Maintenance, Mechanical, Industrial Contractors, Contractor, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

5 Benefits of Mobile for Asset Intensive Organizations

Many asset-intensive industries continue to lag behind other sectors in the digitalization of asset management. For industries such as oil & gas, utilities, and mining, profitability and growth are directly dependent on how efficiently assets are utilized. An effective mobile strategy is critical for these organizations as they strive to improve efficiency, communication, and productivity.

Mobile plant maintenance solutions are transforming how organizations manage and monitor assets. By improving both the quality and quantity of information, mobility can deliver a significant competitive advantage by minimizing unplanned downtime and helping inform when equipment might fail. An effective mobile strategy is now a key pillar of digital transformation strategies for all enterprise asset-heavy industries.

For organizations and maintenance teams looking to integrate and optimize their mobility strategy, there are five key benefits that they can expect.

1. More Accurate Data Driving Better Decision-Making

With mobile devices, team members can capture data in real-time rather than on paper. Immediate access to data eliminates the time spent on-site standing at a kiosk or at a computer in the office inputting data. Delays in data entry can impact data integrity and leaves room for human error. This can include losing paper records and incorrectly remembering time entries on start/stop times, work order completion times, and calibration numbers for equipment. Simple human errors can lead to costly mistakes.

By capturing data in real-time and at the source, data accuracy increases significantly. As a result, teams can schedule, execute, and troubleshoot from the field. This helps create a safer, more productive working environment. This benefit alone is enough for organizations to recognize that going mobile is not optional.

2. Better Visibility Into Equipment and Asset Health and History

Capturing data on a mobile device provides organizations with more reliable and accurate data which empowers management to make quicker and better informed decisions. This not only saves time, but in the case of asset-intensive industries, it reduces the safety risks from unplanned equipment failure Continuously capturing data provides a historical record and analytics on an asset or piece of equipment. Having access to data at your fingertips while in the field will allow maintenance teams to quickly pinpoint potential issues. Gaining visibility into past data can transform a plant, shifting its maintenance strategy from corrective to preventative, or even predictive maintenance model. Teams can ward off potential equipment failure in advance, minimizing workplace hazards and maintaining a safer, more productive work environment and enhance productivity. Eventually, this will result in maintenance moving to a predictive maintenance model rather than following a traditional static calendar. Without mobility, predictive maintenance remains an elusive goal. Mobility provides an added level of access to your organization’s source of truth and better insight into data that maintenance and operations would otherwise not have without a mobile solution.

3. More Effective Maintenance = Less Downtime

With real-time data capture, organizations can optimize the usage of assets. With enhanced and accurate insights, plants will know when to service equipment. By digging into the historical data, planners can improve the accuracy of their planning strategy and plan, which reduces the amount of downtime. Teams can optimize assets as they have more accurate information as to when equipment needs servicing. This significantly improves the effectiveness and efficiency of all plant equipment and assets, creating a more reliable and efficient plant.

4. Increased Flexibility and Agility While On-Site

Integrating a mobile strategy into an organization’s workflow creates a more flexible and dynamic working environment. Plants can adapt and react to changing demands and customer needs more efficiently as a result of the increased flexibility. With mobile devices, maintenance workers can access work order instructions, equipment hierarchies, part numbers and inventory information from any location, at any time and can make decisions on the spot (e.g. requesting a repair with no time lag). It also makes it easier for teams to collaborate as it facilitates communication regardless of location.

With a more reliable source of truth, managers and supervisors have a real-time view of schedule compliance and backlog trends and can adjust accordingly. A mobility solution helps create a more agile and collaborative environment that makes it easier for organizations to adapt to changing market dynamics.

5. Increase Wrench Time

Another key advantage of a mobile solution is the direct impact on the productivity of teams. Simply by reducing the amount of administrative work, employee productivity is improved. In addition, with the uptick in data quality and historical insights, plants can assign the right number of employees and resources to specific tasks on an as-needed basis and actively measure productivity. Plant managers can optimize productivity, inventory, and costs, and supervisors can work with schedulers to set more accurate times around preventative versus reactive maintenance. Mobility helps to refine and streamline processes, and it reduces the reliance on paper-based processes, including permitting, removing many inefficiencies helping to increase wrench time.

These five core benefits highlight why organizations need to integrate mobility into their digital transformation strategies.

It’s clear that going mobile is no longer optional but a path towards creating a more efficient, safe and productive organization. Mobility helps to digitize, optimize, and automate processes and eliminates many inefficiencies that increase wrench time.

Mobile plant maintenance solutions are transforming how organizations manage and monitor assets; every heavy-asset organization undertaking a digital transformation must make mobility a core pillar.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Contractor, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractors, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

Maintenance Backlog: Use a Priority Index

What is the Maintenance Backlog?

The maintenance backlog is an incredibly important part of the overall maintenance process. In essence, the backlog is all the maintenance work that has been approved but has not yet been completed. A completed work order, by this definition, cannot be part of the backlog. This does not mean that the work orders in the backlog are solely reactive maintenance. Your backlog can easily include preventive or even predictive maintenance activities.

Managing the maintenance backlog is vital for determining how work orders will be prioritized to assure the greatest possible uptime for all physical assets. This is especially true in the case of assets that are critical to production, but it really applies to all the equipment and machinery under your charge. Properly managing the maintenance backlog requires you to sort and filter the work that must be done. The primary reason, of course, is to ensure that critical assets do not break down. A secondary reason is to prevent work orders that aren’t ready from entering the scheduling funnel.

Complete Work Orders Only

A work order that’s missing any vital information should never make its way to the maintenance crew. Exactly what is considered “vital” will vary significantly from organization to organization, but it’s hard to imagine a work order that wouldn’t at least include the name and location of the asset, a description of the problem and the scope of work needed to rectify it, any parts or tools required, health and safety information, the various dates the order was filed, expected to be completed, and so on. It would also usually include the names and departments of the people requesting the work, how long the work should take to complete, and the work order’s relative priority.

