Maintenance is a fundamental discipline to ensure the effective continuation of an industrial operation. Machinery wears and fails over time; without a keen eye on the causes of failure, and the correct implementation of checks and repairs, machine breakdowns can cost significantly in terms of both time and money.
There is also a crucial health and safety element to the optimal operation of your business’ equipment and machinery. Faults and breakages may result in serious risk to staff and visitors; health and safety risk assessments should reflect this danger, but a proper approach to maintenance should be prioritised to minimise injury risk.
If you are relatively new to leadership in an industrial or manufacturing industry, your knowledge and experience may not encompass the effective maintenance of equipment under your administration. Alternatively, you may be completely new to engineering, and hoping to gain a more nuanced understanding of the way in which large-scale machinery is properly maintained. Either way, the following constitutes a key window into the processes and disciplines that ensure work equipment lasts as long as it should.
Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM)
Planned preventative maintenance, or PPM, is the lynchpin of any forward-thinking maintenance strategy for industrial equipment. It works on the principle that any equipment maintenance should be proactive as opposed to reactive – that is, that machinery should be regularly checked and repaired even if operating optimally, in order to prevent potential failures.
PPM ensures that the potential causes for a breakdown are addressed before they present themselves, or cause an issue. For example, a large majority of industrial equipment relies on physical mechanisms, which require lubrication to operate. Scheduled maintenance would include the use of reliable lubrication tools, such as DeWalt grease guns, to access mechanisms and apply lubricant grease. This extends the life of these parts, reducing the likelihood of premature wear.
One useful way in which an engineering department can track the status of equipment in your business is through the use of maintenance logs. Maintenance logs enable technicians and engineers to report various errors, faults and repairs in situ, helping to build a clear picture of a given piece of equipment’s condition and status.
Preparation for Reactive Maintenance
Even with a robust programme for PPM, there is no preventing the occasional fault or equipment breakdown – whether due to a systems glitch or human error. Breakages are not entirely predictable, necessitating a preventative approach to downtime as well as to repairs.
For proprietary equipment, your business should ensure that spare parts and modules are also manufactured and prepared, in order to minimise wait times for emergency repairs. For commercially available equipment, spares should be purchased and stockpiled; it can also be helpful to keep an equipment rental business on retainer, to ensure work can continue while repairs are underway.