7 Key Steps to an Effective Maintenance Management Plan

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It’s no secret that reducing downtime in asset-heavy industries equates to higher profits. Whereas more maintenance leads to lower downtime. But why do so many companies find it difficult to produce an effective maintenance management plan?

Pressures on budgets and resources can lead to too much effort spent on keeping production operational, instead of investing in tune-ups. As a result, maintenance strategy plans get put on hold to deal with the next big order. Businesses then have no choice but to fall back on to reactive maintenance programs out of necessity.

Assessing the true cost of reactive maintenance is essential when deciding how much to invest in an improved maintenance strategy. One study estimates that in the long-term, reactive maintenance costs 2-5 times more than proactive maintenance. Another shows that teams spend 35-45% of their time on reactive maintenance, compared to the industry rule-of-thumb of 20%. but, what steps should a maintenance leader take to improve their maintenance strategy?

The Different Types of Maintenance Management

What are the different types of maintenance strategies?

Corrective/Reactive Maintenance

Corrective and Reactive Maintenance are usually grouped together. Both strategies tend to be unplanned and sporadic in nature with the goal of identifying, isolating, and fixing a fault. Reactive maintenance involves rectifying a fault that has caused a failure of the equipment, e.g. a stopped production line. Although Reactive maintenance actions will get equipment up-and-running again, it does not mean it will be running optimally.

Also Read: What is Reactive Maintenance and How to Reduce it with CMMS »

Reactive maintenance occurs to fix a fault that has been identified but is not (yet) causing the system to run out of acceptable ranges. A good example of this could be replacing an overly sensitive sensor.

In the short-term, costs are low and planning is minimal. In the long-term, however, downtime costs increase as well as asset lifetime decreases and unplanned additional costs spiral. This does not mean that a corrective or reactive maintenance management plan is always the wrong choice. If the failure of a piece of equipment will not cause downtime or safety risks, the extra cost of preventive maintenance may not be worth the investment.

The life cycle of an asset

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves periodic checkups with the intention of preventing failures before they happen. Preventive maintenance can use time intervals, usage intervals, or condition-based through performance and parameter monitoring. Preventive maintenance typically involves planned downtime for servicing or replacing a component.

Also Read: What is Preventive Maintenance & How it can Reduce Downtime »

Some preventive maintenance is mandatory, according to legal regulations or contract conditions. On the one hand, preventive maintenance improves fault detection and reduces reactive maintenance actions. For usage or time-based intervals, preparing a maintenance schedule does not require any complicated software. On the other hand, such a schedule can become redundant and costly, leading to “over-maintenance”.

Predictive Maintenance

A predictive maintenance management plan aims to stop the “over-maintenance” of preventive methods performing maintenance only when it is necessary. This is done by monitoring equipment conditions with techniques such as:

  • Vibration analysis: Vibrations can indicate imminent failure
  • Acoustic analysis: To detect liquid or gas leaks
  • Oil analysis: Oil particle size can determine equipment state
  • Infrared thermography: To detect unusually high temperatures

Also Read: What is Predictive Maintenance & How to Deploy an Effective PdM Program »

Effective predictive maintenance leads to a ‘Just In Time’ maintenance management plan which maximises equipment availability in relation to maintenance time. It is the recommended option for critical assets with sporadic or unpredictable failure intervals. However, it requires extensive monitoring and monitoring equipment. This can be both time-consuming and unaffordable for many businesses. With the rise of the Internet of Things and digitalisation, effective predictive maintenance is more achievable than ever before.

Prescriptive Maintenance

The latest development in maintenance strategies is only a few years old. Predictive maintenance uses equipment condition to recommend the optimum time for maintenance. Prescriptive maintenance, however, also analyses millions of data points to determine the best course of action.

Predictive maintenance may tell you that when a component is likely to fail according to its temperature profile. Prescriptive analysis, however, could tell you that a 10% drop in pressure could give you 50% more running time before failure. Prescriptive maintenance is still in its initial stages. Nevertheless, improved artificial intelligence and machine learning make it an area of great potential.

Reliability-Centred Maintenance

Reliability-centred maintenance is a business-wide strategy. It can incorporate all of the types mentioned above. It aims to optimise maintenance strategy – all pieces of equipment should safely fulfil their function in the most cost-effective way. Effectively, reliability-centred maintenance involves the constant improvement of a business’s overall maintenance management strategy.

A perfectly planned maintenance management plan needs the parts and technicians

The 7 Steps to an Effective Maintenance Management Plan

1. Prioritise the Reasons for Downtime

The first step of any change in strategy is understanding what you are working with. In order to successfully transition to a more efficient maintenance strategy, you must gather data on the current state of affairs.

Assess your current level of Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), spare part expenditure, machine downtime, equipment usage, and technician response time. If you have already invested in computerised maintenance management solution (CMMS) software, this step will be easier than if you have been relying on spreadsheets or manual methods.

