What does your maintenance audit tell you?

Five things to review when studying your maintenance operation


Excerpted from SMGlobal’s Maintenance Software Blog

Doing an annual audit of all your maintenance activities for the last year may sound tedious, it is a good thing to do and can help you identify problem areas, scope for improvement and where you are doing really well.

  1. Collect information on all the work orders you did last year. If you have maintenance management software this will not be hard to do. The software should be able to give you a variety of analysis reports for specific periods so that you can see how you are doing. In addition you may be able to do an export of all work orders for the last year to do more detailed analysis with other tools – e.g. export to a comma delimited file, open with spreadsheet software (such as Microsoft Excel) and do more complex analysis & charting.
  2. Separate unplanned maintenance from planned/ preventative maintenance. Group all the maintenance work that was done into two “buckets” or categories – unplanned/ breakdown maintenance and planned/ preventative maintenance. These are two different types of data and they should be analyzed separately.
  3. Under unplanned work orders look for equipment that seems to be failing frequently or require a lot of unplanned maintenance. This may be a sign that the equipment needs replacement or maintenance is not being done correctly. If problems seem to occur more frequently after certain maintenance team members are doing the maintenance, it may be a sign that the maintenance work is not being done correctly. They may be skipping steps or do not have the training or experience to identify potential issues that will cause future problems. Another clue is if the work orders are being flagged as problem work orders – they are taking too much time to complete or are getting delayed because maintenance technicians are finding additional problems. Another cause could be bad spare parts. If your suppliers are sending parts that fail before their expected life – you are going to see a lot of unexpected maintenance whenever they fail!
  4. Under planned/ preventative maintenance work orders look for the equipment that seems to be taking the most of your time and money. It is possible that the equipment can be replaced with newer equipment that needs less preventive maintenance. Get an idea of how much such equipment is costing you to maintain and see if cheaper alternatives are available. Besides this check and see if some of the preventive maintenance is overkill – review manufacturer’s recommendations and see if you are doing more than is necessary.
  5. Check your maintenance parts usage. Your maintenance software should be able to give you reports of parts you have used over the year. See if you can identify possible bad batches of parts or suppliers who provide poorer quality parts. Identifying bad parts can help you identify equipment that may need pre-emptive maintenance because maintenance was done with bad parts from a bad batch. You can also drop suppliers that tend to sell poor quality parts. Spare part costs are a very significant part of most maintenance budgets and improving parts management can help save a lot of money (and time since you will have less breakdowns because of bad parts).

What You Should Learn From The Audit

At the end of your audit you should have a good idea of potential problem areas, where you can improve and where you are doing well. This kind of information becomes more valuable as you keep repeating these audits – you can see if you are performing better from year to year. While reviews at shorter periods e.g. quarterly or semi-annual are also useful, a yearly audit can help smooth out performance fluctuations caused by seasonal changes. Examples of seasonal changes are equipment running at maximum load to satisfy holiday demand or HVAC issues at the start of winter or summer – these can cause maintenance spikes that can make it hard to compare performance against a prior quarter.

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