From this, we can see that a large part of properly managing the backlog lies in ensuring that only accurate and complete work orders should make their way into scheduling.

You should also know that there’s another definition of backlog that crops up occasionally, viewing it as the collection of work orders that are overdue. Thinking of the backlog this way may lead you into trouble.

Don Armstrong of Veleda Services, sums up the issue: “The second definition is that a “backlog” is just those work orders that have passed their “required by” date. This definition should not be used because it is not logical. Most maintenance departments have a reasonably fixed number of tradespeople who perform work from work orders generated more or less at random.”

“When a work order is initiated, the date on which the work will be completed depends on its importance relative to the work already in the backlog, which is known, and also the work orders that will be generated in the future, which are unknown. The result is that any “required by” date assigned when a work order is initiated will be just a wild guess and usually wrong. Assigning a “required by” date should be limited to those few work orders that have a genuine deadline. Otherwise, these dates will be in conflict with the objective of always working on those jobs that have the greatest value at any time.”

Set Your Priorities

Using the above definition of backlog interferes with prioritization. Work requests should be dealt with in accordance with how important they are to continued operations. We’re not going to say that due dates are meaningless. There is usually some reason why the due date was assigned in the first place. However, completing work by a particular date should never take precedence over prioritization and criticality.

You will never have infinite resources to accomplish the work that needs to be done. In its simplest terms, the maintenance department needs to focus on the tasks that provide the greatest return. Doing this effectively relies on efficient planning, scheduling, and prioritization of maintenance activities.

Determine Criticality

First come, first served is a good way to run a lunch counter and a terrible way to plan maintenance activities. A high-priority job on a critical asset should naturally take precedence over low-priority work on a less critical asset.

Creating a priority index is a relatively simple process. Briefly, you assign a criticality number from 1 to 100 to every piece of equipment, with higher numbers indicating that the asset is more critical. Run through the process again, but this time assigning priority to work orders. Again, the higher the number, the higher the priority.

         Priority Index = Asset Criticality x Work Order Priority

Now multiply the asset criticality score by the work order priority score. The result is the priority index. Now you can schedule work by priority index, secure in the knowledge that resources are going towards the most important work.

It is essential to confer with operations when determining your priority index. At the very least, have a member of the operations team look over your asset criticality index and see if they agree with your rankings. If there are differences, alter your criticality assessments as needed to line up with operations.

You will also need to examine all existing work requests. Watch out for duplicate work requests, work orders that may have already been completed, and work orders that are missing vital information. You will need to remove all of these from the backlog for now. A work order can be moved back into the backlog once all the required information has been gathered.

Once you have your priority index in place and you’ve cleared all the work orders that don’t have enough information, you should be ready to move on to planning and scheduling the work orders that are ready for processing.

Planning and scheduling the work are obviously very important parts of managing the maintenance backlog, but the topics are too complicated to go into here.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Industrial Solutions, Contractor, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

6 Keys to Creating New Maintenance Budgets

The task of creating maintenance budgets is both exciting and challenging. On one hand, there’s the excitement of forging a path for the year ahead and thinking of all the great things the team will accomplish. On the other hand, there’s the terror of wondering if you’ve missed something critical, or that emergencies will arise that the budget just doesn’t cover.

Creating maintenance budgets is especially difficult when the budget is not made intelligently or with the proper background information.

Anyone working in an asset-intensive organization will know that maintenance budgets commonly suffer from these issues. Asset details and cost history are often lacking or unavailable, making it almost impossible for an accurate maintenance budget to be created and followed.

Guesswork when creating maintenance budgets usually means the budget will not be as useful a guide for the department as it could be. It’s an inverse relationship: the more guesswork you rely on, the less useful the budget will be. It also undermines maintenance’s credibility with other departments, especially finance and operations.

Conversely, reducing the amount of guesswork you need to use when creating your budgets will make your budgets more accurate and raise credibility with other departments.

Creating maintenance budgets offers you two challenges and four key opportunities. It is not guaranteed that simply keeping these in mind when creating your budget will make it completely accurate, but it will definitely be more accurate than it would be if you had ignored them.

Challenges of a Maintenance Budget

There are two major challenges that arise when trying to create a maintenance budget. The first is simply a lack of accurate data. The second can be viewed as a language barrier between departments.

1. Insufficient Historical Maintenance Data

An accurate maintenance budget cannot be made without data. When maintenance teams are missing key information relating to asset history and reliability, they are forced to guess their future requirements.

When the unexpected occurs, maintenance teams will tackle the breakdown at whatever cost to get the equipment back online and production up and running. This results in necessary changes to the budget in the best-case scenario. The worst case scenario requires the team to go over budget.

Decisions may be rushed and unsupported when there is insufficient or inaccessible data. A lack of data also often constrains the ability to collaborate or negotiate. Most important, not having the right information makes it hard to identify and correct the root cause of the issues. This creates tremendous challenges for creating maintenance budgets.

2. Language Differences Between Departments

The needs and language of the maintenance team differ significantly from that of the finance team. Where maintenance needs operational and asset-centric data, the finance team needs account-orientated, general ledger-centric information.

On the maintenance side, asset details that support objective budgeting include:

  • Equipment criticality
  • Maintenance history
  • Failure data
  • Work order details and history
  • Bill of materials

This information is critical for maintenance teams to create an accurate budget, but none of it is necessary or important to finance teams who require forecasted costs summarized into the corporate chart of accounts.

This means maintenance teams are tasked with creating a budget in terms and with details they need and understand and then translating it to meet the requirements of the finance team.

When maintenance budgets are not developed at the maintainable asset level, the forecast figures required by the finance team will be purely conjectural and high-level. Similarly, when budget adjustments are requested, there is little to no rational basis on which to make decisions.

While these are the two primary challenges in creating a maintenance budget, there are other challenges that may arise.

