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? EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Curtis McDowell is the general manager and head of OPL sales for Laundry City Equipment, Indianapolis, a distributor of commercial and industrial laundry equipment. He has more than 17 years of industry experience, including service and sales.
A preventive maintenance (PM) program is the best method an equipment owner has of protecting his investment. Unfortunately, it’s probably the least practiced.
A small amount of time and a minimal amount of resources can help to prevent costly repairs and add to the longevity of equipment.
The first and most important step in implementing a program begins with procuring the equipment manuals. Most manufacturers have PM sections that outline the daily, as well as monthly and quarterly, requirements. If the manuals have been misplaced, you can usually get replacements from your local distributor. It’s best to develop a written or printed PM schedule that can be placed either in a binder or on a clipboard and kept near the equipment.
A small investment in spare parts can reap huge benefits when compared to the cost of a service call. Items such as belts, gaskets, valve-rebuild kits and other wearable components should be kept on hand to ensure operational efficiency as well as preventing unnecessary downtime due to repairs.
Proper preparation should also include stocking the necessary lubricants for all bearings, chains, pivot points, etc. It’s imperative that manufacturer-recommended lubricants be used. There’s a big difference between low-cost grease and one that offers high viscosity and resistance to extreme temperatures.
The amount of time spent in performing PM is directly related to the size and quantity of the equipment. On average, you should spend at least one hour per washer or dryer on a monthly basis.
PM schedules for washers should include checking belts, bearings, gaskets, mounting bolts, AC-drive filters, hoses and all safety switches. Schedules for dryers should include belts, bearings, gaskets, burners, lint screens, thermostats and all safety switches. Place a big emphasis on limiting lint accumulation to a minimum, not only in the dryer but in the exhaust duct as well.
Finishing equipment such as feeders, ironers and folders will need more maintenance time due to their size and complexity of operation. PM should include all belts, bearings, textiles and sensors.
Run and test all equipment immediately following PM to ensure proper operation.
The local distributor is typically more than happy to assist in setting up a reliable PM program for the equipment owner. They’re the greatest resource for information regarding the care and operation of equipment.
If personnel problems prevent an owner from implementing a PM program, many distributors will offer one at a discounted rate. This usually involves having an experienced service technician visit the facility on a quarterly basis to spend an adequate amount of time inspecting each piece of equipment and performing the necessary PM.
Regardless of the methods, it’s the wise equipment owner who sees the benefits of a comprehensive PM program. Although history credits the famous English judge, Henry de Bracton, I’m pretty sure it was my Mom who said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”CONSULTING: Gerard O'Neill is president and CEO of American Laundry Systems, Haverhill, Mass., which caters exclusively to commercial laundries in providing plant design, layout, mechanical and utility specifications, independent equipment recommendations, consulting services and project management.
Setting up a planned maintenance program from scratch for a facility that’s processing 250,000 to 300,000 pounds per week while operating five days a week involves:
Knowledge of equipment
Identify all equipment that requires routine maintenance. Inventory all equipment (model number, serial number, number of each, etc.). Ensure technical documentation for all equipment is on hand. Evaluate the current condition of your equipment.
Preventative maintenance (PM)
A qualified maintenance manager (one capable of administering a schedule, giving guidance for repair, repairing equipment and establishing sound maintenance practices, to name a few aspects) should work during first shift to be available for management coordination, but should not object to being on call during other shifts.
There should be a maintenance crew, with one per shift minimum. Primary duties are corrective maintenance, with secondary duties assisting with preventative and predictive maintenance.
There is a preventative-/predictive-maintenance person. Primary duties are preventative and predictive maintenance, with secondary duties assisting with corrective maintenance.
Establish a quarterly PM consumables budget.
Establish a cycle of annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly PM schedules. A cycle refers to long-term planning, using a three- to five-year plan. This would include phase replacement of equipment and/or updating existing equipment.
Establish an annual OEM maintenance budget and plan. Certain tasks may be best suited to be performed by a manufacturer representative, especially if the maintenance budget or staffing is not as strong as it should be.
