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Plant Maintenance Broken Down

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    Plant maintenance. Everyone knows what that means, right? Well, sort of. This is definitely a case of, "A rose is a rose is not a rose," by any other name, etc. I'm quoting Shakespeare here. 

    What Is Plant Maintenance?

    Ask a seasoned maintenance manager what plant maintenance means, and you're likely to get a pretty straightforward answer. Ask another maintenance manager what plant maintenance means, and you're likely to get another pretty straightforward, yet slightly different, response. You get the idea. 

    If you ask 15 (or 55) maintenance managers (MM for the sake of the math below) what plant maintenance means to them, you'll be rewarded with:

    X Number of MM x 1 Question {Q + A(15) = (X x Y = Z cubed)}

    That's some pretty heavy-duty math right there. Now solve for Z, and you start to get the idea that maybe this isn't as cut and dried as it seemed at first. Moreover, every response is as least partially correct. There is no wrong response to the definition of plant maintenance, except the "empty set." (My apologies if you just had a traumatic algebraic flashback.)

    Plant maintenance is the umbrella term for the steps to keeping equipment and machinery in good working condition. Everything of value is worth the effort required to maintain it. 

    For manufacturing facilities, the objective is to keep machines running as expected. The goal is to make sure production is uninterrupted. Nothing can interfere with producing your product. Your equipment must be fully operational, consistent, and predictable.  After your associates, machines are your most valuable assets. You want everyone and everything to operate as efficiently and safely as possible.

    As part of the maintenance team, you do everything in your power to create and sustain a safe, healthy, and productive work environment. The plant is your business, and you make it your business to ensure that the people on the plant floor are able to perform their jobs: Produce quality parts every time, all the time. 

    What's in Plant Maintenance?

    So, what is plant maintenance? How do you know you're doing it? How do you know you're doing it right? Many activities fall under the plant maintenance umbrella. Like any umbrella worth its salt, the umbrella has to be kept in good working condition and ready to go at all times. You don't wait until it's raining to see if you even have an umbrella. 

    By any other name, plant maintenance is plant maintenance. Here are perhaps the most frequently used names for different aspects of plant maintenance: 

    • Breakdown maintenance 

    • Predictive maintenance 

    • Planned maintenance 

    • Routine maintenance 

    • Preventive maintenance 

    Breakdown Maintenance

    If you're shaking your head in disbelief, or because you're confused, good for you! Your plant maintenance is not centered around fixing it when it breaks, and not fixing it until it breaks. Of course, you have to fix things when they break, but this is not the standard day in the life for you.

    If you're shaking your head because you're recalling horrible breakdowns, your organization needs to work itself out of breakdown maintenance mode. In all fairness, breakdown maintenance is sometimes the only road available for new or small companies. Even the most mature organizations experience unexpected equipment failure.

    To minimize the impact of breakdowns on production, you need pit crew-level skills and thinking. However, reactive plant maintenance isn't where you want to spend most of your time and energy. 

    Predictive Maintenance 

    Predictive maintenance utilizes equipment monitoring to determine when a machine is most likely to break down. A number of specific methods can fall under predictive maintenance, including time-based and condition-based monitoring. You can monitor equipment in real time, by both direct observation and the use of sensors.

    Even when equipment runs smoothly, plant maintenance schedules are informed by the equipment's breakdown history. The objective is to intercede prior to the equipment breaking down. 

    Planned Maintenance 

    Planned maintenance may sound similar to predictive maintenance, but there are some key differences. In fact, planned maintenance may use some of the data from predictive maintenance systems to determine when to plan the necessary work and preemptive repairs. Planned maintenance may incorporate both predictive and preventive maintenance. In this case, that rose is a rose, as planning is at the heart of this approach.

    You plan and schedule maintenance activities in advance. You coordinate with production and the needs of the folks doing the manufacturing. Think shutdown and daily maintenance. You have the umbrella cued up and standing by when you're ready to dance in the rain, rather than a bucket to bail water.

    While not all plant maintenance tasks can be scheduled in advance, planned maintenance will keep you ahead of the reactive game.

    Routine Maintenance 

    Routine maintenance encompasses tasks performed on a recurring basis. Many of these tasks are relatively minor and not particularly difficult to perform. But don't be confused by the smaller scope and lesser difficulty; this is a place where quality and quantity coexist.

    Performing upkeep tasks regularly as part of your plant maintenance routine has many benefits, and not just for the machines. Routine tasks mean more opportunities to take care of minor servicing, cleaning, and lubrication. These tasks can belong to both maintenance and plant floor folks. When you're working with a machine every day, you know when something's not right. You develop more ownership of the machine — your production partner — and get a sense of pride in taking care of it. 

    Preventive Maintenance 

    Preventive maintenance, also known as preventative maintenance, is performed with the goal of extending equipment longevity. The lifespan of machines can greatly increase on a preventive maintenance plan. With this type of maintenance, many of the tasks involved in plant maintenance can be relatively easy and are often performed by maintenance personnel and plant floor associates alike. 

    Looking to break free from reactive maintenance cycles? L2L offers you the fusion of next-gen CMMS and plant maintenance that was built by maintenance pros, for maintenance pros. Let's get started!
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