repair, replacement and servicing of tools. It ensures their operational viability and prevents fluctuations in the production process.

The evolving nature of many industries is calling out for better  equipment maintenance practices. In today’s age, even a minor downtime can lower the overall efficiency of machines and lead to major production losses. In financial terms, the average cost of unplanned downtime is $260,000 per hour Thus, it’s critical for organizations to design a robust maintenance strategy.

Failure to do so can result in the following consequences:

  • Loss in production and resources
  • Possibility of project subcontracting
  • Rescheduling of entire projects
  • Material wastage from unused resources
  • Overtime labor due to unexpected downtime
  • Early disposal of machinery and equipment

But there is a way out! You can avoid these shortcomings by laying down a few basic objectives for your equipment maintenance  program.

  • Set internal quality and usage standards: This helps the staff to streamline maintenance based on the asset type, so that assets are operated in the right manner and there are less chances of misuse and downtime.
  • Develop consultation practice: Carry out any rigorous repairs only after proper consultation from the concerned department. This helps in laying out a proper schedule for maintenance projects and determines whether there is a need for subcontracting.
  • Document all such activities thoroughly: This will allow you to track repair history and calculate depreciation for timely disposal. An online system that instinctively updates asset records is essential for this.
  • Stick to deadlines: To complete daily tasks within deadlines, adhere to your maintenance plan. Completing tasks also minimizes any waste of repair resources.

Setting up the aforementioned objectives can greatly cut large-scale replacement costs and generate higher revenues by raising total productivity.

Different Types of Equipment Maintenance Practices

equipment maintenance

Companies hold several assets, both high and low in value. If you choose a single restorative plan, you might end up spending a lot more on an asset than what its actually worth.

To filter out items which can be easily replaced instead of getting repaired, a company should run several types of repair and service events. Different organizational workflows need different types of maintenance:

1. Planned maintenance

It refers to scheduled maintenance to cope with equipment failures before they actually occur. It can be further broken down into preventive and predictive maintenance.

  • Preventive maintenance is carried out at predetermined intervals by following a prescribed criteria. It is time-driven and based on the assumption that usability of a mechanical component will decline over its useful life-cycle. It includes activities like regular equipment inspection, partial or complete overhauls, oil changes and lubrication etc.
  • Predictive maintenance is different from preventive maintenance such that it depends on the working condition of the machinery rather than its average life expectancy. It requires monitoring equipment during its normal operations to see if it’s working at its best. Some companies use periodic vibration analysis to continuously monitor high value assets and simply check them in for maintenance when their vibration fluctuates.

2. Corrective maintenance

This type of maintenance restores any failed pieces of equipment. It is typically performed at irregular intervals since technicians don’t know when a certain machine will break down. The main aim here is to fix a problem in the shortest possible time using three steps: diagnosis, repair and verification.

3. Routine maintenance

Not dependent on any broken parts or downtime, it includes some necessary activities such as cleaning, lubricating and replacing batteries on small-scale assets or equipment. This is generally performed on a weekly basis.

Steps of a Maintenance Program  

When setting up a maintenance plan, companies are likely to focus on major breakdown issues whilst ignoring smaller problems. This isn’t advisable in the long-term. Even the least harmful problem areas can eventually lead to production errors, asset damage and injuries at work if not resolved in time.

Here are a few simple steps you can follow to help you design a proactive maintenance routine:

1. Create a team

First, you need to create the right maintenance team. Recruit maintenance managers, technicians and relevant people from the operations department. Then lay down the goals you want your team to achieve.  These might include minimizing corrective repair costs and reducing downtime of the equipment. Motivate your team members to make the maintenance program a success!

2. Record your equipment

Documenting your assets is necessary. You need to have an accurate asset count in order  to know how many require maintenance. Add asset information like make/model, manufacturer ID, asset specification, and location. It is easy to update prerecorded data, and it also allows you to prioritize maintenance activities.

3. Establish maintenance procedures

Once you have a well-grounded inventory list, you need to determine how frequently you should service the assets. This can be done on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or a semi-annual basis depending on the item type.

Additionally, you need to outline the procedures for repair including the standard operating and repair guidelines or safety measures. Finally, prepare a list of internal or outsourced maintenance tools that you need.

