Customers are demanding higher quality and more innovative products at shorter delivery times. To stay relevant in the global marketplace, those wanting a competitive advantage today are switching to new and emerging technologies. Today’s plant floors are increasingly high-tech, from automated sensors performing condition monitoring to the Internet of Things (IoT) programs that many are adopting — all at a high cost.
A comprehensive asset or maintenance management strategy is crucial for manufacturers to protect the investment in these machines. It is not enough to simply upgrade machines without maintenance plans to support them. In order to fully protect the investment of your machines, a plan for continuous improvement needs to be made that benefits both your assets and the people who maintain them.
Protecting Your Investment
While having a plan for preventive maintenance (PM) is still a central part of asset management, it’s just the first step toward a truly modern manufacturing plan. Continuous improvement is one of the most important programs towards maximizing OEE, protecting your assets and helping your technicians tackle tough problems. While it sounds like a big challenge, it’s actually easier to tackle than it appears. In five steps, you can create a plan for optimization — or, “APPEM” for short:
The first step is to assess what you currently have. This includes everything from machines to their individual parts, as well as your current method of data collection, monitoring and work order management. When you’re in your Assessment stage, you want to make sure that the insights you gain lead to actionable goals. What items are urgent, i.e. things that are broken or must be replaced? What are aspects are most important to your long-term goals, such as minimal downtime or better work allocation? How many manpower hours do I have? These are the things that will inform you throughout the five stages.
Once you assess what you have, you can begin to see opportunities for improvement. Knowing where you can improve is a major step toward ensuring that you’re supporting your valuable investments on the plant floor. Once you have a clear idea of what you currently own, you should be able to have a clear idea of what your priorities are.
This stage helps you discover the tasks that you can do every day to support machine OEE and ensure that you’re meeting your clients’ needs. In the Assess step, you’ve probably already identified the most urgent items. Because entire organizations rely on machine uptime, those assets that are broken or in need of maintenance will obviously take first priority. At the same time, however, you can still determine the priority of long-term projects or organizational goals.
At the same time, anything that may impede the completion of these objectives can be identified. Reactive maintenance, manual entry, repetitive repairs — all of the tasks that could either be prevented through proactive maintenance or automated are opportunities to introduce advanced workflows. Whatever you choose, this stage should provide you with clear, actionable goals that you can make plans for, which is why prioritization and planning go hand in hand.
Once you have your priorities set, it’s time to make a plan for execution. Through proper Assessment (Step 1) and Prioritizing (Step 2), you’ve been able to identify the tasks that take up your day and order them by level of importance. At this stage, you can make a plan to both focus on those high priority projects while minimizing the tasks that can be either automated or prevented.
If you currently have a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), then you should start developing a PM schedule. If you already have a CMMS and a PM schedule, consider looking at automated sensors for predictive maintenance (PdM) and notifications for employees after-hours in case of a failure. And, you may want to consider labor timers for your team. Remember, your most valuable resource is manpower, and any strategies you adopt should help you optimize it to focus on your most valuable assets.
At this stage, you’ve prioritized and your plans are set. All that’s left to do is execute. During this step in the process, you may experience growing pains. Some of them may be constructive and bring to light further weaknesses that you can correct, while others may be a teaching moment for you to share a new process with the organization that, in the end, will further streamline workflows. At this stage, collecting data is also crucial. By tracking your progress, you can see how effective your plans are at accomplishing the priorities you’ve developed and identify any issues or areas for improvement.
5. Maintain and Modify
Once you’ve executed on your highest priorities, continuous improvement is the last step — but it’s not really a final step at all. The key to continued success is to always reassess your progress as a cycle, using data that you’ve collected to measure your accomplishments. As you maintain, you’ll begin the cycle again, continuously improving upon your success and raising the bar.
The APPEM framework is not meant to restrict or contain your team’s needs but, rather, provide a framework from which you can build off of. Any new plans that you make should support maintaining the lifeblood of your organization: Your machines. On top of that, any new initiative needs to make your lives easier, not more difficult for your technicians. At the end of the day, it’s your assets and the people who work on them that will make the biggest difference for your production schedule.
Alexandra Altvater is the Manufacturing Industries Manager for Dude Solutions.