Preventative-Maintenance Program Requires Commitment to Protect Your Investment (Part 2 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? COMMERCIAL LAUNDERING: Richard Warren is the general manager of Institutional Services Corp., Conway, Ark., a commercial laundry that provides COG, rental and linen distribution services for healthcare clients. His experience also includes OPL and industrial laundering, linen supply, and leather/fur cleaning.
Preventive-maintenance programs exist to try to manage the risk of encountering breakdowns during operation. I once had a machine that was only a few weeks old when a 1-inch steel shaft broke. Snapped like a corn stalk. I doubt any PM program would have prevented that. So, we try to minimize the negative impact on production by catching things that need attention before they break down.
Every consultant worth his yellow pad has PM software. Additionally, there are programs available on the market, kind of a one-size-fits-all sort of a thing. All manufacturers will help you, even if it’s just telling you on which page of the manual you’ll find the maintenance schedule. I’ve found distributors to be the best source of information and assistance.
It’s important to understand that PM doesn’t make problems disappear, but it changes the nature of the problems. Your maintenance staff isn’t working any less, just working smarter. Instead of patching stuff so it’ll work for a while, it’s doing its work at scheduled times so it won’t interrupt production. Preventive maintenance is as much communication and coordination as it is mechanical.
Consider this scenario. You hear a squeak, then a squeal, which starts to rumble, then smoke becomes visible, and then your dryer shuts down. You immediately think a bearing has gone dry, so you get the PM records only to find the greasing has been done as scheduled.
When your engineer gets up on top of the dryer, he finds the grease line has broken and grease is everywhere – except in the bearing! So, the program didn’t prevent that from happening. While the engineer is on the dryer fixing the bearing, shaft and possible motor damage caused by the disconnected grease line (that PM didn’t catch), he may as well check the other motors since they’re difficult to access.
Let’s assume he finds one that’s extremely hot. He tells the manager and suggests a motor rewind. That could well cost $600. But the manager doesn’t want to lose several days of production from the dryer, and he doesn’t have a spare motor. The engineer finds a replacement motor for $1,400. Now it looks like the manager will have to authorize $2,000 to fix something that is still running?You must have parts if you’re going to repair anything. You can spend that money in addition to the loss of production, or you can spend it as part of the PM program, and retain your production.
It’s not good enough to squirt some grease into a tube if the other end of the tube isn’t hooked up properly. That’s not uncommon, and I doubt that any “program” is going to tell you to check the other end of those grease tubes. But they must be checked.
Here’s my view on PM programs: If you’re not going to fund the program, you may as well save your breath.
A couple of keystrokes on the computer can tell you to change oil in the compressor, or grease all the washers, but if your people find damage to belts, or metal shavings where there have never been any before, and management routinely wants to “wait till next quarter,” then management will soon be getting zero information.
And you don’t need a preventative-maintenance program for that.HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club since the property opened in 1995. His other experience includes managing laundries at the Ihilani Resort & Spa on Oahu, the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the Westin Kauai Resort.
Here are some things, in no certain order, that you’ll need in place to begin a successful preventive-maintenance program:Budget – Budget money for tools, labor, parts and equipment.Records – Keep records of breakdowns, tasks performed and scheduled maintenance, and your parts inventory. There are many computer programs available for setting up a preventive-maintenance program. Records enable you to build a history for budgeting, inventory and replacement. I use my calendar on my computer and schedule the tasks as reoccurring events. Preventive-maintenance tasks pop up as appointments, and you can record notes and other information.Time – Allot time for each task performed. Most daily tasks can be performed by operators at start-up. It’s easier and less time-consuming to perform maintenance on equipment if you have backup machinery available. Maintenance may have to be performed before or after normal hours.Space – You’ll need space to work, to stock parts, to keep tools organized, and to keep your library and records available. This should be a place that’s separate from the production floor, with a lock on the door.Parts – Start with the recommended parts list from the manufacturer. Most equipment manuals have a list. Build and keep an accurate inventory.Blowdown and Vacuum Systems – These systems are usually the first step in a preventive-maintenance program.Library – Have the equipment manual for each piece of equipment for reference and troubleshooting.Knowledge – The more you have, the less downtime your operation will incur. The American Laundry and Linen College or the Certified Laundry and Linen Management correspondence course provides information or has specific chapters on preventive maintenance. Equipment manufacturers conduct seminars and training.Phone – Your most important resource is the manufacturer. Most have technicians available during business hours to offer you advice and to answer questions. Be aware of time zones when calling.Communication – If you have a separate maintenance department, be sure to communicate with the chief engineer. Follow up on the tasks performedSafety – This is the most important component in your program. You must have a lock-out/tag-out system in place when working on any machinery.


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