October 30, 2023
Dos And Don'ts Of Maintenance - I
One year, my father purchased a new set of string lights for an outside decoration. Inside the box, along with the coiled lights was a pamphlet that had 33 points of either basic instructions or warnings on how not to use the product. For instance, don't bend the coil too tightly or you risk breaking the lights. (Apparently, the tight coil shoved into a small box wasn't what they meant.) While this is an amusing anecdote of the dos and don'ts of maintenance (and yes, stringing lights around a porch is Christmas maintenance), let's look at more traditional maintenance.
What's beneficial about these points is that they pertain to both home maintenance (preventive or otherwise) and a company's maintenance department. Over the course of four weeks, I'll discuss one of four categories. Assets, Inventory, Maintenance, and Work Orders. Many points will overlap, but that's the beauty of these dos and don'ts. Overlap means constant reminders.
When we refer to assets, these are both equipment and non-equipment (buildings, vehicles, etc.).
1. Do learn about them.
While this seems an obvious point, problems occur when we forget this DO because we think we already understand. A house is a house and a building is a building, right?
Take time to know the ins and outs of these assets. Measurements, square footage, age, structural materials and integrity of said materials, and the ground underneath. (Buildings over old coal mines are risky.)
Learn about siding, roofs, gutters, driveway, the proximity of trees, shrubbery and fences, and neighborhood underground pipes and cables.
I mentioned vehicles earlier. My brother-in-law is a truck driver. He must understand every part of his vehicle including basic repairs. This holds true for any machine in a company. How it works, what it does, proper usage, and yes, proper preventive maintenance required. Operators should understand how one machine connects to the next on the line. A simple example is knowing the relationship between a computer and a printer.
2. Do record and track readings.
Part of the learning process is to track readings. Mileage, pressure, volume, depth, hours in use, etc.
These readings should be noted on a regular basis. After each trip, every six hours, every three months, etc.
The reason to record these readings and measurements is to assist in preventive maintenance. A simple example is the familiar 5000 miles to the next oil change.
3. Do regular preventive maintenance.
You do personal preventive maintenance with daily showers, teeth brushing, etc. Your assets deserve the same treatment. Yearly inspections of the HVAC system, siding, roof, gutters, etc. At work, you'll do these and more inspections on non-equipment assets (fire extinguishers) and replacements (smoke alarm batteries.) Lubrication of certain machines. Periodic washing and cleaning. Schedule these PMs and don't neglect them because "nothing is wrong now" or "I just did that a week ago." Don't gloss over inspections because everything was fine the last time. An example is a machine's vibration could alter the inner workings. If this is not checked, the machine spits out damaged products or shuts down. At worst, something breaks, risking operator injury.
4. Do note reasons for failure.
Do you like how one point flows easily to the next?
If a failure or breakdown occurs, make a record of what happened and why it happened. An example is the printer stopped. Cause—paper jam. Or the failure is the paper jam and the cause is someone tried to use a heavier stock of paper than acceptable.
In addition, either before the work is completed or afterward, note the action taken. Further training, replacement part(s), new install, etc.
Benefits of having failure/cause/action information include more efficiency for the maintenance tech and faster time to return the machine to full operation.
5. Do know the manufacturer/vendor.
Who built it? Who delivered it? From these, you should have specs and operational procedures. Do have a contact who can recommend preventive maintenance and repair procedures? If the failure is because of faulty design, what are the return/replacement policies?
Part of the operational manual from the manufacturer should include…
6. Safety regulations you do follow.
Operators, maintenance supervisors/technicians, and anyone near the machine do need to be aware of safety precautions. Unplugging before repair, wearing a hairnet, keeping shields attached when in operation, wearing safety goggles/glasses, etc.
7. Do train all parties involved.
This was in an earlier point regarding readings. One problem some companies have is tension between "production" and "maintenance." Production complains that machines break down too frequently or maintenance doesn't conduct quality work.
Maintenance complains production doesn't inform them of problems.
Both sides do need training to track equipment readings, conduct routine maintenance, and watch and follow through on problems.
8. Do understand equipment hierarchy.
This is part of the first point and is important for both operator and maintenance worker. Some equipment can be viewed like a Russian doll, a small piece of equipment nesting inside a larger piece.
The benefits of this information include pinpointing problems, shaping proper PMs, and more efficient repairs. As an example, a motor inside a processor could be replaced and repaired. A department could have several replacement motors that are cycled through.
1. Don't over-maintain.
As an example, adding too much lubrication actually is detrimental.
Proper cycling of PMs helps reduce production downtime and ease that aforementioned tension.
Too much maintenance is inefficient and raises costs, especially if parts are replaced before they're due. Time, energy, and resources are wasted with too many cleanings, driving to various locations too often, etc.
Another example is a three-month filter. You're wasting money if you change it every month. However, depending on the environment, you might consider every other month instead of waiting the entire three months.
2. Don't neglect PMs.
The opposite of too much. This was mentioned before. Proper knowledge of assets, regular tracking of readings, and quality training take you out of the reactive mindset of only conducting maintenance when something fails. Neglecting PMs increases expenses, decreases productivity, and foments that tension.
3. Don't misuse assets.
Again, this is part of learning proper operation and usage.
Don't underuse or overuse equipment. Don't try to force equipment to go beyond tolerance levels. Don't try to make it perform differently than what it's intended for.
There are a lot of dos and don'ts for maintenance. Most of the time they come down to proper training and common sense.
Next week, we'll look at some dos and don'ts of Inventory. Meanwhile, for better asset management, do call Mapcon Technologies for a superb computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). Mapcon will help you organize the information regarding all of your assets. 800-922-4336. Don't delay that call!