Manufacturers Use Maintenance to Boost Production

  • May 10, 2022, 16:18 PM

Manufacturers are leveraging lean strategies to reduce production costs while increasing quality and throughput. Furthermore, new technology has a critical part in improving production efficiency. As a result, despite the number of workers declining in manufacturing, output has grown for manufacturers using lean strategies.

This article outlines several strategies for bolstering production efficiency using maintenance, including:

  • How maintenance impacts production efficiency
  • Five ways the maintenance team can boost production capacity

How maintenance increases production efficiency

Proper equipment maintenance is essential for increasing production efficiency. Production efficiency is a measurement used by manufacturers to determine how well (and how long) a company can keep up with demand. Calculated as Actual Output Rate / Standard Output Rate x 100, production efficiency compares production rates to expected or standard production rates.

Using preventive maintenance (PM) or maintenance regularly performed to keep assets operating at their best, helps in the following ways:

  • Limits equipment downtime: If equipment is checked regularly, you can find and fix failures before they cause breakdowns that disrupt production. Having a solid preventive maintenance schedule also allows you to coordinate with production to reduce planned downtime.
  • Establishes a corrective action system for failures: Having a strategy to find, analyze, and fix failure allows you to target recurring issues at their root. You can spot and eliminate problems that impact equipment availability and product quality the most.
  • Facilitates better shift changeovers: Communicating the right information to technicians quickly and accurately including a run-down of what work must be done, when and any foreseen obstacles.
  • Confirms that standard operating procedures are clear and maintained: SOPs train operators to perform routine maintenance so machines can be operated with fewer breakdowns and accidents.

Five things your maintenance team can start doing today to increase production efficiency

Having established the importance of maintenance in improving production efficiency, it only makes sense to take advantage of the steps your maintenance team can take today to amplify production. While many projects can take months or years to complete, pursuing quick wins is an easy way to build momentum and prove the value of your maintenance team. Here are five things that your maintenance team can start doing immediately to increase production efficiency.

1. Optimize the frequency of your PMs

A preventive maintenance schedule can be a good example of having too much of a good thing. Too much preventive maintenance can affect production efficiency in two ways: wasted time helping prevent non-existent failure or increasing the risk of failure by fixing a working component.

You must strike the right balance. These guidelines can help you find the right mix between too many PMs and too few:

  • Use equipment maintenance logs to track the found failure rate on preventive maintenance tasks. Start with PMs that take the longest or cost the most.
  • If a PM leads to regular corrective maintenance, keep it at the same frequency.
  • Try increasing the time between inspections if a PM rarely identifies failure. If the found failure rate exceeds the frequency of the PM, adjust your schedule so it’s better aligned. For example, an inspection might occur every two weeks. But a failure is found every six weeks. Adjusting the PM to every 4 to 6 weeks is recommended.
  • If a machine experiences frequent breakdowns between inspections, try shortening maintenance intervals. You can also modify the trigger for maintenance, changing it from a time-based trigger to a usage or performance-based trigger.

Basic maintenance triggers alert technicians that maintenance is required on an asset. Planning, acting on and recording maintenance triggers will keep equipment at its best and available when you need it, while avoiding extra work. Using technology like a CMMS is key to creating, tracking and executing effective maintenance triggers.

2. Identify machines that can be maintained while running

Determine if there are any assets that can be safely worked on while running. The key word is ‘safely’. If not, determine if partial maintenance is possible and if it will have a positive impact on equipment performance.

You can also track rotating or spare assets and swap them for production equipment when possible. That allows you to do regular maintenance on these machines without sacrificing productivity.

3. Make equipment capabilities transparent and clear

Create a list of instructions for operating equipment and common issues. Use a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) to create a list of common failures by each asset including warning signs for breakdowns. Next time your equipment hits a snag, your maintenance time will be quick, with more accurate diagnostics.

4. Use work order data to identify where your team can be more efficient

Work order data is a goldmine to discover what jobs can be performed more quickly and how to minimize the risk of asset failure so you can boost production efficiency. Look for these signs of broken processes in your work orders:

  • Unavailable parts and supplies: If this issue is delaying maintenance, review the purchasing process for parts and supplies and confirm that you will have them available before the maintenance is needed. In addition, make sure that your cycle counts are accurate and the threshold for purchase approvals is low enough that inventory is replenished quickly. You can also create parts kits for frequent repairs or emergency repairs on production equipment. That way, your team can locate and retrieve parts quickly.
  • Misidentified/misdiagnosed problems or missing instructions: All maintenance starts with proper diagnosis. Make sure that task lists, failure codes and descriptions are clear. Attach photos, manuals and other documentation to the work order for accurate diagnostics.
  • Diverted resources resulting from prevented emergency work orders: Emergencies can be avoided if you proactively analyze your work order data and find tasks that are too large. Next, break them down into smaller jobs to reduce the risk of major disruptions. This way, you can divert the resources info servicing other non-emergency work orders that don’t take up as much time or effort.
  • Scheduling conflicts with production: See if maintenance can be scheduled while production is happening or if work can be done at off or nonpeak hours, like evenings or weekends. To offload maintenance during regular operations, you can also consider giving operators minor maintenance responsibilities associated with the work order.
  • Review required worker skill set for maintenance: Work order data can readily help you determine if the people assigned have the right skills or certifications needed for the work order’s execution. Making it clear as to what kind of skills or certifications are necessary for certain maintenance types can go a long way in improving meantime-to-repair (MTTR) and first-time fix (FTF) metrics.

5. Find the biggest obstacles for your team

You can learn a lot from the data that comes from your equipment and work orders. But to know fine grained or anecdotal details, sometimes you must ask the people who perform the work. Discuss what barriers they face and offer suggestions or alleviate the bottlenecks. Acting on this information is crucial to continually improving your maintenance processes. All those improvements can add up to a huge boost in production efficiency.

If your technicians spend too much time traveling to other locations to retrieve manuals, asset histories or other materials, for example, find areas throughout your facility where files can be accessed. Or digitizing files so they can be accessed through a mobile device. Try to make digital collaboration between maintenance workers as smooth as possible and be able to leverage their strengths as a wider team.

Here are a few questions to ask your technicians to find any roadblocks:

  • What tasks commonly take you away from a machine?
  • Are information and parts easily accessible? If not, why?
  • What information would help complete work more efficiently?
  • Are there processes or systems that are hard to use, or you think could be improved?
  • Is there anything that frequently keeps you from starting a task on time?

Start leveraging CMMS to drive production efficiency

Maintenance is often viewed as an expense. Pivoting maintenance from a cost center to a business driver requires you to reorient maintenance as a business function and start asking how maintenance can drive production efficiency.

For effective planning of preventive maintenance based on real-time data insights, utilize software like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that centralizes maintenance information and facilitates the processes of maintenance operations. Fiix is a cloud-based, AI-powered CMMS that helps companies manage all their maintenance including thousands of assets, work orders and parts, in one place, with just a few clicks. Over 3000 companies use Fiix to maintain reliable and efficient equipment so they can make fewer capital expenditures, turn operational data info action and achieve production targets.

The reality is that good maintenance can –and will-- drive your business forward. When you keep the machines running, you can produce more, faster, with less. That means happier customers, a better bottom line and more profit for everyone in the supply chain. It’s a true win-win-win.

To learn more about utilizing Fiix, a computerized maintenance management software, visit the link below or contact us. 



Article Source: Rockwell Automation