How an efficient maintenance strategy benefits your bottom line?

A Guide to effective maintenance
January 12, 2024 by
Pedro Jr.

Just like in efficient manufacturing, efficiency principles are the foundation of success in modern maintenance. In a resource-intensive environment, any improvement in efficiency and productivity is crucial. Efficient maintenance has become more prominent as manufacturers face sustainability challenges, economic instability, and global competition.

What is efficient maintenance, and how does it benefit your bottom line?

Efficient maintenance involves the reduction and elimination of waste at every stage of your maintenance program to move faster while spending less. Efficient maintenance equals performance. But how are efficiency principles achieved in your maintenance program?

This blog highlights the basics of building and measuring an efficient maintenance program, including:

  1. Types of waste in maintenance
  2. A formula for creating an efficient maintenance strategy
  3. Business benefits of an automated maintenance program

The three types of waste in maintenance

1. Environmental Waste: Environmental waste occurs when raw materials are used or discarded inefficiently due to inefficient maintenance activities. Examples include an increase in waste or rework after equipment maintenance; excessive fuel usage by poorly maintained vehicles or unnecessary transportation to and from a job site; and excess parts inventory due to an outdated inventory purchasing program. The impact of this waste is multiple and includes harmful and unsustainable byproducts such as increased pollution and waste, higher carbon emissions, low-quality products, and increased safety hazards.

Some strategies to reduce environmental waste in maintenance are:

• Frequent inventory cycle counts and fewer inventory purchases to confirm that your warehouse is not overloaded.

• Grouping scheduled maintenance within a time period to reduce travel.

• Mandatory verification by a second technician after repairs or replacements before production to reduce rework or waste.

2. Financial Waste: Financial waste refers to additional costs derived from inefficient maintenance. It also includes production loss due to unnecessary downtimes. Examples include high labor and parts costs for preventive maintenance tasks performed too frequently; defective products from an asset that was assembled or rebuilt incorrectly; and delayed maintenance because technicians had to wait for a part to complete repairs. The impact of financial waste is experienced across the company as higher labor and parts costs, increased capital expenditures, lost revenue, and missed opportunities for business growth.

Some strategies to reduce financial waste are:

• Identifying tasks in your preventive maintenance schedule that can be eliminated or performed less frequently.

• Reducing downtime by finding maintenance jobs that can be done while an asset is in operation.

• Building a reporting, analysis, and corrective action system for addressing and preventing failures in critical equipment.

• Creating parts kits for critical equipment to speed up repairs and avoid stockouts, and holding regular meetings with production staff to align maintenance with operations.

3. Human capital waste: Human capital waste includes administrative work and unnecessary tasks that distract staff from specialized tasks that only they can perform. When human capital is wasted, fatigue, low morale, and turnover increase, leading to more waste and loss of organizational knowledge.

Examples include spending hours writing, reviewing, and sorting work orders every day; repairing the same component multiple times; inspecting non-critical equipment with low or non-existent failure rates; supporting production instead of specialized maintenance tasks; and searching for parts and supplies in the warehouse. High employee turnover and loss of organizational knowledge are two impacts of human capital waste. The impact also manifests as increased delays, decreased employee engagement, and less accurate data.

Strategies to become more efficient include

• Frequent maintenance team meetings to discuss challenges and propose solutions.

• Automating frequently performed activities, such as creating work orders or reports.

• Eliminating or reducing scheduled maintenance for equipment with a low follow-up rate.

• Training machine operators to perform routine maintenance tasks.

Building an Effective Maintenance Strategy To counteract waste, follow a three-step formula:

  1. Understand what you are currently doing and the process you are using;
  2. Identify areas of waste and eliminate them; and
  3. Follow a long-term vision that allows you to continuously repeat steps one and two.

Step 1: Map Your Maintenance Process This step is about understanding how your team currently operates so you can identify work that is being done excessively or insufficiently. This stage involves documenting your maintenance processes, including:

• Key information about equipment, such as criticality and failure modes.

• Inspections and repairs performed, and how often.

• Purchase of parts and warehouse management.

• How an emergency looks and how your team reacts.

• How preventive or corrective maintenance is created, assigned, and tracked.

• Setting goals, creating metrics, reporting, and data collection.

• Health, safety, and compliance activities.

Next, review business needs, such as:

• Production levels by season.

• High and low sales periods.

• Reactive needs based on past emergencies.

• Organizational goals and resources.

Step 2: Identify improvement opportunities you can address now The next step is to discover where you are spending too much time, money, or energy. Here are some ways to uncover waste in your processes:

• Review specific processes with members of your maintenance team. Ask them which part of the process takes the most time or where they face challenges in completing the work. Use this insight to streamline activities and remove obstacles.

• Identify tasks that consistently take more time or money than planned and perform a "root cause analysis" to determine why.

• Audit your planned maintenance work to make it more efficient. Question the need for all regular maintenance and the frequency, timing, and resources for each task.

• Develop KPIs and metrics around the growth and success of your team. This data will allow you to find untapped potential.

Step 3: Build a long-term vision Creating an efficient maintenance program begins with an efficient mindset. You must ask the right questions, question the way you do things, and be willing to change. Start by building maintenance activities around business and production goals and decrease or minimize work that does not relate to these goals. Next, start using a proactive approach instead of a reactive one. An efficient maintenance strategy is based on data and takes the time to collect it. Five extra minutes completing additional fields on a work order add up. Allocate time in your schedule for reporting critical data. And inform your maintenance team about the importance of these additional steps.

Here are some best practice metrics to start addressing each type of waste in maintenance

Environmental Waste:

• Downtime.

• Maintenance costs (by asset, type, task, etc.).

• Wrench time. Financial Waste:

• Use of raw materials.

• Equipment downtime (planned and unplanned).

• Employee turnover. Human Capital Waste:

• Carbon emissions / energy use.

• Corrective maintenance rate after inspections.

• Time spent supporting production.

Moving from reactive to proactive maintenance

Changing your maintenance strategy from reactive to proactive is a process that begins with small changes over time. But these small changes lead to significant benefits such as lower direct costs (labor and resources) and indirect costs (lost revenue due to downtime or production loss). Learn to mark progress with small goals and milestones, track progress, and celebrate success.

If done correctly, it's a process that is never truly finished. Adopt a "win or learn" mindset instead of a "win or fail" mindset. Allow your team to question the status quo without blame or punishment. You and your maintenance team will see success as a series of continuous small changes that affect your bottom line and overall performance.

For example, in efficient maintenance, a best practice is to review work orders once a month to reduce delays and increase wrench time by 10% to 15% annually. It is crucial to track progress and celebrate it with your team. And encourage input from staff on best practices. Technicians will feel a sense of ownership over this metric and will be engaged in making progress.

Consider a modern CMMS for your maintenance needs Modern computerized maintenance management software, such as Fiix® by Rockwell Automation, is a best practice strategy for achieving efficient maintenance. Implementing a comprehensive solution helps you execute efficient maintenance strategies to increase efficiency. Eliminating unnecessary administrative jobs and tasks helps employees feel more engaged in their work. It also gives them time to train and perform high-value jobs.

At its core, efficient maintenance is about linking maintenance practices to business needs. It is a critical step to move from a maintenance cost center to a value driver. And when achieved, the maintenance team becomes a true business partner.

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