The first thing we think of when we say maintenance is often the maintenance technician who replaces a part, performs service or inspects the equipment. But what happens all the time when the maintenance technician is not by the equipment?

Do you know how many small stops and unplanned maintenance that eat up the profitability of your business? Let’s look at how we can turn maintenance into a profitable activity.

In the initial phases, time is the most important investment we have to do. Through initial analysis and discussions with the customer, we usually come to the conclusion that an approach where we start with a pilot in a selected area is the best.

After the initial analysis, we then do a thorough review of the pilot area. What we primarily want to achieve is an overview of where we have losses related to machines and technical equipment, what type of equipment it is and what we can do to reduce the loss. If the evaluation confirms that this is a good business case, and that there is a reasonable probability of success, then we make a plan and get started. In the first round, we make sure to harvest low-hanging fruit, and then gradually dig deeper into the matter.

Time-based and operator-driven maintenance
Time-based maintenance is the most important maintenance in most businesses. In order for it to be possible to implement, we must have an overview of the condition and operating conditions of our equipment. This is where operator-driven maintenance comes in. The person who operates the equipment (the operator), and who thus has the most contact with it, must be enabled to understand the equipment and take care of it when the maintenance technician is not there.

We need to know how long it is safe to run before the next maintenance point. The assumption of how long run-time is expected is based on normal operating conditions. If the operator is enabled to understand when the equipment is outside normal operating conditions, and may even be able to do something about it, then we are well on our way to good productive maintenance.

Condition-based and operator-driven maintenance
On the equipment where you switch to condition-based maintenance, the operator’s role is the same, and for the same reason. First, by the operator being able to assess some of the condition parameters on the machine, a 1st line of defense against damage and quality loss is established. Secondly; If the operator is able to know when you are outside and within normal operating conditions, and can do something about it, then the service life of the equipment is extended. Then you will also get reduced maintenance costs through condition-based maintenance.

Can we be better than we already are?
In order to map the need for improvement and plan where to start, it is natural to start and look at productivity losses that occur because the equipment is not available or does not have the right quality.

To form a good picture of where we stand, we use tools that can give us the necessary factual basis. We can, for example, use a standpoint analysis, a benchmark exercise or combinations of several tools. Maybe we will also visit other companies in the same industry to see examples of good methods and practices, and to get inspiration. The purpose of the mapping phase is to arrive at a uniform understanding where we have improvement needs and opportunities.

Two questions that needs to be addressed:

Ask the operator when a maintenance technician last taught him something that can help him understand the machine better and run it more efficiently?
Ask the maintenance technician when an operator last taught him something that can help him understand the machine better and maintain it more efficiently?

These two questions say something about the culture between operation-maintenance-improvement. If possible, a TPM program should hereby be started.

To do TPM must be rooted in management
The agreement to start a TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) program must be anchored at the very top of the organization to ensure that good and increased interaction between operation and maintenance is facilitated, at the same time as competence development is on the agenda and results are requested and made visible.

Competence boost
Creating ownership of machines and equipment and the condition they are in, is directly related to the extent to which we are able to increase employees’ competence. Employees must learn to see when we approach a break-down or a stop. We need to train operators’ skills in performing simple maintenance tasks. We must be able to understand when we are outside normal operating conditions and to assess the condition of the equipment. Then the maintenance organization can always prioritize the most important maintenance work.

The more people in the organization who have knowledge of these tasks, the easier it is to get a flow in the maintenance work. On the contrary, we see that when only a few employees have such competence, tasks accumulate quickly, and we do not get the necessary maintenance work done. Maintenance enters fire extinguishing mode.

Three main areas

  1. To enable the operating organization to take ownership of the maintenance processes
  2. To ensure that the maintenance organization has competence and an overview of the operation and maintenance needs
  3. Having a plan and a system for how you will prioritize and attack chronic operational problem

Ownership and competence

When machines and equipment are set to the desired condition, we must ensure that we maintain the condition. Here, visual control, the visual factory, is an important tool. These are everything from very simple measures to gradually larger lifts. If, for example, we have a pressure gauge and at the same time know what the correct pressure is, we mark this on the pressure gauge (or on the operator screen), so that it is easy for everyone to understand if we are within the correct pressure range. Once the base is in place, we can start looking at real-time analytics and eventually big data analytics. Systematic development and improvement of the standards coupled with continuous training in the actual execution of work in accordance with the standards, is part of the foundation. There are many pitfalls here. The most important thing is to create ownership and real influence over the standard of those who actually perform the job.

Plan and system for prioritization

Through updated and dynamic critical analysis, we make sure to sort and prioritize maintenance needs, so that we can take care of the needs in the right order.

A dynamic critical analysis takes into account not only the original design, but also how the equipment is used today and statistical information for utilization and availability.