Accurate and Intelligent Maintenance Budgets Matter

The opportunities surrounding maintenance budgets lie in getting better asset and cost data from which to extract meaningful information and making decisions that improve the stability, predictability, and consistency of the equipment.

3. Maintenance is a Controllable Cost

In asset-intensive industries, maintenance is often seen as a major cost center. Identifying waste, inefficiencies and the cause of unreliability, and finding ways to prevent or control those cost items over time, makes it possible to improve overall execution and gain a competitive advantage.

It becomes easier to accurately plan maintenance costs when maintenance budgets are built intelligently, with historical equipment data. It also helps to avoid the need to go over budget when breakdowns do occur.

4. Maintenance Budgets Drive Reliability Engineering

Maintenance budgeting is a foundational element driving equipment reliability. When managing costs in accordance with a budget, the variances will become evident as the work is executed. Better data and analytics allow organizations to determine where those issues are arising and why.

Poor asset performance can be analyzed to determine the root cause of the issue so that better decisions can be made the next time, and good asset performance can be leveraged. When there is visibility into repeat problems, solutions can be found that mitigate and avoid future failures or deliver repairs at a lower cost.

5. Maintenance Budgets Reflect Knowledge and Experience

Maintenance budgets are dependent on knowledge and experience. Real-time access to historical asset and cost information simplifies the ability to make risk-based decisions.

Budgets formed through guesswork do not support risk-based decisions or reliability engineering. Good data is required in order to weigh the costs and benefits of each approach and how to prioritize the improvements.

6. Improved Budget Credibility and Negotiation

Accuracy in creating maintenance budgets makes it easier for maintenance teams to justify budgets based on the latest maintenance plans and forecasts. When push-back on a budget item occurs, the ability to drill down to the details will encourage a collaborative, risk-based decision, so that there will be fewer surprises and less finger-pointing when a break down occurs.

Your maintenance budget is an important part of your maintenance plan. It should be created with the best data and information available to ensure controlled maintenance costs, drive reliability engineering, reflect knowledge and experience, and improve credibility and negotiation. Get started on the right foot with an intelligently built and easily understood maintenance budget.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Industrial Contractors, Industrial Solutions, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

3 Trends Dominating the Maintenance Industry

Here are some of the biggest trends in the maintenance industry.

1) Digital Transformation is at the front of business minds.

All asset-intensive industries are facing disruptive challenges from digital transformation. The imperatives of asset management have not changed – teams still need to balance cost, risk, and performance while also increasing efficiency, using capital expenditures optimally, avoiding incidents, and coping with revenue objectives and ever-evolving regulatory and compliance challenges. What has changed is the need to manage and utilize the overwhelming amount of asset data being generated every day.

This data poses multiple challenges but also represents a wealth of opportunity that can transform asset management in ways that help companies get more value from their assets.

2) Mobility is changing the way organizations do business.

Innovations in mobility solutions are hitting home with maintenance teams. Mobile technology has transformed modern-day asset management by supporting organizations in maintenance, technician productivity and information collection, storage, and sharing. Technicians benefit from the ability to use mobile devices where they spend the majority of their time – at the equipment they are maintaining and repairing. Mobile solutions allow technicians to access maintenance data at a moment’s notice, track and record the work they have been doing, and report on equipment more frequently and with higher accuracy.

Without a mobile solution, technicians are only connected to their EAM system by paperwork. Every action taken by a technician throughout the day relies on paper forms and require extensive manual database entry. Asset data is entered manually, often hours after work is complete and based on handwritten notes; resulting in ineffective work and inaccuracies in the data.

Key benefits of implementing a mobile solution include:

  • Increased availability of equipment data and work order history
  • Real-time access to EAM systems
  • Improved data integrity and quality with access to data entry points where the work is happening, at the asset.
  • Accurate visibility of field activities to the back office
  • Immediate availability of asset health data
  • Elimination of manual, paper-based processes

3) Regardless of the change, change management is, and always will be, a key consideration.

Whether your organization is implementing an ERP system, upgrading the existing systems, or implementing a new bolt-on software solution for additional functionality, change management must be taken into account. Organizations need to ensure they have a plan of action for both the implementation of the software, and the training and adoption of the new program.

The change itself is not always the issue, but the way in which the change is presented can pose challenges. Include your team in the decisions and the processes from the beginning to increase the chances of buy-in and to improve user adoption. Allowing your team to take baby steps towards a change can help to increase the likelihood of a successful adoption of new systems and processes. For example, If you have just implemented a new mobile solution, allowing technicians to carry a paperwork order as well as the new mobile device, until they are comfortable with the device, can ease the transition.

Change management is a challenging part of the implementation process. However, having a plan for change management is imperative in order for organizations to realize the ROI promised by new software or processes. Your organization likely spent a significant amount of time and money determining how and when to implement the new software, so be sure they are also taking the time required to build a change management and adoption strategy. Having a strong, well-thought-out implementation process and aligned staff is key to the success of the new software or process.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractors, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

EAM and Predictive Maintenance Strategies

In recent years, predictive maintenance strategies has been widely discussed among asset intensive organizations. Now more than ever, continuous production and equipment uptime is critical for an organization’s overall success. As a result, there has been a growing trend towards predictive maintenance strategies as a means to prevent disruptions in equipment uptime.

With the rise in this trend, comes a need for organizations to integrate predictive maintenance into their currently existing procedures and systems, including their Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) applications.

Historical Trends & Predictive Maintenance Strategies

At present, EAM applications collect maintenance history on assets which can be  analyzed for historical trends.  These trends can then be used to predict when a future  failure is likely to occur. As a result, preventive inspections or proactive replacements  can be scheduled to prevent the anticipated failures.

Real-time Data

Accessing real-time operational information (i.e. temperatures, pressures, vibration readings, etc.) can enable predictive analysis and, when integrated with your EAM application, can notify Maintenance Personnel when suspect readings are found.

Asset Meter Readings

How do industry leaders penetrate the sometimes-complex predictive maintenance domain?  One entry level integration to operational systems is the collection of asset meter readings. Preventive Maintenance work orders can then be more accurately scheduled based on these actual readings.


