February 14, 2012
By Mark Jolley, Manager of Consulting Services, Marshall Institute
One of the best ways of improving our response time in critical breakdown mode is to have our tools and parts well organized. When a critical piece of equipment has gone down unexpectantly, we as maintenance professionals are forced into an EMT (Emergency Maintenance Technicians) role. We are expected to repair the broken equipment ASAP. This type of maintenance is never our preferred maintenance strategy but it happens and we should be prepared for it.
There are some things we can do to prepare for breakdown, or emergency maintenance. We should use the model of our local rescue squads or fire departments. Their philosophy is to be prepared for every conceivable emergency. They do this by storing a wide array of medications, first aid dressings, and equipment within their mobile trucks. Everything is stored according to frequency of use. What gets used the most is stored closest to the door so it can be accessed quickly. They have equipment stored according to symptoms. If they roll up on a car accident for example, they have quick response bags organized to best treat wounds often associated with such accidents. Likewise, if they respond to a possible heart attack, they have a kit or quick response bag prepared for that too. We can prepare for breakdown maintenance in much the same way as Emergency Response Teams respond to accidents.
First, we should develop a list of our critical equipment so that we can develop an emergency contingency plan for each piece of equipment. We should build emergency kits and store them so that they can be accessed to quickly in case the case of an emergency breakdown. These kits should include such things as: critical spare parts, any special tooling required for repairs, equipment schematics, job plans for the most common breakdowns, lock out/tag out procedures, etc.
Breakdowns are going to happen. With a little thought and pre-work, we can greatly reduce downtime usually associated with emergency breakdowns.