Plant maintenance has immense importance for facility operations and their customers as it ensures equipment reliability, streamlined operations, and efficient machine and inventory processes. Manufacturers are constantly looking for effective ways for better margins and improvements, while customers search for higher quality at reasonable prices. Plant maintenance is one of the most effective ways to help manufacturers achieve their objectives.
A Quick Glance at Plant Maintenance
Plant maintenance benefits several industries and facilities that work on manufacturing or industrial equipment – offering multiple operational efficiencies, process improvements, production streamlining, and bottom-line benefits.
Some key industries where it is true are as follows:
- Building Products
- Heavy Equipment
- Consumer Packaged Goods
- Power Distribution
- Paper & Pulp
- Tire and Rubber
What is Plant Maintenance?
Plant maintenance involves strategies, methods, and practices to keep the industrial equipment functioning efficiently. It includes regular equipment evaluation to ensure efficient functioning, cleaning garbage bins and toilets. The main objective of plant maintenance is to create a productive environment for workers.
Since there are several types of plants and factories, the methods involve in maintaining these facilities also vary. Generally, a maintenance plan includes equipment checkups, trouble-shooting, and general clean-up. Most plants have their maintenance staff. It includes workers such as on-site engineers who ensure that machines continue to function correctly. It is essential for plants that use equipment designed for assembly lines since blockage in the lines can cause severe damage.
Why is plant maintenance necessary?
Plant maintenance has immense significance for industries and other facilities. Following are some of the significant reasons why industries focus on plant maintenance.
- It helps reduce forced downtime by converting unplanned downtime into planned downtime.
- Plant maintenance has a wide range of duties, depending upon the maintenance department’s type of production and size.
- The maintenance engineer inspects the machines, determines if it needs any alterations, and then reports to the plant manager.
- The maintenance department works on alterations and improvements in the existing equipment to minimize breakdowns.
- The maintenance department has a vital role in production because plant breakdown leads to severe problems, including time loss, need for overtime, temporary work shortages, spoilt materials, rescheduling of production, failure to recover overheads, weak productivity.
- Moreover, equipment breakdown causes serious problems.
- If equipment stops working, the whole line comes to a halt, resulting in severe problems in the functioning of the equipment. It also blocks other lines unless the maintenance staff fixes the fault.
- It leads to an immediate loss in productivity and loss in revenue.
- A neglected plant will eventually require detailed inspection, which may cause a lot of money and time. Moreover, it requires frequent examinations and alterations if the industry does not maintain it properly.
How to perform a plant maintenance assessment?
The below-mentioned list is an example of performing a plant maintenance assessment. Since different factories and industries benefit from plant maintenance, the assessment method may vary. Some of the critical steps that maintenance staff perform while inspecting a plant are as follows.
- Hours ran since last serviced
- Total hours ran
- Maintenance schedule
- Fluid Analysis
- Vibration analysis
- Thermal imaging (Pumps, motors, steam traps, etc.)
- Visual Inspection
- Voltage/Amp Draw
- Ultrasonic leak detection
- Equipment name
- Serial number
Main objectives of plant maintenance
The main objective of plant maintenance is to ensure that the machines function efficiently. Moreover, it also focuses on maintaining them regularly to keep the maintenance costs low. Here are some key objectives of plant maintenance.
- Keeping machines in peak operating conditions to enhance productivity.
- Minimizing wearing out of the equipment
- Reducing the chances of unplanned equipment breakdowns
- Reducing the maintenance time during planned shutdowns.
- Enhancing the life of machines and equipment
- Ensuring a safer environment for workers
- Reducing maintenance costs (such as labor costs, lost productivity because of the breakdown of faulty machines, cost of spare parts)
Why do we need plant maintenance?
Plant maintenance improves the health and safety of workers by minimizing the chances of workplace accidents. Moreover, it helps industries and factories achieve asset optimization by lessening unplanned breakdowns. Plant maintenance allows machines to perform efficiently and decreases costs associated with equipment performance. It also increases the reliability of control.
What are the Types of Plant Maintenance?
Plant maintenance has a broader range of types involved to maintain the machines and equipment. Here, we have the main types and sub-types of plant maintenance.
1. Breakdown Maintenance
In Breakdown Maintenance, the staff often repairs the equipment of machines when it breaks downs and fails to perform its normal functions properly. In such cases, maintenance staff comes into action and takes necessary measures to repair the faulty machines after inspecting.