An example of a more advanced integration is tracking equipment downtime and predicting downtime events.  Equipment downtime that leads to production loss is a key performance indicator used by many companies.  Management asks, ‘Are production losses caused by operational downtime or downtime related to asset maintenance?’.  This question provides many hours of lively conversation in morning production meetings around the globe.  Industry leaders recognize the positive impact of sharing this information with the Maintenance organization.  Benefits are magnified if the information is being shared in real-time.

Mobilizing Personnel

Industry leaders utilize EAM Applications that receive information from operational systems to notify maintenance technicians and operations personnel that a maintenance issue may be imminent.  At the same time the EAM Application creates the maintenance work order, with the supporting documentation required to mobilize personnel and materials to address the predicted issue.  An important design feature of the operational integration with EAM is to not only identify issues but also to filter out the equipment downtime conditions that do not require maintenance personnel.

Overall, current EAM applications can receive and act on predictive data.  With the onset of IIoT strategies and products, we now have a means to enable collection of conditional predictive data and utilize the established integration with EAM applications to enable enterprise-wide sharing of this high-value information.  Leading businesses will embrace predictive data management and share the information in real-time with their Maintenance Organization.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractors, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

11 Disadvantages of a Reactive Maintenance Program

Reactive Maintenance is defined as a strategy of repairing parts or equipment only after the asset has broken down or been run to the point of failure.

It can be an appealing process because it seemingly offers the maximum utilization and in turn maximum production output, of the asset by using it to its limits. This strategy is only beneficial, however, up until the point where the asset fails. Preventing failures of assets under load, however, has been proven to be far more cost effective with the same production output.

It is a widely accepted industry fact that a well-planned and scheduled corrective Work Order is about three to four times less expensive than the same unplanned reactive Work Order.

Organizations utilizing this reactive maintenance strategy/approach often fall victim to treating the asset symptom, rather than the problem causing the symptom.

When maintenance moves from a reactive to a planned environment, there is less wasted time and effort looking for the right part and getting instructions. As a result, there is less confusion around who is doing what and when. Also, the repairs can be coordinated with production resulting in quicker turnarounds since the assets will not be under load when the repair starts.

Imagine the craft productivity that could be attained if your technicians go straight to the job and straight to work, rather than spending the first hour or two searching for a plan of action or having production clearing out the equipment before work can start.

1. Difficult to control budgets

As equipment failures can be unpredictable, labor and spare parts may not be readily available, so organizations may end up paying a premium for emergency parts shipping, travel time and out of hours support.  It is therefore difficult to accurately budget for maintenance and to provide proper forecasts of when budgets will be spent.

2. Shorter life expectancies of assets

Reactive maintenance does not keep the systems running in optimal “as new” condition. Over time, systems that have been maintained reactively, deteriorate faster due to related induced failures and therefore do not maximize their initial capital cost investment. This negatively impacts a company’s RONA (Return on Net Assets) which in return reduces shareholder value.

3. Safety issues

When work is properly scheduled, technicians have time to review the standard procedures and safety requirements to complete the job correctly. Technicians tend to take more risks when maintenance work is reactive as they are under pressure to get systems running without delay. Most companies have Safety and Health as one of their strategic objectives and a reactive / breakdown approach goes directly against this objective.

4. Time-consuming

Reactive repairs tend to take longer due to several factors including time to diagnose, travel time, time to pull parts from stores or submitting emergency orders, time to pull correct manuals and schematics… etc.  This, therefore, impacts the ability of the production teams to achieve their production targets and depending on which equipment fails can have a negative impact on revenue.

5. Sporadic equipment downtime

Planned maintenance can be written into the production schedule whereas unplanned repairs can happen anytime. Also, there is the uncertainty around the length of delay due to the unplanned repair.  Equipment that often/sporadically breaks down reduces the trust between maintenance and production.

6. Inefficient use of resources

Technicians spend time running around looking for the correct manuals and schematics, ordering the right parts, etc. and trying to diagnose and fix the issue. Often, they need to wait for equipment to be cleared and permits to be issued.  In essence, companies pay for their resources (technicians, special tools, equipment, etc.) to be productive and all waiting times comes at a high cost to organizations.

7. Interferes with planned preventive work

Emergency repairs are usually prioritized at the expense of planned preventive work. Planned work may be pushed or canceled completely resulting in future unexpected failures that will result in additional unplanned work and future preventive work being missed. This is what is called the maintenance death spiral.

8. Collateral damage

A minor issue could quickly turn into a major system repair. For example, if your car’s engine is low on oil, it could result in warn cylinders or damage to seals, but ultimately in a completely seized engine.  Or the slight misalignment of a shaft not only damages the bearing but over time can result in a cracked or seized gearbox or even damage to the shaft itself.

9. Indirect costs

Unplanned downtime can lead to late orders if equipment cannot be returned to production in time. This can damage reputations and impact revenues. Persistent non-delivery or late delivery of orders can have the knock-on effect that key customers lose confidence in the organization and may go to other suppliers or demand discounts / raise penalties which can cost the organization millions.

10. Repeat issues

Reactive maintenance does the bare minimum to get the system up and running again, due to the pressure to return the plant back to production. If not repaired correctly soon after the issue could reoccur and cause more downtime. A very negative downward spiral.

11. Higher energy costs

If you don’t service your car, it burns more fuel! When equipment is not properly maintained, it uses more energy. Doing simple things like greasing moving parts or changing filters can reduce energy consumption by up to 15%.

Repairing damaged equipment quickly is important for minimizing downtime. Relying on a reactive maintenance strategy, in most cases, is, therefore, an inefficient and very costly way to operate. Emergency repairs cost as much as 5 to 7 times more than planned preventive work, which can obviously have a huge impact on the bottom line.

Planned and scheduled maintenance leads to an increase in asset reliability and availability, better reporting and measurement, efficiency improvements on all resources, and a reduction in overall maintenance costs. This is due in part to fewer emergency repairs, vendor call-outs, spare parts required, material expedites, and productivity losses.

