It’s no mystery that a properly maintained piece of equipment will be more reliable and will last longer than those that are run to failure. It is a mystery however why so many equipment-intensive contractors struggle to implement an effective preventative maintenance program. Is it the lack of a well-defined program? Is there complacency in the field to execute the required inspections? Is it a training issue? Does the organization lack the proper metrics to track the efficacy of the program? In this article, we will unpack many of these issues to discuss best practices and how to eliminate excuses. Your equipment fleet is likely your most important asset and it needs to be treated as such.
First and foremost, an effective preventative maintenance program needs to be well-designed. Some elements of a well-defined program are as follows:
- Proper Maintenance Intervals – Servicing equipment should take place per the manufacturer’s recommendations or as often as a fluid analysis program will reveal. Not all companies can afford to have a fluid analysis program so they must rely on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Skipping or deferring required preventative maintenance should not be allowed.
- Automation – Most mainstream enterprise resource planning (ERP) or equipment management programs allow you to build out a preventative maintenance schedule by equipment category and then update the meter reading or odometers to each specific piece of equipment. These maintenance schedules can then be initialized and the system will generate work orders for each piece of equipment that requires preventative maintenance. The automation simplifies the process so the shop and mechanics teams can focus on the exceptions and emergency repairs instead of trying to manually track the preventative maintenance needs.
- Work Orders – The work orders produced by the system should be used. Any purchases made for the machine should be tracked to the work order, and it should be tied to the machine so an accurate profit and loss statement can be produced. The mechanic’s time should also be tied to the work order.
- Accountability/Responsibility – The roles and responsibilities in the preventative maintenance program should be clearly defined. For example, the shop foreman initiates the work orders and assigns mechanics. Mechanics perform the repair and record time and parts to the machine. Field operators are required to do daily inspections to ensure proper operation, lack of leaks, and perform basic greasing and cleaning.