World-class maintenance: Opportunities and challenges

Most discussions of world-class maintenance have a rather lengthy list of ingredients that must be in place to qualify as such. Our experiences suggest which key ingredients should be pursued to establish a world-class maintenance program. We include five simple ingredients in our proposed approach: 1.


Most discussions of world-class maintenance have a rather lengthy list of ingredients that must be in place to qualify as such. Our experiences suggest which key ingredients should be pursued to establish a world-class maintenance program. We include five simple ingredients in our proposed approach:

1. View maintenance as a profit center . This suggests that the maintenance organization must be treated as a key element in your business strategy and plans for achieving profit targets. Maintenance, like any organization function (design, manufacturing or marketing), incurs costs in performing its routine tasks. But recognize that routine (i.e., scheduled) maintenance tasks, when properly performed, have the capability to dramatically affect the ability to achieve or exceed targeted production output.

This means, among other things, that operations (production) and maintenance must be treated as equals. No longer should operations dictate when maintenance can or cannot be done. Rather, there must be decisions made for the common good, and each must respect the other’s role in meeting customer demands (i.e., the “real” customer, the one who pays your salaries). No longer should maintenance feel that its one and only customer is operations %%MDASSML%% it is not!

2. Focus resources for best ROI . Use a structured and systematic process for deciding where you must spend the vast majority of your proactive resources in order to realize the best ROI. After 20 years of research and applications that address the issue, we are convinced beyond any doubt that the classical RCM process is the correct way to make those decisions.

When properly employed, the RCM process not only identifies where in your plant or facility the bad actor (80/20) systems reside, but also pinpoints exactly where in those systems you must take action to ensure that they behave in a reliable fashion.

3. Avoid intrusive maintenance . In a separate but related issue, our comprehensive review of current preventive maintenance practices employed by our clients reveals that the majority of current PM tasks involve some form of intrusive action on the part of the craft technicians. These intrusive actions tend to generate return service calls up to 50% of the time due to errors created by the intrusion.

We believe that a world-class maintenance program will employ every possible method and/or technology to reduce intrusive actions to a minimum until it is absolutely necessary to cross the boundary of an equipment item for servicing. This means that maximum use will be made of condition-directed tasks, including the application of the ever-expanding field of predictive maintenance technology.

4. Measure results . A major problem in most of the current maintenance programs that we have personally witnessed is their inability to effectively collect and use data that describe certain fundamental items of technical and cost information that are necessary to manage and control the maintenance program. Some of the important information items would include the following:

  • Identify those PM tasks that were defined by an RCM study so that their effectiveness in reducing or eliminating CM can be continually evaluated

  • Collect meaningful equipment history files in order to establish time-failure profiles and as-found equipment conditions. Then adjust the intervals assigned to PM tasks, and initiate root-cause failure studies as may seem appropriate

  • Perform automated trend analyses from Condition-Directed PM tasks, including automatic preset alarms to warn of an impending approach of critical equipment failure modes

  • Track the actual trends of maintenance costs and system availability factors in order to measure the overall impact of the maintenance optimization programs %%MDASSML%% and adjust as required

  • Use these measurements to continually adjust and improve the maintenance program.

    • 5. Employ an effective management system . Implement effective management techniques and supporting information systems that will ensure the efficient use and control of the critical support and administrative function of your maintenance organization. This support would include areas such as:

      • Work order records

      • Inventory control

      • Material and manpower usage

      • Purchasing and related logistics

      • Training

      • Craft certifications

      • Policies, procedures, and standard instructions

      • Scheduling and planning documentation.

        • The above information is most commonly acquired and procured via the implementation of a computerized maintenance management system.

          Printed with permission from Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, from RCM%%MDASSML%%Gateway to World Class Maintenance, by Anthony M. Smith, AMS Associates Inc. in California, and Glenn R. Hinchcliffe, Consulting Professional Engineer, G&S Associates Inc. in North Carolina. Copyright 2004. For more information about this title and similar titles, please visit .

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