Reactive work is more expensive because the resource requirement cost cannot be planned properly. Also, one must consider that with planned maintenance, failures might have been avoided.

In the case of failure, parts may need to be rush ordered or, even worse, you must have spare assemblies and or sub-assets in your warehouse; but moreover, it leads to a non-productive cycle of work.

However, there is a point where the law of diminishing returns takes over. Continued increases in planned maintenance eventually reach the point where it becomes too costly. And even with a first-class planned maintenance strategy, it is impossible to avoid the occasional emergency repair.

An ideal maintenance execution model would be an overall ratio of planned/scheduled to reactive maintenance of 80/20. Setting in place solid planning & scheduling to support this objective is key to achieving these returns.

Various tactics may be employed to reach an 80/20 goal. The first consideration is to group your assets based on their criticality and ensure that High Critical Assets are maintained more proactively while low/non-production assets can be maintained more reactively.

A second consideration might be to split the maintenance teams into preventive and reactive crews to handle the different work types. This means the team focused on preventive maintenance can stay focused on preventive maintenance and try isolating issues before they occur. Another possible strategy may be to move certain work activities to a second or third shift, again focusing on specific assets or specific work activities.

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Careers in the industrial field, Renfrow Industrial, Greenville South Carolina

6 Maintenance Planning Principles for Success

Here are some basic principles to ensure that your maintenance planning efforts are built on sound foundations.

These 6 ‘foundational pillars’ of maintenance planning include having a separate department for planners, focusing on future work, maintaining component level files, estimating based on the planners expertise and relying on historical data, recognizing the skill of the crafts, and measuring performance with work samplings.

When all 6 of these foundational aspects are implemented and combined correctly, maintenance planning can attain greater efficiencies. All this leads to important asset related data and information being shared across the plant, and even across multiple plants.

Imagine identifying an issue with a recently failed pump. Now what if you have 50 of these pumps across multiple plants? You can notify the other plants of the issue and address the problem before another failure.

So here is a detailed look at the 6 Maintenance Planning Principles that bring about these mentioned efficiencies.

1. A Separate Department for Planners:

  • Planners are organized into a separate department from the craft maintenance crews. This facilitates specialization in planning and scheduling techniques as well as focus on future work.
    • Planners should not be members of the craft crew for which they plan.
  • Planners should report to a different supervisor than the craft crews–a key best practices indicator. This avoids reassigning a planner to a toolbox.
  • Planners plan work. The crews execute the planned work.

2. Focus on Future Work:

  • Planners should concentrate on future work- the work yet to start. They should provide maintenance for at least one week (3-4 is better) of a backlog that is planned, approved, and ready to execute.
  • The one-week backlog will allow crews to work primarily on planned work.
  • Crew supervisors should handle the current day’s work and problems. The craft technicians or supervisors should resolve any problems that arise after any job begins.
  • Follow the two “Rules of Repetitive Maintenance

“The 50% Rule–if a piece of equipment needs work, there is a 50% chance it will need the similar, if not the same, work within 1 year.”

“The 80% Rule–there is any 80% chance the equipment will be worked on again within a 5 year period”

  • Conclusion: feedback on jobs completed is the path to increased productivity.
    – Feedback should be provided to the planner after each job is completed.
    – Planners should use the feedback to improve future work.
    – Benchmark: 6 months of feedback will make job estimates and costs more accurate.

3. Maintain Component Level Files:

  • Planners should maintain a simple, secure file system based on equipment/asset numbers—Best Practice: individual component level files are to be maintained—not by manufacturer or vendor.
  • This information allows the planners to utilize equipment data and information learned on previous work to prepare and improve work plans, especially on repetitive tasks.
  • Historical information consists of both work order history and equipment databases.
  • The cost history information is of great help in making repair or replace decisions.
  • Supervisors and engineers should be trained to always use these files to gather information they require with minimal planner assistance.

4. Estimate Job Based on Planner Expertise:

  • Planners should use personal experience and information on file to develop work plans that avoid anticipated work delays, quality or safety problems.
  • Planners should ideally be experienced senior level technicians, trained in the appropriate planning disciplines and techniques.
    • Planner training should include specialized techniques: industrial engineering, statistical analysis, etc. on-the-job training and feedback are very effective.
  • Best Practices:
    – Choose from among the best crafts persons for your planners.
    – You can expect to see a department productivity loss for a few months when an experienced crafts person transitions to planner.
  • Payoffs—Simply stated, it is better to have good execution of a proper job plan, rather than perfect execution of the wrong job plan.

5. Recognize the Skills of the Craft:

  • Best Practice: all work should be planned with a minimal level of detail in the job plans. Use some standard plans.
    – You have a choice between highly detailed job plans for minimally skilled crafts or less detailed job plans for highly trained crafts. Choose wisely.
    – You can maintain control over the workforce or empower skilled, knowledgeable people.
  • The planner determines the scope of the work request.
    – This includes clarification of the originator’s intent where necessary.
    – Engineering requirements should be gathered before planning starts.
  • The planner determines the strategy of the work (repair or replace)
    – Planners should identify and attach helpful procedures from their experience, such as files or reference documents, for the technician’s use.
    – Craft technicians should use their expertise to determine how to make a specific repair or replacement.

6. Measure Performance with Work Sampling:

  • Measure how much time technicians actually spend on the job versus other activities such as obtaining parts, waiting for instructions, etc.
  • Wrench time—the proportion of hands-on time a technician spends working per hour–Best Practice: 60%.
  • This gives everyone a measure of how much planning helps “put everyone on their tools in front of a job” instead of doing something else or waiting around.
  • Work planned before assignment will reduce unnecessary delays during jobs. Work that is scheduled reduces delays between jobs.
  • Something that management needs to answer: Is time spent obtaining parts or tools part of the job or is it a delay to be avoided?

