Making the case for reinventing maintenance
Times are changing and the adage “reinventing maintenance” has become a peremptory challenge that we ignore at our peril. As reliability-centred maintenance evolves with the emergence of new technologies to more sophisticated and effective levels, there’s a refocusing on maintenance as a business imperative, and measuring has come under renewed scrutiny.
After a two-year hiatus, Federated Press convened its eighth maintenance conference this year in Toronto, appropriately titled “Reinventing Maintenance.” Here are three key points gleaned from the event that make the case for maintenance in today’s manufacturing environment.
It’s a business. Daniel Lawson, a continuous improvement manager, plant services, for Blount Canada Ltd., an industrial chainsaw manufacturer and exporter in Guelph, Ont., stressed the importance of treating maintenance as a business. Production pressures, equipment condition, on-time delivery and quality issues are changing the way we must look at processes and equipment, and Lawson suggests total productive maintenance (TPM) plays an important role keeping unscheduled and emergency activity to a minimum. But it also refocuses maintenance as a crucial part of the business structure rather than the non-profit, “necessary evil” service it’s often perceived to be. It does this by restoring machine uptime, eliminating sources of contamination, improving equipment accessibility, setting maintenance standards, honing inspection skills, educating and training operators, and working to the performance of tasks by the right person at the right time. The end result: a fatter bottom line.
Measure to manage. Cliff Williams, the corporate maintenance manager at chemicals company ERCO Worldwide, raises an important question: do we measure to manage or just measure?
“The purpose of measuring is to gather relevant information to allow more informed decision-making and to drive continuous improvement in support of corporate goals,” Williams says.
So what should we measure?
A good place to start is the effect of good maintenance on output, such as the cost per unit of product, and applying such key performance indicators (KPIs) as:
• OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) – availability output efficiency multiplied by quality.
• MTBF (meantime between failures – total hours divided by the number of failures.
• MTTR (meantime to repair) – total downtime divided by the number of failures (useful only when root causes of failure are identified).
• Inventory turnover – use computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) capabilities with a failure code field and an area for tracking inventory turnover (in Canada 1½ times per year).
Leverage technology. CMMSs with their many bells and whistles are notoriously underused. Among their many benefits, they facilitate the integration of different levels within and outside an organization for information sharing.
In a recent article, David Berger, a principal with Western Management Consultants who is an expert on CMMS technology, says maintenance departments must ensure basic CMMS modules are fully integrated. As a minimum, this includes work order control, preventive maintenance, spare parts inventory control and equipment history.
Berger points out that one advantage of integration between departments is that each plant can search the corporate database for a given part before purchasing from an outside vendor. This would keep enterprise-wide inventory levels to a minimum and improve lead times. And each plant determines the reliability of a given brand of equipment or component by accessing the history of another plant before purchasing it.
Now most CMMS vendors have built in the appropriate interfaces, Berger says electronic data interchange and the internet will accommodate electronic catalogues, the electronic transfer of quotations, purchase orders and invoices for spare parts, and contract maintenance purchases.