4. Prioritize maintenance tasks

For seamless daily operation, you need to  categorize high, medium and low-priority repair tasks. Service sessions can take a lot of time so you need to choose your battles wisely. Start off with high value equipment and begin scheduling maintenance tasks with longer intervals first (annual then bi-annual) as they take up the most time and resources. You can then focus on low-priority items that require less effort.

5. Train your team

Developing and implementing a maintenance system is a lengthy process and proper adoption of the program is key! To optimize their management strategy, companies should devise training schedules so that their team knows exactly how to deploy repair practices within different departments. Optimal use of the restorative plan will eventually lead you to higher return on investment.

6. Seek improvements

Businesses evolve along with their assets over time. Due to this constant transition, it is important to analyze progress for future growth.

You might notice that some equipment gets checked-in for maintenance more often than others. This can be concerning if the repair and replacement costs of the item exceed its actual worth. To tackle such incidents, assess your maintenance plan after regular intervals, and make any changes as necessary.  

Implement Best Practices of Equipment Maintenance

tool kit

The most important factor to consider while implementing a restorative strategy is to adjust it as your assets evolve. Over time, some equipment becomes obsolete while some shows a higher usage demand. To deal with these fluctuations in resource utilization, it is helpful to outline some basic guidelines.

Here are a few best practices which can raise efficiency levels for your maintenance program:

1. Gather baseline information

After collecting all necessary data on your capital assets, you can estimate the approximate equipment usage. Before you start off checking-in assets for repair, it is important to assess the scale of the challenge.

Collect information for machine downtime, average time between failures, replacement cost of parts, and response time of technicians etc. The aim is to calculate the average cost of one hour of downtime and then use this statistic to design a viable maintenance strategy.

2. Choose an appropriate support system

Companies can opt for either a manual or a computerized system when it comes to picking an equipment maintenance software. A software might seem costly as it  needs some upfront investment involving subscription fees, but it comes along with many benefits.

Equipment maintenance software allows you to mass import asset data on to a cloud based platform. You can schedule each item for recurring service periods. This automates repair reminders and makes items unavailable for check-out to your employees.

In comparison to a manual maintenance system, an online system has quick response time and easy access to all asset information, in turn, reducing average downtime duration.

3. Put Together Maintenance Checklists

Carrying out service and repair sessions means scheduling service tickets to reduce the impact of downtime.  A maintenance strategy should be well defined and reviewed on a regular basis. To ensure the correct implementation of the program, it helps to have service events listed down.

You can also develop a preventive maintenance checklist to monitor repairs and adjustments without missing out on critical assets. Generally, organizations write down checklists for the following activities:

  • Lighting
  • Electrical
  • Safety
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)
  • Buildings
  • Fixtures and furniture
  • Plumbing

During every service event, technicians can check off points  from the checklist that were covered. If any equipment requires extra maintenance, then it can be scheduled on notice.

4. Develop Consistency in Inspection

An excellent maintenance program might not produce the right outcome if you slack off in following it. It is quite possible for technicians to miss out on certain repair events in case of tight deadlines.

While it becomes tough to follow the inspection strategy in an ongoing project, make sure that you do not skip the routine completely. In such situations, track records to ensure there are no discrepancies. To speed up processes, you can switch to electronic monitoring which takes up less time than paper logs.

5. Send out Custom Reminders

Organizations working with various types of assets often find it hard to keep track of their last maintenance session. Employees might forget the timeline and even end up using faulty equipment which could lead to safety hazards.

To prevent such incidents, maintain a service log which allows you to send out email alerts. With the ability to customize notifications as per requirements, you can remind the concerned department about the schedule. This way, you can ensure a seamless inspection routine.  

Enhance your Production Efficiency with a Well-grounded Maintenance Strategy

maintenance plan

A robust maintenance strategy can boost your production efficiency by optimizing equipment usage. To achieve this, you need to periodically track progress and make necessary amendments. There are two kinds of key performance indicators which companies can track for monitoring the effectiveness of their equipment maintenance strategy.

  • Estimated versus actual performance and compliance;
  • Past events such as mean time to repair, overall equipment effectiveness and mean time between failure.

By documenting these metrics, you can generate valuable insights which can signal future business growth. Actionable reports help dictate movement in the right direction and tackle any maintenance challenges along the way. This not only reduces your costs but drives you to achieve maximum operational efficiency.