Plant & Works Engineering
How to implement a successful intelligent maintenance programme
Published:  10 October, 2022

Stephen Davis, Marketing Director, PEMAC looks at 10 steps for implementing a successful intelligent maintenance programme

Studies show that over 70% of maintenance work is conducted on a reactive basis, and unplanned maintenance is on average 3 to 5 times more expensive than planned maintenance.

Reasons for this include poor machinery condition, lack of spare parts and resources, excessive demand on maintenance operations, lack of discipline and knowledge, and poor planning.

Very often the root cause is culture. A habit has formed over time and is supported by reasons that seem very valid. “This is how we have always done things and we have been successful, why would we change it?”

As a result of this kind of cultural inertia, introducing a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) can be challenging for many organisations. PEMAC, a market-leading CMMS software provider, recommends the following 10-step process for implementing a successful intelligent maintenance programme:

Step 1 – Gather and assess your data

If you truly want to implement maintenance intelligence, then creating measures of the current approach help highlight what’s wrong with not following good practice. This will also help you identify the scale of the challenge you face.

These measures help to highlight recurring problems and help you to begin to put financial measures around the current approach. You will now be able to effectively calculate downtime costs, e.g., average cost of one hour of downtime for each specific machine. This data will feed into your maintenance intelligence approach and provide the foundation that your maintenance program will be built on.

Step 2 – Determine the bottom-line value of maintenance to your organisation

Now that you have your per hour of downtime cost estimate available, you can use this to determine how much money you can save by improving your maintenance process. Calculate the value increased availability of an asset will add to your organisation by looking at machine availability and the per hour cost of downtime previously analysed.

You will see how a seemingly small increase of 3 – 5% will have a huge impact on your bottom line. Now you can set your sights on a much higher improvement. This allows you to justify an increase in spend on preventative maintenance but also justifying why a machine needs to be taken out of production to save money

Step 3 – Don’t stop there – analyse your other variables

An unplanned Maintenance job is three to five times more expensive than a planned job. Using your data to prove this helps to justify a number of key changes. Look at the factors that affect asset availability. What’s the underlying root cause – man, machine, method, material? Use the data to deploy the correct fix and assess the processes that affect asset availability. How do you manage and control work orders? Could your technician response time be improved with a mobile system meaning less time spent in the office filling out reports? Can you devise a formulated plan to ensure critical spares are always on hand?

Examining the causes of downtime and then fixing the underlying cause and not the symptom allows you to eradicate an issue removing the costs permanently from the business. This will highlight further areas for improvement that can be focused on further down the maintenance intelligence path.

Step 4 – Invest in the right software solution

The right CMMS package can be tailored to fit your organisation’s needs and automate maintenance, track, and manage all work, perform Root Cause Analysis, record costs while keeping a record of work performed.

A CMMS can order and manage spare parts, plan work orders, show resource usage and track costs. Great CMMS systems automatically generate those key measures that you need to drive the business change you want like those mentioned earlier, MTBF, MTTR etc. And the measures make you question your approach and provide intelligence for decisions.

Improved response times, more work orders closed out effectively, better management of personnel, lower mean time to repair and reduced downtime. All data will be recorded and analysed to make this process easier 

Step 5 – Preventative maintenance

Now that your CMMS is fully operational and your unplanned work is being recorded, the full benefits of a CMMS begin to accrue. Preventative maintenance is planned and performed on assets while they are still in working order, this soon becomes predictive maintenance because your CMMS should be calculating the next projected failure.

Increased lifespan for your asset, higher levels of performance, reduced levels of downtime, a decrease in the number of major repairs and overall, a better performing maintenance operation which will have a positive effect on the bottom line of your business.

Step 6 – You have a scheduler, now use it

Now that you are becoming more proactive about your maintenance you need to filter this through the entire program. Specifically, you need to look at your maintenance technicians and the availability of spare parts. The scheduler function will help you plan maintenance, allocate a technician and order or reserve parts to ensure your strategy runs smoothly. The predictive element of the system will show you whether the original interval you set for maintenance is correct for that asset versus its current Mean Time Between Failure.

The feedback loop between Unplanned and Planned work makes you more effective and hence more efficient allowing you to save your resources for where they are needed.

Step 7 – Introduce condition-based maintenance

Preventative maintenance is a very effective strategy, however, to be truly maintenance intelligent you need to combine this with predictive strategies. Condition based monitoring is one natural step, provided the data supports it. The type of monitoring you can do depends on your critical assets, would overheating, cracks or fissures, increase in noise or higher than normal vibrations indicate something is about to go wrong? All of these can be measured, and the data analysed by your CMMS to ensure you don’t have an expensive breakdown at a critical time.

Further improvements in the availability of your assets, extra insurance on top of your preventative strategy for your most valuable machinery, and the cost easily justified but the system.

Step 8 – Total Productive maintenance

This is a philosophy that takes time to implement and needs top-down support throughout the organisation. Employees need to be educated about all activities, the benefits and the importance of their contribution. A commitment to continuous improvements needs to be made and with that, the people who know your assets the best, from technicians to operators, all striving for excellence. Training for operators and technicians is recommended here. A support structure or TPM implementation team is advisable with representatives from all departments to ensure communication lines are open and the goals are clear. Asset ownership helps to create a sense of pride in machine performance and so creating a responsive feedback loop from production to maintenance helps develop this behaviour.

Each piece of equipment will be optimised to ensure all possible improvements are made. Maintenance and operations staff will be motivated as they can see the benefit of their work and of course, all departments will be aware of the improvements they make. The greatest benefit derived will be a mindset that our work here is not done. Instead of making changes and leaving it for years, you will see continuous improvements being made as you strive to have zero breakdowns and zero defects. Once achieved, you are much closer to reaching maintenance intelligence.

Step 9 - Reliability centred maintenance

This corporate level strategy will further analyse the equipment that is vital to the success of your organisation. Firstly, you need to define the equipment and functions that are critical and need to be analysed. Secondly, you need to identify failures, calculate the effects of each failure, and identify the cause of failure. The third and final step is you need to act on what you have learned and finalise the maintenance tasks needed by the critical machinery.

You have already completed the groundwork with the previous eight steps, and this is a means of bringing it all together at a corporate level to implement a maintenance strategy on each specific piece of equipment that is important to the overall success of your business. Value can be maximised by looking at maintenance vs productivity through a cost / benefit lens.

Step 10 – Bring in third-party or unbiased experts Third party resources are particularly effective in establishing metrics and defining processes, rating the efficiency of your maintenance strategy, and giving you information that you may not otherwise hear from your employees or internal resources. You can add skills to your organisation that you don’t currently have access to and take full advantage of them.

Look to CMMS vendors in your industry who can demonstrate value to the organisations they have worked in. Would a decrease in maintenance costs of 64% within two years help you justify a change? Would a decrease in your spare parts investment by 40% pique the interest levels of your Finance department?

By having a third party review your strategy you will gain new insights on further areas to improve. Have someone new set metrics for your team and push them further towards the goal of implementing a maintenance intelligence program.

Learning from other peoples’ experience is one way to begin the change process.