4 steps to achieve an optimal maintenance management

  • Michael Reutter
  • Service & maintenance

How you can use maintenance management productively to solve common problems and thus make your production more efficient.

Industrial production has been undergoing change for years and the demands on employees have changed. As production efficiency increases, the focus is on increasingly complex machines and systems. The degree of automation is increasing, and fewer and fewer machine operators are needed to operate more and more machines. As downtimes and non-operated plants cause high costs due to shorter delivery times (just-in-sequence), and possible reasons for failures and weak points increase due to the higher complexity, this increases the relevance of maintenance.
In order to optimize not only production efficiency but also cost efficiency and to reduce downtimes and changeover times, the maintenance management has the task of designing these processes optimally. To keep this complexity under control it is important to know the most important challenges and stumbling blocks.

The common problems of maintenance management and the possible measures against them are explained below in 4 steps:

Mobile distribution and acceptance of tasks

Maintenance staff often visit several halls throughout the plant to carry out service, repair and maintenance work. Since every minute counts in critical moments, it is important to contact the available maintenance person with the best profile for the problem.
However, since maintenance personnel are often called upon for personal preferences and sympathies rather than their suitability for the task or their current location, their efficiency is diminished by these unnecessary walking distances and coordination.
In addition, specialised maintenance staff have the problem that they are called in to deal with even the smallest problems in their field, even if fewer qualified staff could deal with them.
The maintenance team must be mobile and able to organize itself and distribute orders. Unnecessary telephone calls must be avoided so that coordination and the distribution of tasks among the team members works.

In the event of sudden fault messages, the right maintenance personnel must be notified so that they can react immediately. In addition, coordination should be as direct as possible. Tasks must be distributed according to the profile, availability and location of the maintenance personnel.

Precise documentation of activities

Writing maintenance and service reports takes a lot of time and is therefore usually done late or more often at the end of a shift. However, precise documentation is important. On the one hand, companies are legally obliged to provide documentation on regular maintenance work, e.g. for liability in the event of an accident. On the other hand, the status and condition of operating equipment becomes unclear without sufficient documentation. In addition, the information collected on e.g. maintenance intervals and error frequencies allows correlations to be derived that offer significant added value for maintenance personnel. From documentation with exact time specifications, causes of errors and spare parts used, exact analysis can often reveal undiscovered error sources and make it easier to determine the maintenance budget.

For this reason, precise documentation is important in order to get an overview of costs and materials used in maintenance work, among other things, and to use this information to increase productivity.

Gathering and using information

In addition to the information from the documentation, much more information can be collected that is useful for maintenance. Machines, plants and their sensors permanently record data that can be processed and used. From this collected data, correlations with relevance for maintenance can be recorded. Temperature differences, noise, vibrations, spare part ordering cycles and downtimes etc. can be used to react faster in case of malfunction and to contact the required persons directly. Malfunctions which, for example: Ejecting readings with decreasing air pressure indicates hydraulic problems and eliminates the need to call electrical maintenance personnel. In order to operate maintenance management productively, it is necessary to use such possibilities effectively.

A great deal of information about the condition of plants can be read from machine data. This information can be used to carry out maintenance more effectively, to react faster in the event of malfunctions or to prevent breakdowns.

Strategy and looking towards the future

The most expensive type of maintenance is reactive maintenance. This is used when the production process or a machine has already come to a standstill. Costly downtimes, which can increase due to delivery times of spare parts, must therefore be avoided at all costs. Maintenance personnel only react when it is too late. Since unplanned malfunctions and machine breakdowns can probably never be completely ruled out, you should nevertheless make every effort to keep them as low as possible by carrying out regular repairs. In addition, a maintenance model should be chosen that is adapted to the individual requirements of your own production and operating conditions.
Whether you choose Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Predictive Maintenance, or another system is primarily irrelevant for optimizing maintenance management. It is important that with the help of these models the condition of your machines and resources is clear, also for budgeting of maintenance processes and resources, and that in case of a malfunction the appropriate personnel is effectively informed.
Rather, it becomes the core task of maintenance to increase plant availability, production output and product quality, to further develop key technologies and to adapt flexibly to market requirements and thus to the production program.

The choice of an appropriate maintenance model helps to prevent costly maintenance and to get a better overview of operating resources. In addition, the focus of maintenance staff will in future be more on optimizing production by integrating new technologies.

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