In any modern manufacturing facility the equipment used requires a level of maintenance to ensure that the manufacturing process is not disrupted and the production plan can be achieved. In some industries, especially those using continuous production, the plant would shut down for annual maintenance, where equipment is repaired and critical components replaced. World class organizations spend time and resources on maintaining their equipment as it is more effective to have a preventative maintenance plan than repair or replace equipment when it fails.
There are a number of plant maintenance processes that are employed by successful organizations.
This type of maintenance procedure is used in companies that do not employ a preventative maintenance program. In its simplest form, a company will not perform maintenance on a piece of equipment until a failure occurs. When this happens the plant maintenance department will then perform work on the item to either repair it so that it can be placed back into service or replace the piece of equipment if it cannot be repaired or requires maintenance that would cause significant delays to the production schedule.
Companies that use a preventative maintenance will plan regular maintenance inspections so that any issues that may occur with a piece of equipment can be identified before a critical failure occurs. Preventative maintenance also ensures that critical parts are replaced before they fail and consumable items, such as oil and lubricants, are changed regularly.
Some companies use predictive maintenance to maintain their equipment. Predictive maintenance helps companies determine the condition of their equipment so that they can predict when maintenance should be performed. This method can be a considerable cost saving over preventive maintenance as it allows maintenance departments to perform work on equipment only when they believe it is needed rather than on a set schedule. This procedure is also known as condition-based maintenance as a company can employ conditioning monitoring which uses non-destructive testing, such as infrared, vibration analysis and sound analysis.
Depending on the industry, production processes and size of the business, the type of plant maintenance used can vary from company to company. But one maintenance strategy, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), has become increasingly popular. TPM is a manufacturing led initiative that emphasizes the continuous improvement philosophy and the importance of production and maintenance staff working together.
As customer satisfaction becomes the primary differentiator, companies are increasingly sensitive to meeting customer’s delivery dates. Adhering to the production schedule is extremely important and maintenance of equipment has become an integral part of the manufacturing process. By ensuring production and maintenance staff work together, the company should find that equipment issues are reported earlier and production delays are avoided.
Companies that have introduced TPM have seen a number of benefits including a better understanding of the performance of their equipment, improved co-operation between manufacturing and plant maintenance staff, reduced maintenance costs and extended life of manufacturing equipment.