Equipment Maintenance: Goals, Types, Program Setup
Every piece of equipment in use will suffer from wear and tear that will ultimately lead to equipment failure. Equipment maintenance is not here only to postpone that point of failure, but to also be prepared for the moment it happens.
Let’s take a look at why proper equipment maintenance is so important, outline the most popular maintenance strategies, and look at how to set up a cost-effective equipment maintenance program.
What is equipment maintenance and why it matters
The best way to define equipment maintenance is to look at what it is trying to achieve. The main goal of equipment maintenance is to keep equipment in optimal working order. When proper regular maintenance is applied to a piece of equipment it maximizes its production output and increases its useful life.
If your maintenance department doesn’t have a proactive equipment maintenance strategy, unexpected machine malfunctions become daily challenges that lead to:
The good news is that implementing an effective maintenance strategy is easier than ever. Before we get to that, let’s first review the most common strategies you can apply to keep your equipment in pristine condition.
Types of equipment maintenance
There are a few different types of maintenance strategies that developed over the years. We wrote extensively about most of them. In this chapter, we’re going to briefly outline each one and give you a link to a resource that explains it in more detail.
Run-to-failure strategy: Represents a reactive approach to maintenance. Using this strategy, you consciously decide to use a piece of equipment until it breaks down. It is suitable for equipment with low repair costs and when equipment breakdown won’t cause big operational issues (like production delays). Can be used on critical equipment you plan to replace after the next breakdown.
Preventive maintenance strategy: A good overall strategy for most types of equipment. Easiest and cheapest proactive maintenance strategy to implement and run. It is a great first step for all businesses that look to transition from reactive to proactive maintenance.
Condition-based maintenance (CBM) strategy: When implementing condition-based maintenance, you have to purchase and install condition monitoring sensors on your equipment. These sensors give you real-time insight into the health of your assets. This helps you optimize your maintenance schedule by having a better idea of when a piece of equipment should be serviced.
Predictive maintenance (PdM) strategy: Predictive maintenance is like an upgraded version of CBM (does the same thing, but better). It involves using predictive analytics and algorithms (based on data coming from condition monitoring sensors) to predict exactly when a piece of equipment is expected to fail so you can schedule maintenance just before that happens.
Total productive maintenance (TPM): Total productive maintenance is a strategy predominantly used in the manufacturing sector. TPM expands the equipment maintenance responsibility outside the maintenance team. It represents a philosophy of continuous improvement that requires the commitment and effort of the whole organization. It takes years to fully implement which is why organizations that want to go in this direction often look to implement its stripped-down version called autonomous maintenance.
Which is the best maintenance strategy to use?
In theory, predictive maintenance seems like the best option. However, PdM can be expensive, and running an expensive strategy for a relatively cheap piece of equipment is rarely worth it.
The approach you want to take is the one that takes into account the type/condition of the equipment you are using, your maintenance KPIs, and your available resources.
In practice, the best approach is often a combination of different strategies. Most organizations will first start with preventive maintenance and then slowly incorporate more advanced strategies like CBM and PdM when people successfully adopt that proactive mindset.
Implementing effective equipment maintenance program
It is no secret that maintenance managers are constantly under pressure to provide adequate results with limited budgets. This sometimes incentivizes them to buy the cheapest assets available, which is a short-sighted move. Cheaper assets tend to break down more often and like to eat up a lot more of your maintenance resources over time.
Why does this matter? We are trying to show how the amount of needed equipment maintenance correlates with the quality of equipment you buy. Balancing between maintenance costs and investments is something that needs to be on a maintenance manager’s mind every day.
Quality of equipment aside, some level of maintenance will always be required. Let’s see how to set up an equipment maintenance program.
The following steps will be based on the assumption that an organization has already implemented a CMMS software. This is because we believe that it is almost impossible to run an effective maintenance program without a centralized maintenance platform and all of the features that come with it. If you don’t know what a CMMS is check out our What is a CMMS System and How Does it Work guide.
1) Create an inventory of equipment
Every piece of equipment that will be on a proactive maintenance plan should be entered into your CMMS system.
The reasons for that are twofold. First, if you want to create a work order for a specific piece of equipment, it is much easier to do that if the equipment is already in your CMMS database. The second thing is the asset history. One of the main advantages computerized maintenance management systems have over paper records is that they automatically save asset history which you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.
2) Select which maintenance strategy will be applied to which piece of equipment
When you have a list of equipment that needs to be maintained regularly, it’s time to create the maintenance schedule. Before you do that, you should spend a little time deciding which maintenance strategies are available to you.
As mentioned earlier, most organizations will start with an all-encompassing preventive maintenance strategy. However, if you have the budget for it, purchasing a few sensors for your most critical pieces of equipment is a welcome bonus.
3) Create the equipment maintenance schedule
Equipment maintenance schedule is a center point of any equipment maintenance program. It controls which maintenance actions should be taken, when, and by whom.
As such, the maintenance calendar should provide a clear overview of all incoming and in-progress maintenance work. On top of that, it should also give an easy way to quickly schedule routine activities, easily reschedule any maintenance task, as well as change task priorities with just a click or two.
