March 25, 2014 / benchmark study, bottlenecks, continuous improvement, preventative maintenance, productivity
In most cases, one of leading causes of lost productivity is breakdowns. Equipment and tooling failures create bottlenecks that throw off delivery schedules, reduce efficiency, and increase costs. And in today’s competitive market, forges just can’t afford downtime.
While some breakdowns are inevitable, more and more companies are realizing that proper maintenance and proactive care of equipment and tooling can, in fact, reduce their occurrence. When equipment is well maintained, it is more reliable, more predictable, and more productive.
Really, the case for preventative maintenance (PM) program isn’t a hard one to argue, especially when so many manufacturers are seeing the positive impact it can have on the bottom-line. For example, according a recent benchmark study from the LENOX Institute of Technology, 70% of industrial metal-cutting organizations that report their scrap and rework costs are less than 5% also say they “always” break in their band saw blades. This provides strong economic validation for the proactive care of equipment such as saws and blades. By breaking in blades properly, organizations are able to reduce “soft” failure that leads to waste and scrap and that eats into their bottom line. It also keeps operators productive and reduces unnecessary tooling costs.
While the theoretical benefits of a PM program are clear, like any continuous improvement initiative, it requires some strategy to be successful in practice. The following are just a few best practices for managers to consider when implementing a formal PM program:
- Define it. Managers need to take the time to define the purpose of their maintenance program and, more importantly, its goals. This article from Reliable Plant dissects the different “levels” of maintenance and the objectives associated with each. For example, the article differentiates between Preventative Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, and Proactive Maintenance—three terms many people use interchangeably. By understanding the entire spectrum of maintenance possibilities, managers can assess what is realistic within their operation based on available resources.
- Schedule it. As stated in this article by consultant William Worsham, the key to executing a successful PM program is scheduling. According to Worsham, scheduling should be automated to the maximum extent possible. He suggests that managers implement “a very aggressive program to monitor the schedule and ensure that the work is completed according to schedule should be in place.” This means both documentation and accountability are critical.
- Measure it. Metrics are the only way to truly gauge if a maintenance program is producing results, and according to this article IndustryWeek, one or two metrics isn’t going to cut it. Quoting Jeff Shiver, managing principal of maintenance consulting firm People and Processes Inc., the IW article provides ten key metrics managers should use to help determine whether or not their maintenance initiatives are improving reliability. Based on this list, effective measurement goes far beyond PM compliance and should include bigger picture metrics like maintenance cost per unit of production, storeroom inventory value, and first-pass yield.