How to Sustain Your Lean Equipment Maintenance Program
Asset utilization, also called Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) or equipment capacity, is not just the responsibility of one department. It is the responsibility of the entire company. It has the focus of ensuring that nowhere in the world does another company have the same assets or produces greater capacity from those assets. It means being the best at getting the most out of the assets by measuring and managing availability, performance efficiency, and quality rate.
Certainly, maintenance priorities in a heavy machining plant will be different from an assembly plant or a chemical processing plant. Regardless, these practices can be applied across most production facilities:
- Borrow from successful lean production techniques and process map your maintenance workflow. Beginning the mapping effort at the very beginning of your maintenance process and the flow of the process from one step to the next.
- When your facility is organized, you can more easily see areas for improvement. Depending on your facility, industry and specific needs, the use of 5s techniques can be important tools to help you identify problems in the maintenance process.
- Schedule more frequent checks for older equipment. As equipment ages, parts and components will start to wear out sooner, and the maintenance window narrows.
- Engineer machine improvements for maintainability and operability. Windows cut into guarding to give easier viewing of gauges will make the daily checks easier to perform and more likely to be completed.
- Address operator alerts immediately. Beyond the operator and the proper performance of the checks, the maintenance organization must be ready to respond immediately to an abnormality that’s been raised as part of the operator checks.
- Continually review spare part requirements. Remove any spare parts from stock as equipment and machines are retired.
- Document and continually re-visit your operation’s maintenance history, including how critical items have addressed.
Whether you use a computer based maintenance system, or you rely on a card file, or you have a white board in the maintenance area, the strategies, opportunities and approaches remain the same. Once implemented, the entire workforce from senior management all the way down to the last mechanic hired, must adhere to the basic tenet: minimize unplanned downtime through proper preventive maintenance.