Many manufacturers manage maintenance costs rather than improve cost drivers.
Maintaining equipment is always a challenge, especially when your assets are 200 million kilometres away, as is the case with the Galileo mars probe. This equipment must be able to withstand 230 G forces and enormous temperature fluctuations. All maintenance must be done by remote control, bearing in mind that one-way communication with equipment takes 20 minutes to reach. Any component failure can cause cascading problems. Robust design is a must, tolerance of a high level of risk is a given, and autonomous operation under severe conditions must be achievable as much as possible.
Luckily, conditions on earth are not quite so demanding. Nevertheless, effective maintenance can still be a challenge. Fortunately, experts from academia, science and plant professionals from around the world who attended this fall’s 2009 International Maintenance Excellence Conference (IMEC) shared some valuable strategic insights.
Value-driven asset management. Guy Delahay says this is where you’ll find hidden values. The industrial engineer, founder of the Mainnovation consulting firm in the Netherlands and past chairman of the Dutch Maintenance Association, recommends setting a benchmark to see where you are today and what can be realistically achieved in the next few years; developing a practical set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to make it possible; and devising a mechanism to prioritize all the potential improvement actions.
To hasten success, set the right priorities and stick to them; be realistic, don’t reinvent the wheel; and go for sustainable results. He says the most valuable maintenance organization treats improvement as a yearly planning and control cycle; sets targets based on creating value; has clear and prioritized improvement actions; and enforces an annual plan of a do-check-act culture.
Hidden values revealed by this approach include extended equipment life and larger turnaround intervals.
Maintenance reliability. R.A. Platfoot, managing director of Covaris Pty. Ltd. in Bankstown Square, Australia, whose primary expertise is in maintenance engineering, high level company asset management strategy, and equipment life assessment, says maintenance needs feedback on work priorities and what is expected to go wrong in the foreseeable future. Reliability efforts must be supported by timely information and actions based on recommendations.