John Q. Todd, PMP, Asset Management Consultant at Total Resource Management
Assuming you have a careful plan or method in place for your preventive maintenance activities, below are a few tips to foster success.
Tip #1: Be Goal Oriented
Given that the goal of any preventive maintenance strategy is to eliminate or greatly reduce defects, losses, and downtime, any action you take needs to be related to this goal.
It is well known that most failures begin as very small and overlooked “problems” in the equipment or the environment they are in. As time marches on, these problems begin to manifest themselves to a greater degree and, if unchecked, lead to failure.
Does your approach to preventive maintenance include simple and regular “inspections and discussions,” of the equipment by staff best suited for the task? While a maintenance worker might be able to solve the problem, the person operating the equipment is in a much better position to observe and point out impending issues or perceived degradations in the performance of the equipment.
This does not mean you go looking for trouble. Rather, attention to the smaller and smaller details of equipment performance/problems over time will produce better knowledge to make decisions with and take action.
An example would be wild swings in the pressure output of a pump. To one person this is normal given the operation of the pump. To another this an indication of a big problem brewing. Who is right? This leads to our next tip…
Tip #2: Understand and Take Advantage of Available Information
How well do you understand the functions, limits, and potential failures of the equipment?
No one can be expected to know everything about everything, but knowledge abounds in today’s modern society. There is so much information available about the equipment we work with each day, there is no excuse to not take advantage of it.
Quite often equipment is expected to operate outside the conditions of its original design. No one putts around in a Ferrari. If the equipment was designed for speed, then let’s see how fast it will go.
Is part of your PM method to draw upon multiple sources of information (data, knowledge, and experience) with the equipment and how to use it under your program? Do you have access to your own data that may indicate a developing problem? Do you review your own failure reports to develop theories and perhaps make subtle changes to your approach?
Tip #3: Capture Everything… Miss Nothing
Short of following your maintenance staff around with a camera crew, with the right tools you can capture vast amounts of data/information about your equipment. In many cases equipment has built-in data capture devices/sensors that produce raw “health,” data that can be reviewed. Even better if thresholds can be set to prompt preventive maintenance activities. Let the equipment tell you when there is a developing problem vs. you having to go out and find it.
Your best source of equipment information are the brains of your crews maintaining it. Often these folks have many, many years of experience with either your specific or similar equipment. How then can you gain access to this valuable information?
Provide your teams with easy to use tools to enter “good,” and insightful information about their daily engagement with the equipment. Don’t burden them with paperwork, but rather make it easy for them to take a picture of the problem and associate it with the work at hand. Then facilitate the description, logs of the work, and the related picture available to those who perform analysis and make decisions with.
In the end, the goal of any effective preventive maintenance strategy is to eliminate or greatly reduce failures that impact your operations. With careful attention to the day to day activities and experiences around the equipment, you will be able to anticipate problems using this data and preemptively make maintenance decisions/plans before failure occurs.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or would like to discuss this more.