The plant manager should establish a means for managing maintenance: conduct spot checks, review schedules, approve schedules, review budgets, approve budgets, and ensure OSHA safety guidelines and lock-out/tag-out procedures are correctly utilized by maintenance personnel.
Outsource the maintenance crew and plant manager work if you’re not able to administer from within.
Cross-train machinery operators to conduct simple, weekly maintenance.
Use a computer-based scheduling software that incorporates tracking costs, man-hours, etc.
Utilize specialty PM programs designed to take care of things that aren’t covered by equipment vendors, to include valves, gauges/thermometers/meters, electrical service and general housekeeping.
Establish and implement equipment operations logs:
Boiler feed water chemistry (should be checked daily for TDS and hardness; chemical titration is most accurate).
- Mechanical room. Pressures, temperatures, flows, amperage draws and material condition observations can be monitored to ensure that the process support equipment is operating correctly.
- Meter readings (electrical, fuel, water and sewer).
- Process equipment operating logs (run times, temperatures and pressures in headers, material condition observations).
Utilize predictive-maintenance features to plan for corrective maintenance. For example, from a material-condition note, it was noted that washer seals were leaking. Thus, new seals were ordered.
Ensure proper operation and calibration of monitoring equipment.
Allot the proper man-hours and qualified personnel.
Schedule during downtime and once parts are on hand, if able. Solicit outside assistance, if needed. And allot the proper man-hours and qualified personnel.
There should be a minimum of three to four maintenance people (including manager) for a single-shift operation of this size. Types and number of equipment will dictate budget for maintenance.
In general, there will probably be about 60 to 80 man-hours in preventative maintenance and 10 to 20 man-hours in predictive maintenance. Corrective maintenance is a function of how well predictive and preventative maintenance is completed.TEXTILE/UNIFORM RENTAL: Roger Bourdeau is chief engineer for the Angelica Textile Services plant in Pawtucket, R.I. He's worked 22 years in the plant, having started as a production associate in 1983. He's completed many training programs and has a Rhode Island Stationary Operating Engineer license.
Preventive maintenance (PM) is the number one thing you can do to keep your plant on time, profitable and trouble-free.
Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) is the best tool in your toolbox to get this done. But this can only happen if the data generated by such programs is utilized correctly. We’ll get back to that aspect in a moment.
There are a myriad of programs available to the small independent operator with three conventional washers, right up to six-tunnel “super” plants and everything in between.
Many are simple, easy-to-use (and sometimes free) programs that can store basic tasks, generate preventive-maintenance work orders and allow some degree of tracking. They can be administered by an owner/operator on his or her PC easily. This approach will work adequately for smaller facilities with a focus on keeping their machinery top-notch.
Once one moves up in size and/or volume, you’ll need to consider more bells and whistles such as inventory-tracking, cost-monitoring and predictive-maintenance tools. Of course, with greater features comes greater cost – you’ll not likely find one of this caliber for free.OK, I have my CMMS on hand. What now?
The best place to begin is in your manufacturer’s manual. All of them have a list of recommended preventive tasks and the frequency at which they should be performed. Some may even suggest which parts are needed to perform a given service.
Remember that most recommendations are based on a 40-hour-per-week operation; you may have to increase your frequencies accordingly. But if you’ve been in a maintenance environment for a while, you already have a feel for which service intervals might be overkill and which ones truly need to be done as stated.
The next part, entering this data, is the most daunting.
It may take a few hours or several weeks to build your PM program, but the rewards are worth it.
Don’t forget to assign the service intervals to each machine for each task. As your PM work orders are generated, you can schedule your workflow around it. Smaller facilities may be able to take a machine out of service for an hour or two during the day. Others will have to do their PM during off-hours.
Either way, close your work order upon completion so your program can help you monitor which machines are getting the attention they deserve and which ones aren’t.
Depending on the features your program has, you can see the cost associated with keeping your equipment in good working order. Compare this to the cost of un-scheduled downtime and the value of such a program begins to shine – just like your equipment will!