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Up to World War II, the term- Maintenance was not coined because the industries were not highly mechanised. The industries were neglecting the consequences of equipment or machine failures. The machines were operated until they failed and later repaired or replaced just like- ‘Fix it, when it breaks.

The maintenance was considered as no less than evil because detecting the onset of failure or prevention of failure was quite expensive. With passing time, the demands of industrial products increased and the shortage of manpower was found, which made maintenance an important part of the production process. Several maintenance strategies were created that involves identification, research, and execution of replacement, repair, or inspection decisions.

That’s why a maintenance department was created for a production unit that works like- “I operate and you fix it.” It’s referred to as preventive maintenance where the maintenance is carried out at defined schedules to mitigate the worst consequences of failure or machine performance degradation at an early stage. Thereby the preventive maintenance has a direct impact on manufacturing productivity and overall profitability.

A case in the point:

The ATSC Textile manufacturing firm in Ethiopia has the latest weaving machinery to produce different items like- bleached canvas, cotton fabric, dyed fabric, printed fabric, grey fabric, and pretty more. But, the unplanned failures, frequent set-ups and changeovers, dependency on spare parts, and unnecessary machine idling time has brought a big deviation in what’s planned and actual production of the firm. Around 20% of the fluctuation is observed, which is disastrous for the firm’s growth and revenue.

When the company has transformed its traditional reactive maintenance mechanism where the machines are not fixed until they broke with proactive maintenance, the organized maintenance system has made an invaluable contribution towards manufacturing productivity and ensuring quality production. See how?

With preventive maintenance, the company can keep the spare parts in stock for effective maintenance; increased control over the machines and the reporting time that prevent complete failures; no downtime that leads to a high wastage of production hours. The investment in modern maintenance system that allows the operators to repair or replace before it breaks has reduced the number of breakdowns and uplifted the productivity by a great margin.

At this stage, you are pretty clear with what’s preventive maintenance, right? If not, here is a brief explanation of it:

The reliability, availability, and productivity of the production floors play a vital role in determining the manufacturing companies’ productivity and competitiveness. The product performance can be ensured with proper maintenance function in place and cannot be executed in isolation. It’s an integral part of the production function.

Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintenance practice where machine conditions are controlled before the failure occurs through scheduled maintenance plans. When the preventative maintenance plan is implemented rightly, it works wonder for the manufacturing firms.

Take a quick look at 7 tactics that let preventive maintenance strategy brilliantly prevent the planned and unplanned downtime:

Perform risk audit

Some manufacturers still work with outdated aging equipment whose parts are unavailable and take months to produce and deliver the goods that just take a couple of days. The audit highlights the problem that equipment obsolescence poses risk to manufacturing operations, and the solutions to address the challenges. The risk audit is an effective step to reduce machine downtime.

Measure the downtime cost

Not translating the cost of downtime in dollar figures is the biggest mistake that manufacturing companies make because it determines how much loss the manufacturers have to bear for a single minute of downtime. It includes loss in staff productivity, reduced goods production, unexpected equipment repairing cost, rescheduling of the workforce, and damage to reputation. In preventive maintenance, the downtime cost calculation helps in focusing and legitimizing the prevention activities accordingly.

Deploy modern CMMS

The mobile workforce is the need of the hour. Embrace the preventive maintenance CMMS that provides a mobile interface to the companies and enable preventive maintenance execution right on the mobile. The proactive alerts, schedules, intervention reports, and other information will be available on hand that makes preventive maintenance easier and faster.

Harness data from assets

Merely, the report stating about the loss that machine breakdown or downtime has caused to the company is not optimal because it doesn’t help in identifying the root cause of the problem. Besides, the manual data collection methods never give rich insights in real-time. With IT and operating system integration, the companies will have a 360-degree view of the entire scenario and help in correlating and finding the exact pain points.

For instance, the asset condition monitoring practices under preventive maintenance collect the data and analyze it to uncover the meaningful data that further helps in preventing the activities that are negatively impacting the production.

Stick to schedules

The better maintenance schedule increases the equipment longevity, mitigate the likelihood of failures, improve safety, and increase the equipment effectiveness with high productivity. It makes no sense to perform maintenance at irregular intervals as it ultimately turns the maintenance plans into reactive where unexpected failures occur and they are fixed when broke.

Keep the back-up program

Maintaining the practice of continuously taking the back-up copy of the PLC system is all-important because rewriting the complete system from scratch eats up a lot of time, effort, and resources. It results in halting the production up till the program is not written that’s a great loss to the company. Stay out of the troubles with regular back-up practice

Move from reactive to proactive

Preventive maintenance is not just a technical tool to prevent failures or downtime; instead, proactive thinking and mindset must be weaved in the company’s culture for successful implementation. Introducing every employee with preventive maintenance in the planning stage helps in getting them onboard easily and makes them interested in a new proactive maintenance approach. The changed psychology of the company’s staff helps is maximizing the value and minimizing the wastage.  

The benefits it brings to the production line:

Minimize breakdowns

The failure of one machine can cause the total manufacturing plant shutdown and thereafter, diagnosing the problem and exacting the faulty machine is a tiresome task. The problem doesn’t end here. The next step is to find why failure has occurred, why the machine was not performing as expected, and why the desired outcome is not achieved.

With preventive maintenance, the manufacturers will have all the data at the disposal that helps them find the deviations in the machine performance and how it can impact the total production. The valuable data aids in fixing the problem before it becomes a big issue. Also, the root cause of the problem and its solution can be found in a couple of seconds.

In this manner, the number of breakdowns can be diminished and still, if they occur, it can be diagnosed and fixed at speed.

Reduce downtime’s

Under the early equipment management technique, the maintenance managers apply the knowledge of the latest machines to the maintenance program where the inventory of spare parts is verified to keep the parts in stock, parts accessibility is checked, modern tools that enable easy changeovers are arranged and safety features are ensured.

All of these things together enable the production unit to overcome the breakdowns and make the machines run as quickly as possible. The effective and speedy handling of machine breakdown reduces the downtime that damages productivity.  

Increase safety

The preventive maintenance is not just about avoiding machine breakdown and decreasing downtime with a proactive strategy; instead, the maintenance focus on every activity that keeps the workplace free from hazards to ensure workforce safety. When new machines are deployed or maintenance procedures are changed, then safety levels are ensured through risk assessment, hazard analysis, and training sessions. Preventive maintenance is a better approach to keep the workplace and workforce health good.

Improve asset life  

In the planned maintenance, the maintenance managers consistently perform routine maintenance with regular inspections that prevent the problem before the machine breakdown occurs. The defined KPIs helps in identifying the variations in machine output or its behavior, and the autonomous maintenance provides the minute detail (When any fluctuation occurs) to the responsible person for the immediate action. When the required actions for the small malfunctioning such as lubrication, repairing, or oiling are taken ahead of the time, the lifespan of the asset will increase.

Enhance quality throughput

With autonomous maintenance and continuous improvements, the team will focus on important things and remove the waste and non-value adding activities to increase the outcome. The quality maintenance ensures that delivered outcomes are free from quality defects and errors so that quality production becomes the hallmark of the manufacturing company.

Summing it up

Gradually, a shift in the manufacturing companies CIOs mindset is seen, that’s going beyond the reactive approach of fixing the breakdown and downtime issues when they occur. There is a pressing need of implementing preventing maintenance on the production floor is observed to improve the quality of the equipment, which in turn, improves productivity with waste elimination, reduced manufacturing cost, increased employee morale, and job satisfaction. It’s a sign the maintenance paves the way for enormous success. Incorporate the preventive maintenance with the production unit aptly to get the best results!  

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