The most expensive machines are the ones that do not work. If your company invested in a new equipment, and now this equipment stands still for the last two months because you are waiting for a spare part that should have been ordered ages ago, financial consequences can be catastrophic.
Poorly maintained equipment uses full amount of resources, but produces only fraction of expected capacity. Research shows that unmaintained air-conditioning unit after one year cools with only 60% of capacity, but still uses the same amount of energy as those that work with full capacity. 40% of money spent on energy is literally being thrown in the wind.
Reactive vs. Preventive maintenance
Reactive maintenance – also know as “fix it when it’s broken” approach, is not an optimal solution. Shipping companies direct their ships to those ports that offer most efficient offloading. If a ship is stranded in port for days as a result of broken crane, the owner will redirect his entire fleet to near-by ports. Yet, reactive maintenance is still today the predominant business process in many companies.
In preventive maintenance, parts are replaced in optimal periods recommended by manufacturer. This ensures that machines function optimally and in full capacity. Although this approach ensures maximum reliability, it is often to expensive and impractical for implementation. Unnecessary replacing hundreds of control lights that still work perfectly well, will soon lead to escalation of costs.
To maximize potential of their assets, companies need to find optimal level of maintenance. Usually, this is the mix of preventive and reactive maintenance, based on financial risk in case of machine outage.
Reliability Centered Maintenance – RCM is the process which ensures that company assets function at optimal level, with minimal maintenance costs. The basis of this approach is the evaluation of consequences of breakdown of each machine component, and devising processes that ensure that most damaging events never happen.
In some industry sectors, such as nuclear power plants or air transport, consequences of component failure can be catastrophic. Their maintenance process is thus significantly more expensive, and mostly based on preventive maintenance. Most industries though, chose to maintain critical machines in preventive mode, while other machines, which can be replaced quickly are repaired when breakdown occurs.
Big Enterprise Asset Management Systems – EAM), like Mainpac or IBM Maximo mostly support RCM process, and can plan preventive maintenance as well as failure repairs.
Complex tasks and business automation
EAM system is a very complex one. Properly configured and implemented it takes care of:
- periodic checks and replacements of critical machine parts,
- spare parts stock – make sure that there are enough spare parts for most frequent fixes, and that parts needed for big overhauls are ordered on time,
- issuing work orders – timely and to qualified and available workers and crews,
- redirecting production and planning from equipment that is undergoing maintenance, and planning scheduled maintenance so that it does not interupt the critical production tasks,
- generating periodical reports for management that give simple and informative insight into state of assets.
Advanced EAM functions include:
- automatic tracking of measurements from machines that support it
- tracking of historical data about machines, which includes references to workers that worked on the machines in time of malfunctions
From all of this it is clear that EAM system needs to be connected to other IT systems in a company. Payment orders for spare parts ordered from EAM must appear in financial system to be payed, HR application must know how many hours have specific worker worked, and EMA must be aware which workers are available for the jobe – i.e. are not on leave or otherwise engaged.
In ports, it is imperative that port operations know if a crane is scheduled for maintenance before a ship gets docked by it. Similarly, in case of breakdown of an equipment, EAM must inform Port Operations software that the part of port in unavailable, so that it can plan future ship dockings.
Another challenge for EAM system is the diversity of it’s users: Information must be equally understandable to shop workers that perform actual maintenance and managers whose responsibility is to assess general state of production.