Article Provided By: Prometheus Group

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Service, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractor, Electrical, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

7 Maintenance Management Mistakes to Avoid

There are many paradigms and legends surrounding maintenance management in plants. Often, the legends are known to be untrue, but people live with them because it is politically correct, or simply convenient.

To be successful in improving equipment reliability and maintenance management, plants must break the legends and mistakes that exist in their organizations. Some of the mistakes will be addressed in this article. You may find that they are uncomfortably close to describing how your plant operates.

1. Maintenance cost must be reduced quickly

Plants should reduce maintenance cost. But there are many variables that can be affected by lowering the maintenance budget. It is, therefore, important to consider how the cost cut is implemented.

Most of us can cut maintenance costs in any plant in the world very quickly by 40 percent. Simply get rid of some people and stop doing certain maintenance jobs. If you get the opportunity to take a job like this, don’t plan on staying more than a year. The consequences of short-term maintenance management will most likely be devastating to the total cost, and problems will start to show after a year or two due to ill-maintained assets.

Mandating a plant to lower maintenance costs quickly can be compared to asking a hockey team to increase the average number of goals per game from two goals to four without any coaching or guidance. The team can most likely produce four goals per game, if no other variables are considered. Obviously, you want the hockey team to win, not just score four goals per game.

There is a balance between goals scored and goals given up. It is a mystery why many plants don’t pick up on this simple concept of balance. It is not uncommon to see an organization completely focused on cost without considering the total picture.

If you lower the maintenance budget and don’t change other aspects of the business practice, the results will most likely be very poor.

Changes in maintenance cost are interrelated to product quality and production output. A reduction in maintenance cost will not lead to improved quality and production output. But an improvement in equipment reliability will most likely improve production output and quality. Improved quality and production output will reduce maintenance cost.

Maintenance cost cannot be reduced quickly because it takes time to improve equipment reliability. Improved reliability will reduce cost, but reduced cost will not improve reliability.

2. People don’t like change

Most people claim that people don’t like change however, people love change — they just don’t want to be changed by someone else. People are often very receptive to change as long as they are part of the change process. The problem is when a project improvement plan goes through the usual number-crunching, while the involvement of people is often forgotten.

For example, people in the plant typically can identify planning and scheduling improvement opportunities, yet most of us are reactive by nature; people don’t want to work to strict guidelines, such as planning and schedule exactly what to do three days from now. Improving planning and scheduling requires a culture change together with detailed, agreed-upon processes and procedures. Even though people know this, plants sometimes try to improve planning and scheduling by talking over a cup of coffee or, at best, sending a couple of planners on a two-day planning and scheduling course.

Production and operations changes are often 80 to 90 percent dependent on technical solutions including process automation. An equipment reliability and maintenance change initiative is 95 percent dependent on changing peoples’ behavior. Maintenance management must address the issues of involvement and acceptance while encouraging the few enthusiastic souls in a project. Project success can be expressed as R = Q x A x E (Results = quality of actions x acceptance for change x enthusiasm for change).

3. People are the biggest asset

If you work in plant management or as a corporate officer, it is politically correct to say “people are our biggest asset.” Most managers would agree to that statement. Some might say people are not a company’s biggest asset — the right people are a company’s biggest asset, and the wrong people are liabilities.

During a recent seminar for a group of supervisors and craftspeople this statement was confirmed. One of the discussions started with the question, “Isn’t it true that if any given crew in this plant would lose its poorest performing people (about 10 to 20 percent of the total), the loss would hardly be noticed?” After the laughs and pointing had subsided, several people confirmed that there were always a number of people in any given crew who had “never accomplished an honest day’s work.” These people destroy morale and, in some cases, even slow the rest of the crew down.

Maintenance management must deal with underperforming people. If you have a decent relationship with your union or your non-union workforce, they are usually receptive to discussing these matters. Poor performers are a big problem for them as well. It is also true that people cannot be more effective than the system in which they work allows them to be. Management can minimize the amount of wasted time and energy by implementing good maintenance and reliability processes.

4. Having more maintenance people on shift reduces downtime

If you have many problems in your plant, operations typically requests more people on shift to fix the breakdowns. If this is the situation in your plant, you are going down the wrong path.

If you have a multitude of problems in your plant, you need to find out why and fix the source of the problems. What is the solution for your plant? Most likely, you don’t have enough time to repair all equipment problems found in your area, and you don’t always find the problems before a breakdown. So, you need more people, right? In the short run, possibly, but not necessarily. Definitely not in the long run. Here is a checklist of possible problems:

  • Do operators perform detailed equipment inspections? If not, make sure operators know how to inspect a bearing, motor, coupling, hydraulic motor, fluid coupling, etc.
  • Do your maintenance people have detailed inspection lists, take readings and analyze trends in order to identify symptoms on equipment?
  • Do you use your craftspeople by having well-planned jobs for them? Do you schedule maintenance jobs in coordination with operations? By executing high-quality inspections, you can make sure that you know about most symptoms.

5. Maintenance craftspeople can’t be motivated to improve reliability because they make more money when things break down

Maintenance people typically do make more money when things break down. A perceived Catch-22 by maintenance management is that crews can’t be motivated to improve reliability and maintenance because higher equipment reliability will reduce the amount of overtime.

However, the answer to the question goes back to Mistake 3. Only a minor percentage of people don’t contribute as well as others; the rest of us want to be good performers.

The key word is pride. Pride matters more than overtime pay. Pride drives a relatively low-paid U.S. Marine to risk his or her life for months at a time. Pride drives a maintenance crafts person to spend an extra hour or two to align a pump to one-thousandth of an inch even though few will notice.

Maintenance management can instill pride in an organization by developing clear expectations for reliability and maintenance, and by training and supporting people long term in achieving these expectations. For example, develop a clear definition of preventive maintenance and develop an action plan and training initiatives on how to improve inspection routes, lubrication, cleaning practices, operating procedures, alignment and other preventive maintenance practices.

