You Either Pay Now ... or Pay Later

Randy Stiver |

When money is tight, some may think that cutting preventive maintenance is the best option. Before taking that approach, let’s have a good understanding of the role and function of maintenance and where it fits within an organization.DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES
The typical organization divides responsibilities into three groups:

  • Management.
  • Production and operations.
  • Maintenance.

Management possesses the business “vision” and is responsible for explaining this vision to the rest of the organization.
Our vision has four goals:

  • Produce a product or service (make “dirty” things “clean”).

  • Produce a quality product (keep customers happy).
  • Stop losses, including energy, defects and deviation (lower operating costs to increase profits).
  • Continuously improve and optimize the process, quality, equipment and people (survive against competition).

Management monitors business conditions to provide warnings of change in performance or condition to minimize impact. Management determines what changes are needed and through its support, or lack of, which changes become the next “program of the year.”
Production and operations determine in what condition to operate the equipment (factory-new or to run the machines to destruction). Production and operations determine when to schedule shutdowns for overhaul and refurbishing the equipment. 
Maintenance is responsible for supporting production. Core functions include: design, construct, install, maintain, modify, and modernize all equipment and physical facility assets. 
Another maintenance responsibility is to keep the utilities (the lifeblood of the facility) flowing.
Utilities can be divided into those internally or externally produced. External providers bring electricity, gas, water, phone, Internet, sewage, and waste disposal to our doorstep using “high reliability” equipment, procedures, and qualified personnel.
Maintenance operates and maintains the in-house equipment to generate internal utilities such as: hot water; tempered water; water softening; wastewater treatment; steam; compressed air; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); chemicals; security; and fire protection. Additionally, maintenance may be involved with the IT network in maintaining mission-critical programmed data, passwords, and program keys.
Beyond the utilities, production equipment must be kept running. The skill set needed can range from maintaining basic mechanical drives to highly technical computer-networked control systems with electronic feedback.
Finding and hiring skilled maintenance personnel is difficult, and most plants don’t have a fully skilled maintenance workforce. Most repetitive equipment problems are a direct result of skill deficiencies—20% of equipment can cause 80% of problems. The true cost of these recurring problems can be staggering.
Training can overcome skill deficiencies. When some ask, “What if we train them and they leave?” I ask, “What if you don’t and they stay?”
Training keeps people from becoming frustrated and stressed when they don’t know the proper way to do a specific task. A person who feels competent is a better worker and is easily motivated.
Training also helps identify which failures are caused by:

  • Equipment design;

  • Equipment condition;
  • Poor operating practices;
  • Poor maintenance practices; and
  • Lack of training.

An indication of management’s commitment to improvement and employee development with “pay now or pay later” consequences is the annual number of training days per maintenance craftsperson that aren’t mandatory or regulatory. What percentages of payroll dollars are budgeted for training?LIFETIME EQUIPMENT COSTS
Lifetime equipment costs are more than just the purchase price, shipping and installation. During difficult economic times, refurbishing a piece of machinery may make more sense than purchasing replacement equipment.
The lowest purchase price is not always the best choice. Consider the energy costs and efficiency of an air compressor. Three-quarters of the lifetime equipment cost is electricity, and the other 25% is split between the purchase price and maintenance costs. The higher initial purchase price of a more energy-efficient model can lead to significantly lower lifetime equipment costs.
Additional lifetime equipment costs to consider are startup, maintenance, serviceability, user training, upgrades, and decommissioning.PRIOR PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE
Successful maintenance work management relies on six P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Keys to effective work and labor management include:

  • Key Performance Indicators.

  • Weekly plan.
  • Daily schedule.
  • Work orders.
  • Written procedures.

