How to evaluate the productivity of industrial maintenance

Systematizing tasks, training staff, determining which are the most pertinent actions, and establishing adequate operational traceability are just some of the actions required for this vital area to be a real contribution to the efficiency and success of the company.

Despite its relevance and significance for commercial success, in many international companies and organizations maintenance still constitutes an area where the basic principles that regulate the efficiency of all management are ignored.

This leads to the fact that, in general, it is considered only as a “necessary failure” that does not deserve any special attention; and where technicians, supervisors and personnel in charge are, literally, subject to their own fate.

Consequently, the productivity of these tasks remains worryingly very low, with only 35% of the available time used productively on plant tasks. Likewise, poorly performed maintenance expenses continue to increase, without this reflects in greater concrete benefits for the strategic objectives.

This is undoubtedly a critical problem, since a maintenance process dominated by delays, excessive waiting times and poor coordination will always have very poor productivity. If we add the problems derived from administrative neglect or lack of motivation, the result will be a high-cost and unproductive department.

Something that is particularly complex, considering the increasing automation experienced by both productive and service companies. It is increasingly common and necessary to use high-tech equipment that includes robotics, computerized control and digital applications, among other alternatives.

All this increases the demands on the maintenance team, and although in most cases operating costs increase exponentially, this does not translate into greater operational efficiency.

This dichotomy leads to the fact that, in many situations, the top management of the company no longer relies on the existing maintenance department to maintain the new high-tech equipment, and they prefer external consultancies that can raise costs even more for this concept.

However, the extreme competitiveness that characterizes the modern industry and market demands that companies optimize their productivity to the maximum, especially in the maintenance area, in order to reach the multiple challenges associated with this condition.

Therefore, to meet this premise it is no longer enough just to achieve “circumstantial milestones”, such as adjusting to the budget or reducing operating costs, because what was successful before today may be totally insufficient.

A characteristic that currently takes on even greater relevance, given the scenario of high volatility and uncertainty that prevails in the present environment, where real efficiency requires more efforts by staff and managers.

This implies redoubling efforts to optimize general administrative management, innovating and incorporating better ideas or changes in established procedures, to reduce costs, better manage resources and be more efficient in meeting general objectives. Especially in the implementation of maintenance methodologies.

KEYS TO GOOD PRODUCTIVITY

Although this challenge may seem very complex, developing a program for more effective management of maintenance expenses relies only on maximizing three productivity factors.

1. Use:

It corresponds to the amount of time in which the resources used to carry out maintenance management are productive.

2. Methods:

It corresponds to the way these resources are used in order to be more effective and efficient.

3. Performance:

It corresponds to the level of skill and effort registered during the productive occupation.

Therefore, if the teams in charge of fulfilling maintenance tasks use a technical and analytical methodology that accurately quantifies the levels of productivity (and inefficiency) already existing in the company, it will be possible to determine the weaknesses that must be corrected, as well as the objectives to be achieved, in the short and long term.

Likewise, the team and its leaders can quantify the expected improvement potential in numerical terms, in order to the respective maintenance tasks reach their maximum administrative and operational efficiency.

IMPROVEMENT PLAN

The standard procedure that every industrial maintenance area must follow, in order to achieve the levels of productive improvement that the market demands today, involves working according to the following methodology:

A. Development of an improvement plan

• Organization

It is necessary to establish with total clarity, what are the effective steps to carry out the different maintenance tasks on the company’s equipment and facilities.

• Preventive / Predictive Maintenance

We must define, according to the characteristics of the company, its industrial infrastructure and production equipment, if it is more pertinent to apply systematic scheduled tasks, or concrete actions to prevent specific failures.

• Work order system

An order format must be friendly, understandable, and easy to use. Therefore should include order code, equipment code and location, job description, planned or assigned hours, priority, staffing, materials, tools and special equipment, and account number or cost center, among other variables. This will improve internal communications, there will be less improvisation, expectations will be better understood, performance will increase, work will be of higher quality, delays will be reduced, and supervision will be more expeditious.

• Planning + scheduling system

To prevent delays and inefficiency, a maintenance scheduling function should be developed and combined with the scheduler function. In this way, maintenance tasks can be planned and scheduled periodically, in accordance with universal standards and known to all teams in charge.

• Work tracking

The result of all preventive or corrective maintenance work must be supervised both by the teams in charge and by specialized control personnel.

• Management reports

Like work orders, they must have a clear, simple and friendly format, so that they facilitate internal communication, as well as the subsequent review of the actions developed.

• Productivity monitoring

It must adhere to a methodology that allows quantifying the effective use of labor-hours of the personnel in charge of the tasks, versus the effective results achieved during maintenance tasks, whether preventive or predictive.

B Monitoring the improvement plan

• Establish work team requirements

The objectives assigned to each team must be specifically systematized, so that its performance can be measured from objective and quantifiable parameters.

• Select the required personnel

Each task must be in charge of specialized technical personnel, so that assignments are made to those who are actually capable of carrying them out. In other words, we should always delegate by competitions and not expect more than what each team is capable of.

• Train everyone involved (team, supervisors, workers)

To ensure greater efficiency, the training of all technical personnel must be constant and permanent, so that the skills of both the maintenance teams and their supervisors are equivalent to the current progressive technological development.

• Develop and / or validate:

– The organization or way in which maintenance actions will be systematized.

– The work norms or rules followed by the teams in charge, and their supervisors.

– The work order system, or the diagrams that technicians must follow when recording the actions they must carry out, and those that they actually carried out.

– The preventive and predictive maintenance system applied, according to the characteristics of the machinery used and the failures that we must prevent or predict.

– The planning and programming system, to achieve a better systematization and scheduling of tasks.

– The reporting system that we must follow to maintain communication more effective between the maintenance teams and their supervisors.

– The procedures used to carry out inspections and maintenance tasks.

– The effective implementation (or putting into practice) of the respective maintenance actions.

If we follow these recommendations systematically, it will be possible to achieve and quantify, in the short term, the production efficiency necessary for maintenance tasks to contribute to the strategic success of any company.

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About the author

Francisco Gonzalez
Francisco Gonzalez

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