Losing time due to machine failure or disrepair is a devastating blow for manufacturers big and small. According to Deloitte, downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion a year. To avoid these costly catastrophes, more and more manufacturers are implementing preventative maintenance on their machinery.
Let’s look at how preventative maintenance works, what the benefits are and how to create your own preventative maintenance plan for your facility.
What is Preventative Maintenance?
Of course, it’s impossible to know exactly when machines will break down. Even if a machine is new, or running smoothly, there could be an unseen issue or operational error that unexpectedly takes down your equipment. But there is a method to try and prevent these major failures before they happen.
Manufacturers are turning to preventative maintenance to keep their facilities running smoothly and increase the lifespan of their machines. It’s a method that intends to both predict and prevent major machinery issues or breakdowns. This is accomplished by creating a consistent practice of reviewing and caring for facility equipment instead of fixing issues as they occur.
Preventative vs. Reactive Maintenance
Preventative maintenance revolves around a recurring schedule of machinery preservation, where employees have a rotating roster of equipment to observe. This way, facility team members can address potential problems before it results in expensive and time-consuming downtime.
Reactive maintenance, on the other hand, is the practice of handling equipment failure as it happens. A machine breaks down, and employees identify issues after the fact and then attempt to repair them.
Yes, preventative maintenance is more of a time commitment upfront. It requires your employees to spend time routinely checking in on machinery to ensure they’re operating correctly. But while reactive maintenance saves you time in the moment, it costs you time in the long run once something goes wrong.
Types of Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is often divided into two different groups: time-based preventative maintenance and usage-based preventative maintenance.
Time-based preventative maintenance (also sometimes called “calendar-based maintenance”) refers to the amount of time that goes by between routine reviews. For example, a manufacturer may have a schedule to check and replace lightbulbs throughout their facility every month.
Usage-based preventative maintenance (also sometimes called “runtime maintenance”) creates an equipment review schedule based on how much a machine or device has been used. For example, an employee may have a task to check on and service business vehicles every 6,000 miles.
Both methods can be equally effective – it just depends on the needs of your manufacturing equipment. As you’re working to implement a preventative maintenance plan, it’s best to list the machines or areas that will require observation and decide if a time or usage-based plan will be more helpful.
Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
We know that preventative maintenance certainly takes more time and effort than reactive maintenance, along with dedication from your team to follow a recurring monitoring schedule. But with this new method, the pros still outweigh the cons.
Major benefits include:
- Cost Savings: By finding smaller issues initially and updating machines with new parts as original ones come close to breaking down, manufacturers will cut down on repair costs in the future. Preventative maintenance is actually an investment for your business in the long run, as it sincerely reduces the likelihood of major unexpected equipment failure and replacement.
- Warehouse Safety: Manufacturers are more concerned than ever about warehouse safety and the wellbeing of their employees. Workplace accidents continue to rise and often, they could have been avoided through a few easy steps. With preventative maintenance, you’re lessening the likelihood of machines hurting your employees, or worse. This kind of consistent maintenance also shows your employees that you’re invested in their health, safety and quality of life at work.
- Product Damage: There’s more to be lost with equipment failure than money. You’re losing production time, manpower and potentially, inventory. Say a storage system is incorrectly assembled, causing products to fall and break. Or an automated robot’s maintenance is ignored, leading to sparks and singed products. Without preventative maintenance, you could lose money on that inventory, which is especially disastrous if you have excess inventory that’s tying up your cashflow.
- Equipment Lifespan: When we think of the benefits of preventative maintenance, we often think about disaster scenarios. But preventative maintenance can also make the most of your machinery investments and help them reach their full potential. By sticking to a consistent monitoring schedule, you’ll keep your machines in great condition, giving them extra years on the floor and saving you money in the long run.
Building Your Preventative Maintenance Plan
It may feel a little complicated to get started with predictive maintenance. There’s consistent scheduling and a dedication to follow through that’s required to execute it successfully.
If you’re not sure where to start with your preventative maintenance plan, here are four major steps you need to take:
Start by mapping out the equipment that needs to be inspected. If it’s easier, this could include specific checklists that include multiple machines or areas, with different features that need to be reviewed.
For example, if you have trucks that need to be inspected, created a list of things that should be checked for each one (tire pressure, oil level, brakes, engine, etc.) so nothing gets missed.
These lists can now be assigned to different employees. We also suggest setting up reminders for when these checks should be performed on platforms like your WMS.
Preventative maintenance only makes a difference if your team acts on what needs to be repaired. It’s all well and good to point out potential problems, but the follow-through of replacing or maintaining that equipment is what makes this method worthwhile. Create a reporting protocol for machines that don’t pass routine inspections and a plan for how to get those issues taken care of.
Once you’ve created a routine for monitoring your machinery and a protocol for replacing or resolving any issues, it’s your job to continue to keep to this schedule. Stress the importance of these recurring checks to your team and set them up for success with reminders and clear instructions on how to complete their inspections.
High-Quality Equipment Leads to Less Maintenance
By now, we’re sure you understand how this method can save your company time and money in the long run. But here’s one more tip – by working with companies who provide reliable, high-quality machines in the first place, preventative maintenance will be even easier to execute.
At Dalmec, our durable industrial manipulators are designed to withstand the demands of your manufacturing facility. With customized options, we can build a material handler that fits your needs and will last for years to come (especially when cared for with preventative maintenance!)
Ready to learn more? Contact our team today to find the perfect manipulator for your company.