In the past, maintenance was mainly seen as a cost item on the budget: a necessary evil to prevent production backlogs. Equipment breaks down and must be repaired, costing money. In addition, maintenance was often associated with a dingy image. The work was thought of as dirty and unpleasant. A career in maintenance was not exactly exciting or sexy.
A More Positive View
New techniques and maintenance strategies have led to a different, more positive view. Good maintenance generates a high degree of availability of critical assets. If maintenance occurs at the right time, it can increase productivity and therefore profits.
Transforming data into valuable information
With good data management practices, it is now possible to perform maintenance tasks at the right time. Modern machines generate a great deal of data: temperature, pressure or pressure differences, vibration, voltage, CO2 content, speed, noise, and so on. The data itself typically only leads to small improvements. However, if this data is used in the right way, it turns into valuable information. The failure of a machine or part can be predicted with the proper analysis. This has several positive effects on the organization. First, there is more insight into the machines. Second, an organization can order spare parts on time. Third, in consultation with production, a strategic smart maintenance plan can be drawn up. Maintenance is therefore no longer seen as a cost item, but as a real 'competitive advantage'.
That said, applying condition-based maintenance as a strategy is not something accomplished overnight. As a company, you will first have to create support within the entire organization.
There are plug-and-play solutions that you can easily buy and install, but the organization will also have to learn to work with them. For example, the production and maintenance processes may have to be set up in a different way. Production, IT, and maintenance may have to work together much more than before. An implementation of condition-based maintenance is therefore often done step-by-step. Employees can take some time to get used to a new approach. Everyone will more easily understand the roadmap, and the change process will be clearer.
Go After Low Hanging Fruit First
The first important step is to identify which assets are critical and require high availability. Also, a clear analysis should be completed on the type, number of failures and their impact on production and on the company (such as financial impact). In this way, a company gets an accurate picture of the machinery, failure modes, and knows where the largest profit can be achieved.
From this initial picture, the company can determine which asset is tackled first. For this asset, the data necessary to predict failures is determined. To gain momentum, it is wise to choose an asset where success can be achieved quickly. Realizing immediate value will foster a broader acceptance in the organization.
Maintenance managers must accept data driven maintenance decisions, even if their intuition may be different. They will have to learn to trust the data. By starting small and achieving success immediately, trust will grow. The benefits of condition-based maintenance will be understood better and better. Maintenance is transformed from a cost item to a competitive advantage.