Since money also is a motivator, provide incentive pay for equipment reliability. One of the fastest preventive maintenance program setups is at a car manufacturing plant in Europe that offered its crews (operations and maintenance) a bonus on each percentage over 97 percent line efficiency. The results appeared on reports just weeks after the announcement — the actual equipment reliability improvement probably started hours after the announcement.

6. New computer software will improve reliability and maintenance performance

It is not unusual to see a maintenance organization implement a new CMMS with the hopes that this new computer software will improve plant reliability. In truth, new software can be a great help, but it is only a tool.

If plant performance improves following a software change, it is not the software itself that contributes the majority of improvements. Improvements will be a synthesis of the implementation and execution of better work processes, behavior changes and higher-quality data from the software. The obvious question then becomes, “Can’t the plant improve work processes, behaviors and data quality with the old CMMS?”

Sometimes maintenance software updates become so cumbersome that a plant disregards obvious fundamentals due to work overload. For example, the bill of material for equipment isn’t always up to date in the old system, and it will not be up to date in the new system unless an effort is made to improve the data. It is a common argument that it costs too much to update the bill of materials, yet people accept the cost of having each crafts person use a significant amount of time every day looking for parts.

In some plants, training is reduced to a minimum and often performed several months before the system is put in use. The result is that, at best, about 30 percent of the CMMS functionality is used and that only 30 percent of the people know how to use it effectively. This results in a 9 percent usage of the system.

If your organization is ready to implement a new CMMS, make sure you update the bill of materials, standard job plans, equipment numbering and asset numbering in the old system. Also, ask yourself if you plan and schedule jobs well today. If not, the problem is usually not the software. People will blame the software because it can’t talk back, but the real problems are lack of discipline in backlog management, prioritization issues, and the inability of operations and maintenance to coordinate production and maintenance schedules.

7. Equipment criticality decides inspection frequency

It is common to see plants base component inspection frequency on a criticality analysis study. At first, it may seem sensible to base inspection frequency on criticality of equipment, but let’s illustrate the misconception with an example.

Let’s assume you are setting the inspection frequency for a very simple component such as a bolt. Let’s assume the bolts in question are holding a mechanical seal on a pump. The pump and seal are very critical according to the criticality study. The inspection frequency for the highest criticality score is often recommended to one inspection every shift.

Intuitively, you notice that it doesn’t make any sense to inspect a bolt every shift. Why? Because the inspection frequency must be based on how long, on average, it takes to develop a failure in a component. The bolt in our example will not fail from one shift to another unless there is a completely random event. The most likely failure is that the bolt comes loose over a two- to six-month period. Therefore you should set the inspection frequency according to the Failure Developing Period (FDP), by estimating the FDP, and set the inspection frequency to FDP over two. In this example, it is estimated an FDP of four months and set the inspection frequency to two months.

Article Provided By: Reliable Plant

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractors, Contractor, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

The Age of 5G Manufacturing

How can manufacturers make the most of the pending Intelligence of Things environment?

Smarter sensors are gathering data and are able to transmit bigger amounts at faster speeds. Also, as sensors and devices are getting more intelligent, they can be programmed to make decisions on the spot (Edge Computing) vs. sending data to the cloud and have a central application determine the output or decision. This will lead to quicker response times, which will result in increased safety and efficiency in the manufacturing plants.

  • Discrete manufacturing: As the Intelligence of Machines grows, discrete manufacturing will become more prevalent than batch and process manufacturing. Manufacturers will win based on who can make to stock, make to order and assemble to order. This all requires more planning, data analysis and tracking capabilities which are provided by the intelligence of things. The more complex it is the more valuable it is to create actions around the data gathered.
  • Predictive Maintenance: Operation efficiencies are improved even around batch manufacturing and assembly:
    • This reduces idle time due to repairs required due to break downs. Sensors can analyze multiple signals like sound frequencies, temperature and vibration to determine if a machine has a higher probability of requiring attention and alert operators to machines that require repair or maintenance. This also contributes to the safety of the workers and can alert them to an emergency evacuation before a situation can result in an accident.
  • Inventory & Equipment Tracking: This leads to savings of thousands of man hours and results in increased efficiency and profits

What are the keys to controlling the data costs with 5G IoT for Manufacturing firms?

The key to controlling data costs is to get data scientists to evaluate the data and see what data brings cost savings or efficiencies in solutions. Data is the new Black Gold but if you are gathering data and not using it effectively then you are paying for data transmission and storage and it just becomes white noise and adds no value.

First a complete analysis must be done as to whether the data gathered is relevant and needs to be transmitted to a central location or is it relevant to the local situation only. Edge Computing and smarter devices and sensors are reducing the need for data to be brought to a central cloud to be analyzed.

For example, a sensor for soil moisture level mounted on a sprinkler. It can be a smart device that does not need to transmit data back to a hub for the hub to send a signal to turn on the sprinkler. This can be done more and more locally as devices get smarter.

What things do manufacturers need to consider when trying to save money on data management?

Second is data monitoring. Usage alerts and analysis form a good connectivity platform can help see where the data leakage is happening and if the data is relevant. Drilled down usage by session level is key to good data analysis. This can help identify rogue/ defective devices or software and help solution providers minimize data connectivity and storage costs.

How can manufacturing firms prepare for 5G with IoT and M2M? Mobile Internet and data? NB-IoT?

All of the above are different classifications for terminologies for data and offer different speeds and bandwidth depending on the solution requirement. They can be for data, voice or SMS solutions. Manufacturer’s need to tie up with an experienced connectivity partner that will help them plan and chose the right connectivity modules and devices to most efficiently manage their transition.

What about use of legacy systems/devices with IoT and how to maximize this important aspect?

Legacy systems and devices will eventually become obsolete and connectivity will be lost as carriers shut down the 2G and 3G networks and the companies using them will experience a loss of continuity in operations. It is imperative they create a plan to migrate to 4G LTE with a clear path to 5G or directly to 5G if the solution demands high speeds and high bandwidth. The cost to migrate existing devices and processes can be monumental. Solution Providers need a good connectivity partner that can help them plan and migrate the processes and devices in stages to stay within operational budgets and receive the greatest return on investment.

