From automotive assembly lines to food packaging factories, businesses rely heavily on their equipment to keep their operations productive and profitable. When equipment failures do occur, the cost isn’t just replacement or repair of the equipment, but the loss of productivity suffered by the disruption – a cost which can be much higher than the repair.
Thus, when you examine how to maximize the ROI of your equipment, you need to think not just about the cost of the equipment versus upkeep, but what types of issues will most impact your business’ bottom line. To do this effectively, you need to:
- Track key maintenance metrics so you can make the best maintenance decisions possible
- Follow maintenance best practices to ensure equipment is in peak condition
- Employ preventative or predictive maintenance to reduce downtime
Maintenance Best Practices
Poorly maintained equipment runs inefficiently and will be more likely to break down unexpectedly. Having strong and consistent maintenance practices will extend the life of the machinery and improve its ROI. The following equipment maintenance should be done on a regularly scheduled basis to ensure that your equipment remains in peak operating condition.
- Test lubricants frequently – Lubricants reduce friction around moving parts and is one of the most important maintenance checks.
- Temperature checks - Heat is often a symptom of eminent machine failure or malfunction. Checking the temperature of your equipment on a daily or weekly inspection routine can help you identify a pending component failure.
- Sensory analysis – Become familiar with the machinery and “normal” sounds of that machine. This will help you identify unusual sounds, which can be indicative of a mechanical issue.
- Vibration – Through the use of vibration analysis you can detect mechanical misalignment or looseness.
Key Equipment Maintenance Metrics
The first step to understanding how your maintenance operations may be impacting the life of your equipment and the total cost of ownership is through data that can reveal the cost of specific impacts. These include:
- Work order response times – How long it takes to find, report, and resolve a problem in your facility can indicate whether your maintenance processes need refining.
- Backlog of deferred maintenance – Deferred maintenance that is unresolved can lead to larger and more expensive equipment repairs, which can lead to higher total costs of ownership.
- Ratio of proactive versus reactive maintenance – The cost of reactive maintenance is often higher than proactive maintenance due to the unexpected downtime and the need to wait for parts.
- Mean Time to Failure – By tracking the length of time between equipment failure, you can gain insight into the reliability of an asset and be able to better predict its future performance. This metric can also help you when scheduling preventative maintenance to ensure you don’t run-to-failure or over-maintain your assets.
- Mean Time to Repair – By understanding the average time that is required to restore failed equipment to working order, you gain insight into what types of equipment failures most impact production, how long production is interrupted, and how planned versus reactive maintenance can impact time to repair.
Next, you will want to look at your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). This KPI is used to quantify how well a manufacturing unit performs relative to its designed capacity. OEE uses three separate components – availability, performance, and quality – to measure what a plant’s equipment is capable of under perfect conditions. While no manufacturing process can realistically run at 100 percent OEE, the metric can be used as a standard against which to benchmark your manufacturing operations.
Combining your OEE KPI with the metrics listed above will give greater insight into your plant’s operational efficiency and enable you to better understand what types of issues are creating the greatest expense to maintaining your assets. For example, you may determine that the cost of downtime (availability) is higher than the cost of errors (quality). With this knowledge you can then apply maintenance best practices to minimize the costliest production disruptions and equipment failures.
To check for these issues, you can either use manual measurement techniques such as handheld tools or you can use sensors to create continuous online monitoring and automated alerts. Both options will allow you to identify problems ahead of time so that you can reduce downtime, order spare parts in advance, and improve work order response times.