CHICAGO — Preventive maintenance is a major component in a safe and productive laundry facility, says Bob Corfield, president of Laundry Design Group, a consulting firm. Speaking recently with a number of laundry professionals during a webinar sponsored by the Association for Linen Management, Corfield urged his listeners to design and implement a plant-wide preventive maintenance program.
Diligence is the key, he says, including tests, calibrations, adjustments and partial replacements to help identify and prevent faults from occurring and from becoming total equipment failures.
A good program will focus on safety, improving efficiency, optimizing utilities, reducing downtime, improving production quality, and reducing replacement costs, as well as preserving and maintaining relationships between management and employees.
“Every good program should have these as the bedrock or core values of your program design,” Corfield says.
Preventive maintenance can also be called reactive maintenance. This can be considered as pre-planning for events, particularly in a seven-day operation with two or three shifts. Using a software program, engineers can plan for breakdowns, have all the parts and tools on hand and organized by event, and Corfield says, with enough history, an engineer might be able to catch a fault before it becomes a catastrophic failure.
He suggests a program designed not by day or month, but by hours of operation. “A system set-up where you’re actually looking at hours of operation per piece of equipment is more effective to get proactive in your maintenance design program,” he says.
Any system or component has the potential to directly impact the entire plant.
Once a preventive maintenance program is in place, there will be continuous evaluations of equipment and personnel that are critical to a successful program. It’s an ongoing and ever-improving process, Corfield says.
The eventual goal, Corfield says, is to get to a predictive maintenance level, and while it is initially expensive, it will pay off significantly in asset life and uptime productivity.
In some cases, vendors may share the cost of such systems. For example, an automated monorail system can be monitored both locally by plant staff and remotely by the manufacturer.
“With a good preventive maintenance program installed, and with some history behind you, you’re going to be in a position where can start predicting potential problems,” Corfield says.
Getting ahead of problems, scheduling downtime, and having in place a good program are the goals to allow a facility to stay up and running.