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Plant Maintenance Broken Down

Plant maintenance. Everyone knows what that means, right? Well, pretty much, 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 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 will be rewarded with:

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

Whoa! 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. What’s more, every response is as least partially correct. There is no wrong response to Plant Maintenance, except the ‘Empty Set.’ My apologies if you just had a traumatic algebraic flashback. My further apologies for using the word algebraic.

And they said you’d never use algebra after high school! Non-Mathemagicians, have no fear. The solution is clear! (Rhyme and pun intended)

Plant Maintenance is the umbrella term for all those steps taken to keep equipment and machinery in good working condition. Everything that is of value, that is worth having, is worth the effort required to maintain it.

For manufacturing facilities, the objective is to ensure that machines keep running, and that they keep running right, as expected. The goal is to make sure production is uninterrupted. Nothing can interfere with producing product. Your equipment has to be fully operational. Your equipment has to produce consistently and predictably. After your associates, machines are your most valuable assets. You want everyone and everything to be able 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, 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 and actions fall under the Plant Maintenance umbrella. Like any umbrella worth its salt, the umbrella has to be kept in good working condition at all times. Ready to go any time and every time. 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 right now, we feel ya. 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 and trembling recalling horrible breakdowns, so many breakdowns, your organization needs to work itself out of Breakdown Maintenance mode. In all fairness, Breakdown Maintenance is sometimes the only road available in new and small companies just starting out. Not all Breakdown Maintenance is the devil incarnate, but all of it is sure as heck reactionary. It can get real hot real quick. Not where you want to spend most of your time and energy.

Having said that… even though it’s not where you want to spend most of your time, it’s likely the area where you need to be the most effective and most prepared.  Even in the most mature maintenance organizations, equipment will fail unexpectedly.  This is where you need “pit crew” level skills and thinking to minimize the impact of the breakdown to production.

Breakdowns can also be an important time of learning that will feed your proactive activities (planned, predictive, and routine)

Predictive Maintenance 

The Predictive Maintenance approach utilizes monitoring equipment to determine the whens and whats. Equipment is operational and machines are running. A number of specific methods can fall under Predictive Maintenance including time based and condition based. The monitoring can be done both in real time by observation and by the use of sensors.

Even when equipment is running smoothly, maintenance is performed based on when history has shown it needs to happen. 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 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.

Definitely not your breakdown variety rose, I mean maintenance. While not all maintenance tasks can be anticipated in advance, Planned Maintenance is way ahead of playing the reactive game. As the saying I just made up goes, “Dancing in the rain beats musical chairs every time.”

Routine Maintenance 

Routine Maintenance encompasses those tasks that are performed on a regular, recurring basis. Many of the tasks can be thought of as relatively minor and not particularly difficult to perform. Don’t confuse the smaller scope and lesser difficulty and think that they are unimportant or trivial. This is a place where quality and quantity coexist.

Performing upkeep tasks regularly as part of your Plant Maintenance Routine (see what I did there?) has oodles of benefits, and not just for your mechanical friends, the machines. Routine tasks mean more opportunities to take care of minor servicing, cleaning, 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 your production partner and get a sense of personal pride taking care of it.

Preventive Maintenance 

Preventive Maintenance, also referred to as Preventative Maintenance, is performed with the goal of extending equipment longevity. The lifespan of machines can be greatly increased by practicing Preventive Maintenance. Some of these tasks can also be relatively minor or easy as well and are often performed by both maintenance personnel and plant floor associates alike.

L2L will provide you the fusion of next gen CMMS and Plant Maintenance that was built by maintenance pros, for maintenance pros! Let’s start!