Preventative-Maintenance Program Requires Commitment to Protect Your Investment (Part 1 of 4)

I want to set up a preventive-maintenance program in my laundry. What kind of resources will I need in place to keep my equipment operating well? How much time should I allow for routine maintenance? Can I get any help from manufacturers or distributors? CORRECTIONAL LAUNDERING: Nancy Greene has been laundry manager for the Kenosha County, Wis., Detention Center and Sheriff's Department for eight years. Other experience includes laundry/environmental services work with ServiceMaster, as well as in private hospitals and nursing homes.
Preventive maintenance (PM) is critical to a well-running laundry. The first resource I turned to came with the equipment.
Our distributor handled the routine maintenance during the warranty period, and our facilities staff took over after that.
They weren’t familiar with handling industrial washers and dryers, so I used the manuals to put together a list of the maintenance that needed to be done.
When it became apparent that they needed additional training, we were able to turn to our distributor for a short training course.
If you’re stymied with a union contract that doesn’t allow you to work on the equipment yourself, the distributor can be valuable for training purposes.
Setting up a calendar indicating when preventive maintenance needs to be completed begins the process. This calendar will keep you on track. Don’t let yourself get behind schedule, saying you’ll catch up next week. Sometimes, next week never comes.
Establishing a log sheet for each piece of equipment that shows when PM is performed and when repairs are made will allow you to keep close watch over what your equipment has been through.
These logs can either be maintained at the piece of equipment – never my first choice – or at your office. If it’s maintained at the piece of equipment, you run the risk of information disappearing.
If you produce written maintenance requests with multiple copies, having the facilities staff sign off on the third copy when the task has been completed comes in handy. This aids you in monitoring completion.
If you’re trying to set up a time frame for completion, track the time needed for each job function. If you’re looking at “fast” PM, you might find that your PM isn’t thorough enough.
I’ve had PM that took all of 20 minutes, but then had to call in the distributor repairman because a door lock wasn’t greased properly and froze in place. This caused downtime on our most important washer.
Now, our facilities staff uses the correct grease for this washer. So, was it worth our PM personnel being in a hurry to complete the work?
Will it be worth it if you don’t schedule enough time for them to do the job correctly?
Sometimes saving a few minutes can cost you dollars and time you can’t afford.HEALTHCARE LAUNDERING: Earl Carter is the director of central laundry for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, serving five hospitals, four outpatient surgery centers, two health and fitness centers, and 12 family care centers. His career began in 1972 as a route operator for National Linen Service.
The most important thing to understand when you’re putting together or developing a preventive-maintenance (PM) program is that you’re also estimating time standards, the resources needed to perform these tasks and the cost to perform them.
Try to hold the maintenance staff to these early standards without history of actual performance and you’ll only create an environment that will ensure your PM program will fail.
I once asked an elderly lady how she kept her large old farmhouse so clean. Expecting a simple thanks for the compliment, I was surprised when she began to explain her method. “First, you take a broom and sweep the kitchen,” she said, as she started describing the steps to keep her house clean. As I listened, her simple but effective view of housekeeping made me think about a common obstacle of PM.
Many managers I meet say there’s no time to perform preventive maintenance because a large part of their work force is dedicated to emergency repairs. Paradoxically, these managers usually realize that if they had an effective PM program, they wouldn’t have the emergencies.
Starting a PM program doesn’t have to be a “chicken or the egg” philosophical dilemma. Companies can, slowly but surely, reap the gains of a PM program by focusing their efforts on the work rather than on the idea of a program.
One of the most valuable tools in developing a PM program is a copy of the original equipment manual on which you’re basing your program. If the originals aren’t available, contact the equipment manufacturer or distributor. I’ve found most manuals to be available through them and some are even available online.
Old approaches to implementing a PM program have a spotty track record. It was often said that a PM program must be designed and sold from the top down, before it could be formally implemented. Some people impose the requirement of a rigorous cost vs. benefit analysis on the total program before it can be approved. The demand for justification is often dictated in the face of clear, first-hand evidence that one dollar spent on a routine PM procedure could easily have saved two to three dollars lost on the last emergency repair.
So, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course. In the case of creating a PM program, you do it one step at a time.
I’m listing some steps here that won’t guarantee your facility to be free of equipment downtime, but hopefully it will help you develop a PM program that’ll work for you:
1. Obtain maintenance manuals and wiring diagrams for all machinery and equipment in your plant.
2. Set up maintenance data on a card for each machine, or purchase a computer-aided program.
3. Assign and place identifying numbers on all plant machines.
4. Develop frequency schedules for machine lubrication.
5. Complete a “lubrication instruction card” and hang on each machine.
6. Develop a frequency schedule for machine inspections.
7. Develop a PM check sheet for all equipment.
8. Inventory and record all spare parts.
9. Develop frequency and schedule of cleaning equipment.
10. Maintain the program.


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