Whether it’s mechanical, electrical, digital–your industrial equipment is going to be subject to wear and tear over time. A wearing part can reduce the efficiency of a piece of equipment or it can cause it to break down. If you are operating an industrial plant filled with equipment for air systems, boiler systems, or pumping systems, you likely know how costly equipment breakdowns can be. The key to saving lost revenue spent on new equipment, replacement parts, overtime for workers, and emergency repair technicians is to develop a sophisticated preventive maintenance plan that can help your business avoid expensive downtime.
What Is Preventive Maintenance?
Preventive maintenance, simply put, are the strategies companies take to maintain their equipment–to ensure it’s in optimum functioning condition. It typically involves routine inspections and tune-ups. During inspections, technicians look for signs of trouble such as wearing parts or leaks. If ignored, seemingly small issues can turn into big problems if they cause breakdowns, reduce operational efficiency, or cause damage to other aspects of the equipment or the company’s products.
Moreover, some equipment problems actually pose serious threats to both workers and the property. Companies must take preventive maintenance seriously in order to reduce liabilities and keep their plant running safely at all times.
How Do Equipment Problems Cost Industrial Companies?
The cost of preventive maintenance is less than the costs associated with equipment breakdowns. Why is that? One reason is replacing a part during a preventive maintenance inspection requires less downtime than if that part failed and caused significant equipment damage. Not only would the part still require replacement, but the damage would also need to be repaired–and paid for.
Additionally, longer downtimes associated with pumping systems or boiler breakdowns cost the company in terms of productivity. Time is money, as they say. Downtimes set back schedules and, certainly, frustrate customers who may also have tight schedules to maintain. While some customers may forgive an occasional lapse, most will search for other vendors or suppliers if downtime becomes a continual problem.
When industrial equipment breaks down, the company may be forced to pay its workers overtime or pay expensive rates of emergency equipment technicians. All these costs add up and are decidedly more expensive than those routine maintenance checks that help minimize downtime and reduce maintenance costs.
What Are the Benefits of Preventive Maintenance?
Developing a preventive maintenance plan is associated with numerous benefits for industrial companies. First, of course, is the money savings. Preventive maintenance allows companies to save thousands of dollars associated with breakdowns, emergency repairs, overtime pay, and associated delays. Companies that develop robust maintenance plans are also surprised less often by costly repairs. In fact, they find it easier to budget for equipment because maintenance is associated with costs that are easier to pinpoint.
For instance, maintenance plans can include the costs of replacement parts. Companies can more easily budget for system maintenance than they can for breakdowns and downtime. A maintenance plan can also include inventory of parts so that if a worn part needs replacement, the technicians can quickly make the repair. If there is no part in stock, the company must obtain it quickly or its equipment will remain inoperational.
In addition to money savings, maintenance also supports equipment longevity so that companies can get as much value as possible from the life of their machines. Breakdowns can reduce equipments’ longevity and require early replacement. Equipment is an asset; by maintaining it carefully in order to ward off serious problems, companies can get a better return on their equipment investments.
Developing a Preventive Maintenance Plan
To minimize downtime and save money, industrial companies should develop robust preventive maintenance plans that are highly specific and designed for each system and its equipment. To develop a strong plan, here are some elements to include:
Your preventative maintenance plan should have an inventory of all equipment along with specific information such as its location, specifications, make and model number and parts used. When you have your inventory, you’ll find it easier to schedule its routine maintenance as well as to track its condition or the tasks taken to maintain the unit.
It takes time and resources to inspect and maintain industrial equipment. Moreover, some measures may need to be taken after hours or at certain times in order to minimize interruption to production. Companies also have to consider how often each piece of equipment should be inspected and schedule their maintenance accordingly. Scheduling preventive maintenance for an industrial plant is a complex job. However, an effective maintenance schedule reduces downtime and supports operational success.
It takes qualified maintenance pros to maintain and repair industrial equipment. Your plan should account for these techs. While many companies hire and retain talented maintenance teams, there are times when outside help may be required. Be sure that your plan has the contact information for equipment vendors and outside equipment technicians.
Structure for Decision Making
When repairs or replacements are needed for equipment, who signs off? Your plan should denote the process for okaying equipment repairs, part replacements, and so forth. Having a detailed plan in writing is ideal as all companies experience turnover. New techs and plant employees will benefit by knowing all the details of equipment plans, including who makes decisions regarding equipment maintenance.
Short-Term and Long-Term Maintenance Tasks
Each piece of equipment is likely associated with various types of preventive maintenance tasks–some have to be completed routinely (i.e. filter changes), while others might require only annual checks. These tasks should be scheduled accordingly.
When you have a robust preventive maintenance plan, you’ll find that it’s an actionable document. Its use will be integral to caring for your machinery and equipment. Be sure that your technicians record the completion of their maintenance tasks and repairs so you have a record of work and can easily tally the costs associated with your equipment maintenance.