March 18, 2014
9 Ways to Help Your Equipment Last Longer
Keeping track of your assets and scheduling jobs are usually the topics du jour around these parts, but today, I figured I would switch things up and discuss some tips for equipment maintenance to help keep your machinery running and actually extend the life of the machinery under your command. So put on some gloves and rub some elbow grease on... It's time to get to work.
Keeping Your Plant's Equipment in Tip-Top Shape
Plant equipment is such a broad term, and the phrase covers literally everything from power tools and office equipment to coffee machines and forklifts - essentially any machinery in your plant's possession. With that in mind, it is hard to offer specific tips for individual pieces of machinery, but instead, we will focus on some broader ideas and suggestions to increase your equipment's longevity.
Read the User Manual
The assets under your care come with a user manual for a reason, and while I am sure you have read each one from front to back many times, there may be a practical use for those equipment guides that you are over-looking. Typically, these guides contain suggestions on when you should perform equipment maintenance - use these guides and enter them into your computerized management maintenance system.
Have Spare Parts on Hand
Usually, a piece of machinery will give us quite a bit of warning before it dies, and sometimes, "machine death" can be avoided with something as simple as replacing a faulty or malfunctioning part. However, if you do not have those extra bits on hand (or have not properly tracked their location with your CMMS), your machine may well break down by the time you get the replacement parts you need. Pay some attention to managing spare parts before it's too late.
Inspect Your Equipment
As we stated above, equipment usually does not break down randomly - there is always a cause, and with that cause, there are typically warning signs a good maintenance manager will know to look for. If you rely solely on your CMMS to tell you when machines need maintenance or work, you are missing a vital step in your maintenance plan. Conducting a visual inspection of your assets will go a long way in terms of prolonging the life expectancy of your equipment. CMMS City has a unique perspective on the equipment inspection process.
Optimizing Your Preventative Maintenance Schedule
In a perfect world, every plant would have a full staff of maintenance workers on hand at all times and every piece of machinery under our command would receive maintenance without fail. However, in real-world scenarios, this is rarely the case. Understaffing and poorly planned maintenance schedules can easily lead to the early demise of equipment. Because of this, you should always look for ways to fine-tune your PM schedule.
Perform a Maintenance Audit
Along the same lines as optimizing your preventative maintenance schedule, a maintenance audit has many benefits: It helps you stay on budget, increases profits, and increases the longevity of your machines. Every so often, you should take a step back, look at your monthly reports and work orders, and see what works and what doesn't. More likely than not, you will see holes in the way your maintenance system works. Fixing these "holes" is a sure-fire way to keep your assets working for the long haul.
Create a Sound Maintenance Plan
Of course, if you take the time and effort to create a great maintenance plan, you will be able to prevent many of the "holes" we spoke of above. Not that you shouldn't still conduct maintenance audits - after all, no plan is perfect. Utilize some good methods for creating an effective maintenance plan that can get you well on your way to a near-perfect plan.
Create a Standard Equipment Maintenance Checklist
While practice makes perfect, sometimes we (and our maintenance team) get complacent, and complacency can lead to a sloppy maintenance job. When we do maintenance on a piece of equipment, sometimes we have been doing it for so long that we perform the work on autopilot, and in those situations, we can forget important steps. Because of this, you should always create maintenance checklists for every type of equipment under your care.
Know Your Machinery
One of the best ways you can ensure that your equipment meets - or even exceeds - product life expectancy is to take detailed notes about each and every item at your disposal. Document any information you think is important: age of the machine, expected lifespan, warranty information, known issues, and fixes - the list goes on and on. By being informed about your assets, you will know what to expect out of each machine - and how to react when those machines fail to meet those expectations.
Purchase a CMMS
It probably goes without saying that if you are in the maintenance management or reliability industry, you should absolutely employ the use of a computerized maintenance management system. Just in case you do not currently use a CMMS or are not aware of the many benefits, here is a great article discussing computerized management systems.
For more equipment maintenance tips, check out some maintenance optimization ideas.