7 Effective Strategies to initiate Proactive Maintenance Culture for Companies that use Spreadsheets


A recent (May 2017) article by Deloitte suggests that 5 to 20% of overall plant production capacity is influenced by its maintenance strategy. This is yet another proof point that maintenance should be a mainstream activity regardless of the size of the companies.

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Quite often organisations are focused on ‘here and now’ aspect of their business and adopt Run-to-failure or reactive maintenance as their key maintenance attitude.

However, many companies are unaware that proactive maintenance can enable companies to reduce their maintenance bills by up to 70%.

This article is for teams who are just starting out on their maintenance journey - It will give you a framework on how to move from reactive to proactive maintenance.

To set a reading benchmark, when talking about reducing reactive maintenance, we are referring to any maintenance activity considered as an emergency, thus requiring immediate attention.

Let’s take a look at how you can move from reactive to proactive maintenance;

#1 Make Maintenance Part of Your Business by Creating a Maintenance team. By the right team, we mean a group of people dedicated to guaranteeing RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety). This team should be formed by qualified and well-trained engineers and technicians able to properly use the asset management system, and ready to conduct failure analysis, root cause analysis and FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis), among other required activities according to the case.

#2 Design Effective Preventive and Predictive maintenance frameworks that augment your workflows. Establishing a PM and a PdM program is definitely a must to reduce reactive maintenance. Applying reliability centered maintenance analysis would be ideal; however, starting with the information from the manuals in the original equipment manufacturer and the experience of the team to create and establish the PM and PdM programs are a good starting points. The focus must be on early detection of possible failures, which is why condition monitoring technologies should be made available and should be used. To ensure these tasks are performed properly, some members of the team should be certified in some of the predictive maintenance most common techniques, such as vibration analysis, oil analysis and infrared thermography.

#3 Planning and Scheduling has a direct effect on Maintenance Framework. All the work must be well planned and scheduled. This will provide a complete step-by-step process with proper safety precautions, thus keeping workers informed, organised and safe. Some of the things the planner should keep on is a plan library, backlog management, data accuracy, among others.

#4 Formalise weekly schedule. Most of the planned work should be delegated to operators, maintainers, and to health, safety and environment personnel. This is possible by showing the weekly activities they must perform in a matrix type schedule. It is also suggested to consider creating a reactive only maintenance team to ensure reactive and proactive activities do not cross priorities. However, careful attention must be given to the fact that the reactive maintenance team should not perform low priority unscheduled activities, but only high priority reactive activities.

#5 Undertake Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). RCA analysis of critical events helps you to know whether the event was triggered due to manufacturing, operating or maintenance parameters. FMEA analysis is a systematic approach to understand when and where your assets may fail as well understand the impact of the likely failure. (If you deploy predictive analysis tools this is an automated process).

#6 Analyse Reactive Work Consistently. Reactive work cannot be fully eliminated and it is the most expensive maintenance activity, so the solution is to optimise its use. Tracking percentage of reactive work undertaken on a weekly/monthly basis acts as a mechanism to optimise it.

#7 Build valuable data. Even if you are using Spreadsheet, start to collect data about maintenance framework. As a starting point, prepare a list of faulty or damaged equipment. Record your maintenance tasks, notes from technicians, work schedules, checkups etc. Build your maintenance data so that you can correlate maintenance events. For example; you can create time-based, production-based and operating conditions-based correlations. Long-term data also compliments your confidence in your maintenance strategy

A modular approach of the above steps is highly recommended. Forming a team will almost take care of the rest of the steps. If you cannot assign a dedicated team, start with assigning time to maintenance. 5 to 20% of your operating costs can be saved with your maintenance strategy so even if you start with a plan it should (in theory) enable you to reduce your plant operating costs.

Article written for Maintworld-magazine by Prasanna Kulkarni, Founder and Product Architect of Comparesoft. Comparesoft is an AI-driven asset management software recommender used by Honda, GE, Siemens and thousands of other businesses.