When most people think of maintenance, they imagine people fixing equipment that’s broken and keeping facilities in working order. The term “maintenance” itself is deceiving, because it leads us to believe the job of maintenance is simply to keep operations running as they are. Because of this perception, maintenance departments are usually seen as cost centers when they should actually be utilized as core business drivers.
Effective maintenance is not simply upholding the status quo. Because technology is evolving so quickly, maintenance processes must continuously become faster, more accurate and more efficient. Engineering and innovating these processes means businesses can use maintenance to grow and scale production. When viewed this way, maintenance is actually about expansion and evolution beyond the status quo.
If society shifts its preconceived and limiting ideas about maintenance, businesses will follow and everyone will benefit. The truth is that maintenance workers have a unique opportunity to improve manufacturing production, quality and safety. It’s quite possible that “maintenance” is now an antiquated term (as it pertains to industry) and should be renamed “improvement.”
Here are three ways maintenance workers are able to proactively improve the world with modern technology.
1. They increase lifetime.
Maintenance workers can drive true return on investment (ROI) for manufacturers by extending a piece of equipment’s lifetime by many years. If a piece of equipment’s lifetime were extended from 10 to 15 years, for example, this would ultimately save 50% of that equipment’s cost. When a piece of machinery costs millions of dollars, extending its lifetime by 50% could be crucial for companies whose biggest expense is their upfront investment.
There may be constant pressure and temptation for businesses to upgrade to new equipment instead of better maintaining the equipment they already have. But new equipment comes with the risk of all sorts of unanticipated problems that could actually curtail productivity by directing time and money into a never ending pursuit of attaining the latest and greatest, without establishing a truly reliable workflow.
2. They reduce downtime.
Every manufacturing facility depends on planned maintenance and breakdown maintenance, which are both influenced by variables such as shift changes, weekends, holidays and lunch breaks. There are multiple metrics used to track how these factors influence equipment’s downtime vs. uptime; one of the most important and comprehensive is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), which is a measure of how well a facility fulfills its output potential during the time it’s scheduled to run.
It’s difficult for a modern manufacturing facility to thoroughly track these metrics with just paper and pencil. But workers who are trained to use digital maintenance technology can make the difference between running a manufacturing line at 15 feet per minute and 20 feet per minute. Today’s software can help maintenance workers monitor scheduled and unscheduled breakdowns as well as the average time of repair. Equipment sensors and push notifications instantly send and receive support requests that dramatically reduce downtime by streamlining communication between members of a maintenance team.
3. They boost productivity.
Communication flow is one of the biggest factors influencing productivity. Too many work processes waste time going back and forth. For example, if a manufacturing facility experiences the breakdown of an HVAC unit, the first thing maintenance has to understand is why the HVAC unit broke down by determining what action was previously performed on that piece of equipment. If there isn’t a detailed and up-to-date log of that HVAC’s history, then maintenance has to waste time following an often incomplete paper trail and surveying individual workers to obtain information that could be almost instantly retrieved from a digital audit history.
But when there’s a central archive of repair data, it doesn’t matter if the person responsible for repairing a machine is the same person who repaired it before. The entire maintenance department can act as one organizational brain that’s updated in real time.
Investing in digital maintenance technology is one of the best ways – if not the best way – for manufacturers to maximize ROI. And while implementing this technology relies heavily on data and metrics, it must be preceded by a shift in the way business leaders (and society as a whole) conceptualize maintenance.
Article Provided By: Forbes