When creating the first preventative maintenance plan, you can review OEM manuals and follow the instructions given there. You should also consult with your technicians to check if certain assets have any long-standing issues that need to be taken into account.
If you are using CBM or PdM, part of your maintenance schedule will be based on data coming from sensors and predictive algorithms respectively.
Whichever strategy you apply, there will always be a set of routine maintenance tasks that will need to be scheduled and carried out consistently.
4) Define maintenance checklists and procedures
Maintenance greatly benefits from standardization as it includes a lot of repetitive tasks carried out on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They can be streamlined by defining:
All of these should be communicated to the employees that need to use them and can even be attached to specific work orders when deemed necessary.
5) Train your maintenance team
A plan means absolutely nothing if you do not have the ability to execute it. Technicians should be able to read and understand the maintenance plan and have the necessary knowledge to follow the outlined maintenance procedures. They must also know how to use CMMS and any other digital solutions you’ve implemented.
When switching from reactive to proactive maintenance services, the organization should make extra effort to ensure all maintenance personnel is on board with the idea. In the first few months, it is important to check if technicians are following new procedures, logging everything they need in the equipment maintenance log, and use the available CMMS features correctly. This serves to correct bad habits before they become ingrained.
6) Analyze and improve
It would be a bit arrogant to think everything will work perfectly from the first try. Regular review of maintenance performance metrics and other indicators is necessary for eliminating inefficiencies and problems in your current plan.
The maintenance software you’re using should be able to give you enough data to successfully optimize your equipment maintenance program over time.
Be it an HVAC unit in your office, a car you use to get to work, or a machine in your production line, equipment maintenance is here to ensure every asset can do what is supposed to do.
With a little bit of joint effort from your maintenance team and a helping hand from the right CMMS, you can have a valid equipment maintenance program in less than a month.
If you have any questions about Limble CMMS and its ability to support your equipment management efforts, reach out to us today.
"Our team reviewed & demoed 6 different CMMS companies and the decision was easy! The functionality was extremely easy, but still provides the analytics needed to track our companies time and money spent on maintenance. Their support is top-notch! I've dealt with numerous software companies in my position and can tell you, you will not find one better!"
— Jason Mathern
Great user friendly product
"Love the fact that the product can be used on my phone, tablet, and laptop. It also has made several updates to make an even better product."
— Dave Stern
Wow. You guys are amazing...
"Wow. You guys are amazing... your software really one-up's the competition. I've found several with some of the functionality, but much clunkier designs. I reviewed 16 CMMS packages, and yours was an easy choice. Thank you again. Well done."
— Loren Overby
Five star program
"This is one of the most easiest CMM Systems I have used. With unbelievable response times to questions. The Limble staff is very helpful. With this system, our equipment downtime has been cut by 20%."
— Gordon Shanks
Sunbelt Forest Products
It takes me about 10 seconds.
"Limble made my job easier pretty much right off the bat. Now I create Work Orders on the fly. It takes me about 10 seconds."
— Fraser Cockell
Great Product, Even better support!
"I started using Limble after trying out many other off the shelf CMMS software and I quickly fell in love with the ease of use, intuitiveness yet the power this tool provided me and my team. The ability to see automatically generated and customized reports meant that I could choose whether I wanted to see things at a micro level or a macro one, or both of them together."
— Mohammad Hassaan Akram
Great product at a great price
"Terrific customer service, easy to use, and at a great value. Our old Maintenance software was very difficult to use and was very expensive."
— Brian Williams
It just works
"Honestly - the customer support has been fabulous. We had a minor feature request that was deployed within 24 hours - which is unheard of. Even better when you consider our business is located in a completely different time zone (somewhere in Australia). Limble is quite intuitive and I love the ability to have assets nested within each other."
— Ed Cronin
A must for any maintenance department
"The thing that I loved the most right from the start was the ease of use of the Limble software. The customization options available when setting up PM's are great. I love the flexibility it gives to tailor the PM to exactly what your needs are."
— Richard Dunaway
Great for smaller or larger facilities
"We haven't fully integrated Limble yet but we are already seeing improvements in our efficiency. As we fully integrate Limble we expect to see more benefits and increase our response and completion times. The customer support has been outstanding. The Limble team is very quick to respond to any questions and they are very open to suggestions."
— Mike Hill
Children's Home of Lubbock
A great tool for Facility Managers.
"Limble is very easy to get involved in and no contracts, with simple monthly billing. I have auditioned other CMMS companies and they make it too difficult, to try out. Limble strategy is very simple - here is our software, you can customize it in most categories and let us know if you have any questions. As a multiple building County Facilities Director, I highly recommend trying it!"
— Michael Boursier
The best value available in CMMS Software
"This software is very easy to use. All CMMS suppliers say that, but I found this one to be exactly that. This software, in my opinion, is the best value out there in the CMMS world. My team of maintenance techs got on board quickly and loves the app. Anytime you can get 8 of 8 maintenance techs to get on board, you have a winner."