Three ways to improve your proactive maintenance plan

Plant managers should challenge old beliefs about maintenance and adopt new ones.
By Mike Gehloff May 16, 2014
1. We are all capable of preventing or containing every single failure that may occur: PLE1405_WEB_ARG Post_v2: Courtesy of ARG

Manufacturing managers have to believe that with careful study and continual refinement, each and every failure can be addressed either through redesign or careful application of a proactive maintenance task.

2. More proactive maintenance is not necessarily better than less proactive maintenance:

Many times we carpet bomb our equipment with way too many proactive maintenance tasks performed too frequently. Nobody cares how many proactive maintenance tasks you perform; they only care about safety, cost, and uptime. When we perform too many proactive maintenance tasks, we diminish the credibility of the really important tasks with non-value-added tasks. We must continue to find the right balance between tasks that will predict and prevent failures.

3. The details beneath the task matter:

If we want to predict and control failures, we can no longer afford to send out people with task descriptions that read, “check the gearbox.”  We need to understand there is a right way and a wrong way to perform tasks, and statements such as “check the gearbox” leave too much to the imagination. In situations such as this, I often get pushback that sounds something like “you have to understand, every one of our mechanics has been here for more than 30 years, and they know how to inspect a gearbox.”

We need to get quantitative with our task descriptions (see the graphic). Once we get quantitative, we have a baseline to build upon. We need to realize that “continuous improvement" of our proactive maintenance program is not some buzzword that we toss around in meetings when we are trying to impress our boss. It must become the core of who we are as an organization. Improving these tasks is a career-long commitment, and we never lack for opportunities to learn and improve.

Mike Gehloff is a principal at the Allied Reliability Group and a former maintenance and reliability director. Edited by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, associate content manager, CFE Media, jdmahs@cfemedia.com