Key Performance Indicators — KPI are the gathered facts, reports and numbers that give us “useful” information regarding the condition of the business. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so whether you generate daily, weekly or monthly reports, you need a sense of the past and present to be able to plan for the future.
A quick quality-check KPI is as simple as using our senses of smell, sight and touch with the finished product. Take a good whiff of the linen. Take a look at the whites, or are they gray? Wrinkled? Is the feel soft or harsh? What will your customer think?
A KPI of maintenance labor and work management is a visit to the maintenance shop on Monday morning. Is the worktable clean? Are the tools put away? Is the floor swept and clean? Is the trash can empty? The overall condition of the plant and the machinery is generally in similar condition.Weekly Plan — Answering “No” to all of the above may also indicate that there is no weekly plan, no list of priorities to work on (a joint maintenance and production list).Daily Schedule — The daily schedule is reactive maintenance. Work orders are defined as the intercom paging system. And the manuals for the equipment are incomplete or missing. This is bad.Work Orders — Work orders allow prioritizing and scheduling. There should be a plan for the materials, equipment, people and environment needed to implement the actions, evaluate the results, and improve the process for the future.
Work orders also track equipment history and should include: equipment identification, date, time, and downtime. Some questions to answer include: What component failed? What was the cause of failure? Was the problem resolved? Could the failure have been prevented?Written Procedures — Written procedures describe the best way to perform a known task. They also ease the transition when personnel are absent for reasons such as new employment, vacation, illness, personal time, etc.
Written procedures can include the steps required to open the facility and safely turn on all the internal utilities needed for production. Equally important are the proper order and procedures to safely shut down the equipment and utilities, and lock up the facility. Written procedures can be used at the machine level to describe how to perform specific tasks and how to operate the machinery.MAINTENANCE CATEGORIES
Maintenance tasks fit into three general categories: reactive, preventive (PM), and predictive (PdM).
The main question is whether maintenance is planned or unplanned. Unplanned maintenance is the most expensive type of maintenance and upsets production.Reactive Maintenance — This can be described as breakdown- or emergency-corrective. There is a problem with quality, production has slowed, or, worse, stopped! It’s an emergency—quick, correct the problem!Preventive Maintenance — This effort is time-based and involves performing tasks on a scheduled basis (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually) to “prevent” reactive maintenance. PM looks for warning signs of condition changes using the five senses in looking for, listening for, touching and trying to sniff out problems before the “vision” is affected.Predictive Maintenance — Unfortunately, most failures are not time-based. So, instead of time-based tasks, predictive maintenance (PdM) performs “needed” maintenance based on the condition of the equipment and process. Reliability and maintenance personnel use technology to extend their senses to detect the earliest warning of condition changes before serious damage occurs.
They use infrared imaging to “see” heat. Ultrasonic detectors “hear” friction and turbulence. And vibration analyzers “touch” machinery vibrations to determine which problems are caused by mass imbalance, misalignment, or bearing faults. 
Oil analysis “smells” and “tastes” lubricant condition to schedule replacement and can analyze particles for internal-parts wear.
PdM analyzes which time-based PM tasks are actually needed and what is the correct maintenance interval for each situation.
For example, a hydraulic press in a tunnel system requires 65 gallons of oil for system replacement. The manufacturer recommends changing annually, but the oil-analysis results may reveal that three years is a suitable interval.
The return on investment in savings and increased reliability from a maintenance approach that is proactive rather than reactive has been proven time and time again. Whether you are a commercial, industrial or on-premise laundry (OPL), a PM program can keep equipment running efficiently and thereby reduce unnecessary utilities and costs.
The time spent on planned vs. unplanned maintenance is a key indicator of pay now or pay later. We can continue to run the machines to failure and keep expecting a different result. Or, we can view maintenance and reliability as a process that requires attention to detail and continual improvement.
Maintenance is an investment that can be thought of as an on-premise risk management and insurance provider for keeping the vision alive and well.

About the author

Randy Stiver


Randy Stiver has more than 25 years of experience in the industrial laundry industry. For 18 of those years, he worked for Pellerin Milnor Corp. in customer service, field engineering, and training and education. He is now the technical director and a principal of ASTAR LLC, “A Service, Training, and Reliability Company,” where he is responsible for system optimization, training, and equipment reliability.


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