Latest from Issues and Ideas

Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime
Two factory engineers operating a machine, with a clipboard.

5 Must-Haves for Your Maintenance Checklist

March 18, 2022
Proactive maintenance is the ideal for most manufacturing machines – but there are some practices that characterize organizations seeking to extend equipment longevity and ensure reliability.

For any manufacturing organization using various types of process machinery it is critical to ensure that these systems last longer, work reliably, and perform the tasks they are meant to do without interruption. All of this, and more, are possible with effective maintenance management. While there are different approaches to maintenance management, for most manufacturing machinery proactive maintenance is the ideal. That being said, let’s look at the other activities that will be found on the maintenance checklists of organizations seeking to extend equipment longevity and ensure reliability.

1. Detecting potential equipment problems beforehand.

Ensuring maintenance management is just the starting point: several factors can make or break it. As mentioned, proactive maintenance approaches are the best ones, though many organizations are still applying reactive maintenance: The manufacturing equipment receives maintenance only after it malfunctions or breaks down – or worse.

Reactive maintenance consists basically of repairs (which take place after problems), preventive maintenance is entirely the opposite. Not only does PM ensure that the equipment is getting the required maintenance in time but it also identifies underlying problems in advance, via inspections.

Thus, conducting inspections is on the maintenance checklist of organizations that want their assets to last longer. Inspections are regular maintenance activities and help identify whether parts need premature replacement, vents need to be cleaned, etc., and determines if machinery is being overexerted, or if there are other hidden problems.

2. Reducing bottlenecks.

Bottlenecks are harmful to any manufacturing plant and can severely hamper the production process. However, one might wonder whether bottlenecks are the responsibility of the maintenance team.

While the straight answer is no, bottlenecks also arise from malfunctioning, broken, or problematic equipment – all of which are a maintenance team’s responsibility.

For instance, a manufacturing plant is using a conveyor belt that, after considerable use requires replacement for one of its carry rollers. If this isn’t addressed soon the entire conveyor belt could be malfunctioning, as a part of the machine is already worn out. Either a new belt will be needed or the existing one would be reused, but as it’s malfunctioning the latter approach will not  be efficient – making it a bottleneck in the entire process.

Thus, minimizing such small problems before they become bottlenecks is on the maintenance checklist for asset-intensive organizations. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conducting inspections.

Maintenance managers can easily schedule inspections for critical equipment that help identify both existing and potential problems. If there’s no problem … great! … but if there is a problem the maintenance team can address it effectively and promptly.

3. Streamlining PM tasks.

Preventive maintenance is efficient and effective as long as it’s optimized. Organizations that have not used preventive maintenance before may under-optimize or overoptimize on the first go, and that’s not a bad thing.

To explain: No preventive maintenance plan is perfect, and if an organization is new to the method it will need to tweak the plan to get it right – including the preventive maintenance tasks.

There are several guidelines and recommendations available for optimizing maintenance tasks for a specific machine, but all this depends on how an organization uses the machine. Drawing upon a combination of previous work history, usage patterns, OEM’s guidelines, expert opinions from credible forums, and a CMMS software solution, an organization can effectively optimize PM tasks without fear of overdoing them.

Certainly, some tweaks may be required in the future, because every organization is different and so are the machinery use cases. Others’ practices might be taken as references and mustn't be copied entirely, unless the primary organization can ascertain that each one using identical equipment for the same amount of time and in the exact same way.

4. Making use of unplanned outages.

A constant concern of maintenance teams is a maintenance backlog that keeps on growing. Responsible maintenance managers do not just worry about it – they take action to reduce the backlog whenever possible.

For instance, maintenance managers can use unplanned outages to work on the maintenance backlog. Outages typically take a long time, and if the maintenance team has time available some of them can be assigned to work on activities in the maintenance backlog. The maintenance manager can plan and schedule emergency tasks according to outages.

5. Using a mix of maintenance processes.

While preventive maintenance is one of the most balanced maintenance strategies, not all pieces of equipment require preventive maintenance. For instance, machinery reaching the end of its service life, lighting systems, etc. can make do with reactive maintenance.

Thus, organizations must ensure that they are using a combination of maintenance approaches rather than relying on a single one to optimize costs and make effective use of resources.

Salman Rashid is the senior digital marketing analyst at M2SYS Technology, a provider of biometric identity management software and hardware, along with enterprise software applications.