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With this information in hand, you can calculate the cost of one hour of downtime. One hour of downtime of a critical asset will be far more expensive than one hour of downtime for a less essential machine. One way to better assess current downtime is to calculate average downtime cost per hour for inessential, average, and critical components.

2. Adopt a Personalised Maintenance Strategy

Once the cost of downtime has been quantified, you can then put a value on maintenance. Any business has to balance competing priorities for where budget should be allocated. When margins are tight, maintenance is too frequently slashed. Everyone knows that more maintenance results in higher availability and less downtime, but it’s easier to make a case with concrete figures.

Comparing cost per hour of downtime with current availability will give you a reasonable estimate for the value of increased availability. Especially for critical assets, you may find that a couple of percentage points increase in availability offers considerable value to the business.

Not all maintenance management plans are created equally, however. A prescriptive maintenance schedule powered by machine learning may be a smart investment for your most critical assets. For inessential components that do not affect safety, reactive or corrective maintenance may be the most cost-effective route. Whatever the chosen strategy, cost-benefit analysis requires accurate quantification of both the cost and the benefits.

3. Invest in a Computerised Maintenance Management Solution (CMMS)

In the modern manufacturing environment, digitalisation is no longer just an option. Preventive, corrective and reactive maintenance can be managed using spreadsheets and manual methods. The implementation of cost-effective and efficient predictive maintenance, however, requires more computational power.

Also Read: 7 Key CMMS Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Software »

Fortunately for business owners, CMMS software is more accessible, user-friendly, and affordable than ever before. The switch towards cloud-based technologies means that hefty capital investments in on-premise systems are no longer necessary. The transition to the monthly -as-a-Service model at a variety of price points means businesses of all sizes can find a solution that works for them.

4. Adopt a Digital Maintenance Schedule

With data and software in hand, you can then start moving from reactive to proactive. Your CMMS software and last maintenance dates will give you your initial preventive maintenance schedule.

Schedule planning is imperative to avoid double-booking a technician maximising effectiveness. Remember that a reactive maintenance management plan will not be eliminated. A general rule of thumb is to estimate at least 20% of maintenance time for reactive tasks.

5. Synchronise Work Orders, Technicians, Spare-Parts and Maintenance Programmes

A perfectly planned maintenance management plan is useless if you do not have the parts or technicians you need to carry it out.

Synchronise Work Orders, Technicians, Spare-Parts and Maintenance Programmes

Maintenance typically requires the consumption of materials. Whether simple or complex, the parts to complete a task should be on hand before the task is started. All businesses face the decision of risking tying up too much value in the parts warehouse vs extending downtime due to out of stock parts. Maintenance cannot be efficient without robust spare parts management.

Spare parts inventory should be subject to the same rigorous analysis as your overall maintenance strategy. What parts are slow-moving or obsolete? Are excess parts being kept to satisfy high-risk aversion? What do you even have on hand, anyway? One investigation found duplicate items in a given site ranged from 5-15%. Most CMMS options support a level of spares inventory management.

Staff is another point of contention for many manufacturing operations. In-house, outsource, or a combination? If you discover you do not have enough in-house staff to carry out your scheduled maintenance tasks, outsourcing from a third-party can be a cost-effective option. Many companies also use outsourcing to deal with highly specialised tasks which only occur a few times a year.

6. Track Short-Term KPIs and Build Long Term Maintenance Programmes

It’s no secret that what gets measured gets managed. Simply tracking metrics can lead to improvements as more operators and managers are mindful of KPIs. However, tracking is just the first part of the optimisation equation. Solid data is the foundation for effective improvement.

A key advantage of CMMS software is that metric tracking is taken care of with minimal administration. KPIs like Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), Planned Maintenance Percentage (PMP) and system availability are calculated automatically. CMMS software also comes with predefined reports and graphics which give stakeholders a clear picture of progress and problem areas.

Experts recommend spending a few weeks tracking the current state of affairs before implementing changes to strategy. This will function as a baseline which can be measured against future performance to create a more effective maintenance management plan.

7. Make Data-Driven Adjustments to Maintenance Plan

With a clear picture of your performance baseline, the effect of new changes can be measured over days, weeks and months. Experts recommended introducing one or two new changes at a time to limit the number of variables that affect your metrics. This also helps isolate any changes which ultimately have negative effects.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is not necessary to carry out a complete overhaul all at once. Budget constraints may have you performing preventive maintenance on initially before introducing more effective predictive maintenance techniques. Tracking predictive maintenance effectivity for one or two important assets can help you determine if and when it should be implemented across more machines. Reliability centred maintenance analysis offers a framework for improving company-wide strategy.

How CMMS Software can Improve Maintenance Management

Making sweeping changes to a manufacturing operation is a daunting task. Companies of all sizes rightly consider the hassle and risk of failure too great. Nevertheless, the increasingly competitive environment means no manufacturer can risk being left behind.

Fortunately for today’s businesses, the teething problems of the first adopters have been ironed out. Small businesses are no longer locked out of technology solutions due to cost. Predictive methods are more accurate than ever. A maintenance management plan can truly be personalised to the business involved.