Three issues facing preventive maintenance

Make sure your work doesn't actually harm your equipment.


Maintaining equipment is one of the connecting factors between all branches of manufacturing. Companies can't produce at their highest levels without machines that are in top condition and ready to produce widgets.

That said, many organizations may not be getting their money's worth from these programs. It's time to take a close-up look at the problems that commonly afflict maintenance professionals and some solutions that might help them restore their operations to helpful status.

Flaws that demand attention

When it comes to potential issues with preventive maintenance (PM) plans, the list is long. A recent Marshall Institute post made this clear: There are many ways to get PM wrong, and many leaders will find they are currently guilty of at least one of these faults. The issues can be broken down into three categories, each of which merits attention.

  • Poor timing of tasks: The source explained that sometimes PM plans don't accurately reflect the real needs of company equipment. Either tasks are being carried out too soon (wasting effort and money) or too late (letting machinery degrade or fail). This may come from creating tasks without adequately understanding the equipment in question. However such processes were set up, they need to be noted and corrected to achieve maximum efficiency.
  • Irrelevant tasks: The Marshall Institute pointed out that occasionally tasks are copied from one type of machine to another, though they might not even be relevant to the new equipment. This leads to technicians being assigned roles incorrectly, thereby misusing time that could be spent on other work. The source elaborated that in some cases, tasks are created despite having no purpose or value whatsoever.
  • Actively harmful work: In a particularly shocking category, The Marshall Institute's report explained that some carelessly assigned PM tasks involve intrusive actions and cause harm instead of good. While it's one thing to waste time and money on meaningless tasks, ending up with processes that actually weaken machinery should be actively sought out and serve as a lesson for training initiatives.

It's clear that there are a variety of problems that can pop up inside an existing PM strategy. That said, companies have an opportunity to improve current programs. A few simple upgrades can bring a new level of discipline. Selecting a modern CMMS with a true mobile app is a leading forward direction for teams, though not one that every firm has undertaken. A recent Plant Engineering study of manufacturers found that only 51% of companies have CMMS in place now. This figure seems far too low, given the advancement in cloud technology that is so readily available today.

Seizing the opportunity

Don't be mistaken, CMMS may not be able to correct all human errors when it comes to a flawed PM strategy. But the level of automation built into powerful applications now can significantly assist in reducing inaccuracies. For example, predictive maintenance (PdM) technology can ensure that tasks are scheduled when machines need the work-whether due to meter readings that exceed thresholds or fall below limits. Combine PdM with calendar-based PMs scheduled in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and historical performance, and task timing issues can be close to becoming eliminated.

Similarly, automated approval processes can require new PMs and their related tasks and steps to be reviewed prior to work initiation. By adding a layer of review and accountability to the process, irrelevant tasks have a greater likelihood of being caught before potentially damaging work is performed.

If your PM strategy is resulting in issues, adopting the proposed solutions above-as well as other aspects of innovative CMMS-can be one of the most beneficial actions to take. There are many things that can go wrong in maintenance, but a few simple steps can change conditions immeasurably.

This article originally appeared on Smartware's blog. Smartware Group is a CFE Media content partner.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me