Productivity Pointers: Maintenance Best Practices – Part I

As many of you know, the Mobil Connect community is about more than just lubricants. In fact, we’re here to help our members deliver on higher order priorities, including getting the most out of their maintenance program overall. Part of that includes lubrication, but it also encompasses so much more.

That’s why we’re introducing a three-part tip series on maintenance best practices. We’ll cover maintenance program development, maintenance process fundamentals, and how your lubrication program fits in.

Maintenance program development

There are many causes to rotating equipment failure, including normal wear and tear, careless maintenance or improper lubrication. The best way to reduce equipment failure is through maintenance, specifically taking action to improve equipment performance and reliability.

And, the best maintenance programs focus on delivering the following:

  • Proper equipment operation
  • Maximum equipment availability
  • Consistent maintenance practices
  • Improved equipment reliability.

To develop and install an effective maintenance program, both maintenance and production personnel must work together and be on “equal” footing. This dynamic is important, as production cannot control maintenance. There must be a clear vision as to what efforts are needed to achieve maximum productivity, and goals should be established to achieve this success.

Once implemented, machinery should be monitored for performance, reliability and quality. Lastly, periodic reviews must be conducted to determine programs effectiveness. It is important to understand that a maintenance program is an evolving instrument that develops and matures with the needs of the plant.

Maintenance processes

There are several ways to perform maintenance:

  • Breakdown maintenance: This type of maintenance is typified by the following expression – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this case, maintenance occurs only when something breaks. It is the most expensive of all the maintenance practices, though it may be practiced in conjunction with other maintenance processes on non-critical machinery.
  • Preventive maintenance: This normally involves the routine scheduling of various maintenance activities on both critical and non-critical machinery. The scheduling is based on maintenance personnel experience and recommendations of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This type of program focuses on equipment servicing and inspection.
  • Predictive maintenance programs (PDM): This approach monitors equipment performance on a periodic basis for critical path machinery. It takes the data collected and utilizes the information to forecast mechanical issues that may arise, and it also lays the foundation for corrective action that may need to be taken. Most predictive maintenance programs have evolved from preventive maintenance practices. The benefits of predictive maintenance is that it minimizes the frequency of emergency repairs and usually increases equipment life of reliability.
  • Reliability centered maintenance (RCM): This approach is centered on maintenance “planning” to ensure that critical path systems continue to do what the user requires in the operating environment. Notice the focus is on “planning” and “systems.” It is defined by SAE JA1011, which sets the minimum criteria that the process should meet. Considerations include:
    • What is the equipment supposed to do and what are the performance standards?
    • In what ways can the current equipment fail to provide the required functions?
    • What are the events that cause each failure?
    • What happens when each failure occurs?
    • In what way does each failure matter?
    • What systematic task can be performed proactively to prevent, or to diminish to a satisfactory degree, the consequences of the failure?
    • What must be done if a suitable preventive task cannot be found?

RCM can be used to create a cost-effective maintenance strategy to address dominant causes of equipment and system failure and the consequences. As a result, levels of equipment criticality are assigned and tasks are developed to address the dominant failure causes. RCM encourages the user to consider changing something which will reduce the risk to a predetermined tolerable level.

I hope this tip was a helpful primer on maintenance best practices that can help you optimize productivity. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at maintenance planning and key maintenance inputs.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions via the comments section below and “Like” this article if you found it useful.