Facing a problem while it is small and manageable is always better than delaying action and facing the problem when it’s much bigger, especially in maintenance. Planned preventative maintenance (PPM) is one of the best ways for companies to take a proactive posture toward problem solving. The benefits of proactively dealing with known future problems are many, but they ultimately translate into better capacity for planning, less downtime, and greater reliability. PPM isn’t industry-specific and A&D, automotive, and medical device manufacturers alike can all avail themselves of the benefits that come with PMM implementation.
What Is Planned Preventative Maintenance?
PPM is a strategy that many companies use to schedule maintenance for their machines before the point where they break down. PPM is a maintenance strategy that performs maintenance on a regular basis and reduces the likelihood of unplanned failures and unplanned downtime. It allows companies to plan ahead for inventory, output, replacement parts, and other maintenance overhead. It also gives companies peace of mind to know that their technicians are solving problems before they can ever materialize. There are essentially two different types of maintenance: time-based and usage-based.
Time-based PPM is completed at regular intervals with the aid of preventative maintenance software. Even when on maintenance schedules, technicians should be proactively reviewing critical machinery for unexpected “wear and tear” and potential points of failure. Regular equipment checks, even outside of those required by the maintenance schedule, are still good practices to help decrease breakdowns.
Usage-based PPM relies on machine production averages and statistics to determine when maintenance is needed. No single system is better than another and the two are often used in consort in a “whichever comes first” manner.
The Benefits of Planned Preventative Maintenance
There are many benefits to PPM and it should be noted that PPM is often an indicator of the quality and reliability of a business. Manufacturers who take their job seriously will almost always have planned preventative maintenance schedules in place. This is a broader indicator of a company that proactively solves problems and doesn’t wait for breakdowns to happen before addressing them.
Reduce Production Downtime
First and foremost, PPM reduces the risk of interruption to production lines and throughput by reducing the likelihood of breakdowns. Different assets and pieces of machinery represent different levels of criticality so it would be unfair to say that the downstream effects of different breakdowns are equal in effect. However, the problems with critical machinery may cause the entire production line to come to a total standstill. This has massive implications for downstream manufacturers and may end up costing the company hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in fees imposed by tier 1 suppliers or OEMs. PPM gets as close as possible to completely eliminating this risk.
Extend the Machinery’s Useful Life
In addition to reducing downtime, PPM also extends the machinery’s useful life. When one component within a machine fails, it can frequently cause a cascade of other failures. For example, a cooling unit could fail which can cause the entire machine to overheat which can cause damage to the machinery beyond just the cooling unit. Additionally, a longer useful life will translate into fewer pieces of machinery needed during the life of the company. PPM can increase useful life beyond amortization schedules and ultimately result in a small absolute number of equipment purchases.
Organize Workforce Management
PPM also helps plan the workforce—both technicians as well as machine operators and line workers. Having planned maintenance means avoiding unplanned downtime and inefficient use of human resources. Having a reactive maintenance schedule means waiting for technicians to arrive as well as underutilizing the floor workers’ time who would otherwise be productive. With PPM Overseeing engineers and floor workers will have a clear schedule with minimal interruptions.
Create a Healthier and Safer Workspace
Running afoul of OSHA rules and being the subject of unsafe working conditions complaints costs time, money, and employee morale. These issues are also easily avoidable with the correct forethought and attention to detail. PPM, in addition to reducing unplanned downtime, also reduces the likelihood of injury to the manufacturer’s employees by maintaining the equipment in proper working order. Not only are safe working environments the ethical way of doing business, but this also helps reduce the risks of lawsuits and paying disability.
Plan Costs Efficiently
Reactive maintenance creates an unknown cost in several different ways. First, manufacturers will not know how much it will cost to purchase replacement parts or how much time it will take the technicians to perform the maintenance. Second, every minute of downtime, especially on a critical piece of machinery, means lost dollars in opportunity cost. Planning and scheduling PPM turns the unknown into a concrete number by planning exactly which parts will need replacement, how much labor it will take, and approximately how long the machine will be out of service. With this information, the manufacturer can plan additional replacement inventory, production inventory, and throughput to make up for the repair time. What would otherwise be an extremely variable cost can now be expected and planned for.
Preventative Maintenance Software
Preventative maintenance software is a crucial component of performing PPM. Many manufacturers have hundreds of different machines that need maintenance and spreadsheets are simply insufficient to track all of the inputs, outputs, and maintenance schedules. Using preventative maintenance software helps the engineering team understand which machines need maintenance, which parts need to be replaced, and how long it will take. In other words, preventative maintenance software is the glue that holds PPM efforts together and keeps the management, employees, and engineering team on the same page.
Steps for Preventative Maintenance
Even if a company don’t have software to manage preventative maintenance and timing, there are some low-tech steps to reduce equipment downtime in the plant.
As a plant builds out a framework for preventative maintenance, it makes sense to start with the highest priority equipment. It’s best to start by tracking equipment with the longest cycle times, no back-up equipment available, long lead times for parts as well as those with high complexity and cost of repairs.
To implement proactive preventative maintenance, follow the “PERFORM” approach:
- Plan: Develop a PPM schedule that outlines maintenance tasks, machinery or equipment involved, and due dates. Assign responsibilities for maintenance tasks to specific employees.
- Examine: Encourage employees to continuously monitor equipment for signs of wear and tear or other issues, and to report problems immediately. This creates a culture of proactive maintenance and problem-solving.
- Review: Conduct regular audits of the maintenance process to identify areas for improvement and reduce waste. This involves analyzing the maintenance schedule, identifying ways to optimize the use of resources, and finding ways to prevent problems from recurring.
- Foster: Encourage cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing to improve the effectiveness of the maintenance process. When operators, supervisors, engineers and maintenance teams talk, problems get solved faster and true root-causes are identified.
- Optimize: Collect and analyze data on equipment failure rates, maintenance task completion rates, and other relevant metrics. Use this data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.
- Refine: Standardize the maintenance process, including the schedule of tasks, the tools and techniques used, and the documentation of maintenance activities.
- Motivate: Encourage employees to suggest improvements to the maintenance process and to implement small changes to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Celebrate wins!
PPM is just one part of a larger area of operational efficiency called logistics. Logistics manages the flow of material, labor, and energy into, through, and out of a factory. Ensuring that critical machinery experiences minimal disruption only serves to maximize the operational and logistical efficiency of a given manufacturing facility. Companies that find they have consistent issues with breakdowns and inefficient logistics may find it useful to hire an operations consulting firm like Seraph. Our team of specialized operational consultants works alongside manufacturers and acts as a support structure to optimize logistics and operations. Our advisors are former management at many suppliers and OEMs and are experts in production, operational efficiency, and crisis management. Contact us today to schedule a discovery call, or see our case studies for more information.