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How Your Maintenance Strategy Impacts Your Production Schedule

March 18, 2021
Whether it’s reactive, preventive, or predictive maintenance, production and maintenance teams must coordinate to ensure equipment availability and efficiency.

Equipment maintenance is a critical part of ensuring production targets are met. Differences in production needs, process configuration and production floor setup have led manufacturers to adopt a diverse range of maintenance strategies. Our focus here is on reactive, preventive, and predictive maintenance, as these are some of the most popular maintenance strategies in industrial settings.

While production schedules lay down elaborate plans for effectively allocating resources and defining process flows, there is no guarantee that equipment uptime will be retained throughout the production cycle. Production and maintenance teams must develop a team synergy to ensure availability and efficiency of equipment throughout the production cycle.

Effectiveness of maintenance and production schedules dictate both product volume and quality, which in turn affects the overall profitability of the production process.

Impact of reactive maintenance on production schedule. Reactive maintenance or breakdown maintenance is an emergency strategy that is undertaken once equipment failure has occurred. Corrective measures to restore an asset’s working conditions will always require intensive repairs or immediate replacement of damaged parts. Abrupt and unplanned breakdown of equipment results in an immediate downtime, leading to a partial or complete shutdown of production processes. Industries lose over $50 billion annually as a result of unplanned equipment downtime.

A breakdown of plant equipment causes an immediate spike in maintenance workloads within the plant. With this strategy, there is no definite restoration time. Delays in acquisition of spares and allocation of maintenance resources can further extend the overall production downtime.

Unexpected failure of equipment within a production cycle can result in damage to materials and half products that are still going through the production process. So you do not only suffer from downtime, but have to deal with the loss of some input resources. This can give a headache even to experienced production planners.

In essence, reactive maintenance is problematic because it comes with a high level of uncertainty. Since you can’t predict breakdowns, it is really hard to account for them when laying out plans to meet production targets.

Preventive maintenance and dynamic production planning. Preventive maintenance is a set of activities, such as lubrication, periodic oil changes, or visual inspections conducted on plant equipment at predetermined intervals to manage periodic deterioration that may contribute to equipment failure. Advanced identification of critical wear and tear of parts is critical to averting unexpected machine breakdowns.

Preventive maintenance is executed in close coordination with dynamic production planning, which anticipates possible disruptions that may occur during the production cycles.

Preventive maintenance ensures that all assets within a plant are operating at optimal conditions throughout the production cycle, keeping the production throughput at the recommended levels. Optimal operating conditions of individual plant assets contribute to finished-product quality. Products that meet recommended quality standards eliminate the need for rework and overtime costs that may accrue due to slowed down production processes.

As a proactive approach, preventive maintenance is carried out at fixed intervals. This gives production teams ample time to plan and compensate for anticipated downtime. As a strategy that is implemented over fixed operating times, maintenance can be planned so that it is carried out when lower production volumes are needed. Using this strategy, assets are almost always ready to handle spikes in demand.

One negative side of this approach is the possibility of doing excessive maintenance. Maintenance teams should rely on a CMMS and use it to periodically review and optimize routine maintenance schedules, to ensure this is not the case. After all, the more planned downtime a plant has, the less equipment uptime productions planners have to fill production targets.

Effect of predictive maintenance on production schedules. Predictive maintenance (PdM) is a strategy that relies on condition monitoring tools and predictive data models to identify anomalies in equipment operation and perform corrective measures, just before a failure occurs.

Insights from real-time equipment operating conditions as captured by sensors are converted into manageable maintenance schedules. PdM allows maintenance teams to execute corrective measures with minimal or no interruption to production processes, as some maintenance procedures can be performed while the assets are in full operation.

Real-time monitoring of asset conditions reduces the need for regular physical inspections that otherwise would require an asset to be shut down. For example, sensors enable maintenance teams to monitor lubrication properties of bearings on enclosed rotary parts, which otherwise would have to be verified through physical inspections.

Predictive maintenance allows plant operators and production teams to create a database of optimal production conditions, collecting and analysing data from temperature, pressure, vibrations, and alignment sensors. Slight variations in recommended operating conditions could affect the quality of the end products. Advanced identification and rectification of these periodic changes ensures that the end products conform to quality and quantity requirements. It leads to reduced need for rework, which production planners quickly learn to appreciate.

Since maintenance activities are undertaken only when needed, maintenance workloads are reduced. Implementing a PdM program reduces the number of planned production downtimes to undertake repairs and replacement, thereby improving overall availability and uptime of production equipment.

CMMS and automated production scheduling. The shift toward autonomous production systems has seen adoption of CMMS to manage maintenance within production facilities. Production teams also have developed robust production scheduling systems to ensure effective resource allocation.

Collaboration between CMMS and Automated Production Scheduling software could potentially eliminate bottlenecks that are dominant on the production floors due to instances of unplanned maintenance schedules.

Production and maintenance are mutually dependent aspects that collectively contribute to profitability of production processes. Every maintenance strategy comes with pros and cons and has a different effect on the production schedule. That being said, proactive maintenance strategies help you plan ahead with more certainty.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. – an easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline maintenance operations.

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