Follow These Five Steps, and Get back to Doing Great Maintenance

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We’ve all eaten at those restaurants. 

The ones that have been around forever, have a trophy cabinet full of culinary awards and are known for their signature dishes. 

But sometimes, even the greatest restaurants lose their way. Maybe they expand too quickly, new owners come in and start messing with the menu, or they lose their most talented chefs. Then, over time, standards slip and quality dips. The food doesn’t have quite the same flair and the service isn’t nearly as snappy as it once was. 

You can almost picture the restaurant manager wondering, “How do I even get started turning this place around?” 

A similar phenomenon takes place in plants across the globe – especially when we think about maintenance procedures and processes. 

Sure, a few equipment breakdowns here and there might not make too much of an impact in your day-to-day…but in the long run, they add up. Then, you start to see chronic issues, like lost productivity and significant unplanned downtime. This leads to increased pressure from leadership, poor staff morale and a chaotic, reactive work environment. 

Hanging on by a thread and just meeting compliance standards isn’t the place for you to be long-term. That’s why there’s no shame in hitting the reset button, getting back to basics and rediscovering what made your maintenance team work well in the first place. 

Besides – if you want to take advantage of the advancements that digital tools and monitoring offers (and will offer), you need to first build a solid foundation that enables you to succeed.

  1. Do the grunt work first. There are no shortcuts here, as this is where you build – or rebuild – your solid maintenance foundation. Start by getting out on the floor and collecting accurate information and data so you properly measure (and manage) asset performance. This involves taking photos of serial numbers, recording makes and model numbers and age of machines, then going back and verifying all the information in your systems to ensure it’s correct. While it’s not the most exciting work, it is your foundation for everything that comes next.
  2. Streamline and simplify your processes and procedures. Sometimes processes get far too bloated and over-complicated for their own good. This can lead to over-maintenance, high operating costs and dozens of wasted hours spent fixing what’s not broken. The lesson here? It’s not always about working harder…but working smarter. And it isn’t always about doing MORE things – but doing fewer things extremely well. After all, your team isn’t going to memorize 100 failure modes. But 10? That’s far more realistic. Take a good, hard look at your current practices. If there’s a maintenance process that doesn’t make sense or add value, get rid of it now. Once you’ve re-visited and re-tooled your processes, ensure that you also have clearly defined maintenance goals in place. This will help get you employees feeling motivated because they understand what’s important and where they need to focus.
  3. Upskill your workers. Remember: When there’s high turnover, skill and experience are often walking out the door. Without strong, fundamental knowledge, your maintenance team is never going to take the next step and become true experts at their craft. So, when implementing your refreshed reliability and maintenance program, it’s prime time to upskill and reskill your team. This is where you can carve out new roles (as needed) and make sure everyone understands what’s being asked of them – and are held accountable for their work. As you start upskilling and reskilling, you may also start to notice a big, positive shift where team members go from reactionary “fire fighters” to proactive problem solvers. What’s more – you’re building a culture of collaboration, where everyone feels comfortable to speak their mind and provide ideas on how to improve.
  4. Get everyone on board and committed to the road ahead. Change is always going to be constant as people come and go and leadership moves on. That’s why your newly refreshed maintenance program and equipment reliability processes need to be baked into the DNA of your plant.  It’s also important to align maintenance and reliability with business objectives. This helps ensure your work doesn’t get compromised if your organization comes under pressure to cut costs. Here’s the most important thing: For any new initiative to stick and be successful, everyone needs to be aligned, accountable and committed right from the start – from your executives to the maintainers themselves. And you need to maintain that same energy over the long haul.
  5. Get set to seize smart manufacturing opportunities. With a strong maintenance foundation in place, and procedures for collecting quality, reliable data, you will be in a better position to reap the benefits of digital manufacturing technology – and set the stage for more consistent productivity and profitability.

Five steps to reinventing and refreshing your maintenance practices: Sounds straightforward, right? But we know that it’s not always easy to put everything into practice. That’s where LCE can help. 

Get in touch with our experts and we can help you and your maintenance team map out a path forward!