Article Provided By: Manufacturing Tomorrow

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Industrial, Mechanical, Industrial Solutions, Industrial Contractors, Renfrow Industrial, South Carolina

The Rise of Smart Data in Manufacturing

But what is smart data, and why is it so significant in the manufacturing world right now?

What Is Smart Data?

Smart data and smart data analytics are major components of Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Digitization enables the capture and transmission of data between processes and personnel across the modern manufacturing environment.

Data typically follows a path along these lines as it travels through a smart factory:

  • Data collection: Sensors throughout facilities and onboard vehicles collect data on equipment condition, workforce productivity and workflow metrics, such as pace and defect rates.
  • Data organization: Information technology (IT) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms capture and organize this incoming data to draw insights, usually with the help of machine learning to automate the process.
  • Data utilization: Decision-makers use this organized data to plan equipment maintenance and upgrade cycles, make workforce adjustments, anticipate delays or demand, synchronize with partners or other plants and fine-tune their energy consumption.

If you’re connecting the dots, you can see smart data allows a higher level of virtual integration between the factory floor and the C-suite, the supply chain and business partners like vendors and distributors. Smart data is detailed, plentiful, real-time and, most importantly, actionable. It provides intel to help all the parts of the modern industry work better together.

Let’s look at some practical ways the rise of smart data is positively impacting the manufacturing sector.

Realizing the Benefits of Smart Data for Manufacturing

Manufacturers must become more agile if they wish to remain competitive. Companies must produce a variety of increasingly sophisticated products for numerous audiences, all while under tightening regulatory and consumer expectations. Then, they must get them to end-users as quickly as possible in an ever-more-complicated world.

Smart data unlocks the productivity, efficiency and equipment reliability manufacturers require to meet these ever-higher expectations. According to analysts, the advantage and head start enjoyed by the world’s top manufacturing performers is dissolving. A big part of the reason for this is that technology has democratized the industry and nearly leveled the playing field for smaller competitors.

Specifically, smart data provides the following opportunities for manufacturers:

1. Better Product Quality and Defect Management

Manufacturers can leverage their historical defect and quality assurance (QA) data to train machine vision stations to carry out product inspections. Machine vision isn’t susceptible to fatigue after long shifts and is more accurate than human QA personnel.

Better still, adopting automated inspection can upskill rather than displace the human workforce. It’s an answer to high defect rates and low numbers of skilled applicants, not to mention an additional layer of protection against problematic products, recalls and reputational fallout.

2. More Effective Maintenance and Longer Machine Life

Downtime after equipment failure is costly in any type of manufacturing environment. In the automotive sector, the cost of downtime can run as high as $22,000 per minute for every machine that’s out of commission.

In a smart factory, sensors on production equipment feed data on the machine’s operation — including energy used, sound and vibration and takt time elapsed — into algorithms. These smart systems compare the real-time performance of machines and components against benchmarks, thereby predicting when failure is likely or pinning down the optimal time to perform maintenance or replace parts.

The result is a more effective equipment budget, longer-lasting assets and far less worry about unforeseen downtime impacting profitability.

3. Fine-Tuned Workflows

Automated and manual manufacturing, assembly and material handling equipment can yield valuable process data. This data helps decision-makers and stakeholders make more targeted, specific and effective decisions concerning personnel, investments and workflow design.

Access to enterprise-wide smart data shows which processes experience bottlenecks, when they occur and why. It can uncover opportunities as well as hidden, specific and impactful problems, such as poor synergy between two departments during a shift, or a particular freight company that’s delivering materials later and later each month.

Just like monitoring a piece of equipment for parts failure, monitoring processing times, throughput and other “human” metrics shows which parts of the process no longer suit the application.

4. Improved Design and Circular Economy

If you’re not already familiar with the concept of a circular economy, you soon will be. This is an economic model for the future that prioritizes long-lasting products, sustainability and a healthy third- and first-party marketplace for secondhand, refurbished, recycled or otherwise reused products.

Even at the component level, complex products like powered equipment and electronics generate a considerable amount of data on how a product is used and what conditions it must withstand in the field to perform well.

Some major manufacturers, including Philips, have received recognition for their efforts in building this circular economy. Using product and customer data in this way improves merchandise longevity, keeps raw materials in the earth, generates brand loyalty among eco-conscious consumers and builds robust marketplaces for refurbished products. Each of these factors reduces the pervasive problem of e-waste and the conflict and exploitation surrounding the mining of precious metals and other resources.

5. Enhanced Energy Usage and Sustainability

Finally, smart data and smart machines pave the way to smart energy usage. Smart machines provide detailed telemetry on how much energy each department within a facility uses and when they tend to use it. Industrial activity consumes some 54%of delivered electricity across the globe, making this an ideal time to manage supply and demand using smart data.

Anything that uses motors or pumps or manipulates temperatures, including heating, refrigeration, washing, mixing, processing and material handling processes, consumes considerable energy. Smart factories spot which machines use more energy over time, a factor which might signify impending component failure.

They also pinpoint periods where energy is being used and paid for unnecessarily, plus opportunities for fine-tuning the performance or runtime of major equipment or infrastructure.

With all of these clear benefits, interest in smart data and the Internet of Things (IoT) among manufacturers is set to explode in the coming years. Between 2017 and 2022, analysts expect the manufacturing IoT market to grow by 29% per year and reach $45.3 billion in value.

A Booming Market for Smart Data in Manufacturing

Given the competitive advantages we’ve been exploring, it’s easy to see why smart data is growing exponentially in manufacturing. Companies that invest in smart data infrastructure today will be more flexible and competitive tomorrow and better able to remain stable in a world that’s anything but.

Article Provided By: Manufacturing Tomorrow

If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email info@renfrowindustrial.com.

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