Breakdowns lead to poor maintenance, more spoilt material, excessive delays in production, and profit loss. Smaller plants often opt for corrective maintenance. Breakdown Maintenance requires fewer records and smaller staff.
2. Planned Maintenance
Maintenance staff performs planned maintenance before the equipment fails to function. The maintenance department tries to avoid machine failure and subsequent losses in planned maintenance.
Types of Planned maintenance
There are four types of planned maintenance: Preventive Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, Corrective Maintenance, and Shutdown Maintenance. Here, let us discuss each type in detail.
Maintenance staff performs preventive maintenance regularly on a piece of equipment to reduce the likelihood of failing. Maintenance staff performs preventive maintenance while the equipment is functioning to avoid sudden machine or equipment breakdowns.
It helps determine the condition of in-service machines or equipment to predict the next maintenance. It promises cost savings over time-based or routine preventive maintenance because maintenance staff only performs when warranted.
Before establishing the predictive maintenance program, factories must take the following steps:
- Analyze the need for the equipment
- Analyze the failure history of the equipment
- Review all available records on defected equipment, downtime, potential regulatory fines, losses, and workplace safety
- Establish definitions and concepts and build a case for predictive maintenance
- Educate major industries about the techniques
- Complete an equipment inventory
- Evaluative the current condition of the equipment
- Select equipment for the initial implementation of the program
- Develop system details based on individual components and systems
- Evaluate any existing maintenance data
- Decide what to inspect and which systems to include
- Define the program’s maintenance frequency, criticality, and schedule type
- Evaluate the anticipated resources
- Assign maintenance worker’s responsibilities and roles
Maintenance staff performs corrective maintenance to identify, isolate, and rectify a fault to restore the failed equipment, machine, or system to an operational condition within limits established for in-service operations.
Maintenance staff performs shutdown maintenance while the equipment is not in use. Shutting down machinery is often costly. However, sometimes, shutdown maintenance is the only effective method to restore the machine in working condition because of the fault in the machines.
What are the Benefits of Plant Maintenance?
Plant maintenance is essential in inventory because it is essential to have correct parts for proper functioning. Moreover, it helps to enhance the efficiency and repair process when needed. Here, we have some significant benefits of plant maintenance that industries and facilities often enjoy.
Higher production quality
By keeping the machines up-to-date through maintenance, industries often enjoy the following benefits:
- Higher production quality
- Fewer part defects and rejections
- Increased repeatability
- Less need for rework
- Less corrective secondary processes
- Improvement in production processes
Lower risk of breakdowns
Reducing the risks of breakdowns is also a benefit that most industries wish to enjoy. If industries or facilities maintain their machines and equipment frequently, they will reduce the chances of breakdowns. Moreover, waiting for devices to stop working puts them at risk of damaging reputations and lost productivity. Scheduling regular maintenance can lower the chances of equipment failure and ensure peace of mind.
Decrease unplanned downtime
Whether you choose any plant maintenance, machine downtime is inevitable. However, you can quickly reduce the downtime by scheduling maintenance in advance with the type of plant maintenance that suits your need.
Promote health and safety
Accurately tracking and performing plant maintenance help improve the health and safety of the facility. Since it is a primary concern of almost facilities, they focus more on plant maintenance to keep their workers in a safer environment, as dangerous equipment also functions.
Since machines and equipment operate at peak efficiency, it also improves productivity. It often leads to an improved ROI on maintenance expenses.
Which Industries Benefit from Plant Maintenance?
Plant maintenance is essential for all types of facilities and industries. They perform different maintenance programs to ensure the efficient functioning of their machines and equipment. The methods and procedures may vary, depending on the size and type of industry, but almost all big and small industries perform plant maintenance. Plant maintenance benefits a wide range of sectors, including:
- Oil and gas industry
- Food and beverage industry
- Manufacturing industry
- Automotive industry
- IT industry
- Power and Energy Industry and more
Oil and gas industry
The oil and gas industry conducts regular maintenance because it would suffer massive losses if the machines or equipment fails to perform efficiently. The industry’s primary objective revolves around reducing maintenance costs and minimizing the risks of environmental disasters.
The different types of plant maintenance allow the oil and gas industry to remotely monitor the assets’ condition while lowering inspection expenses and providing enough information to avoid dangerous equipment failures. The sensors installed feed data into predictive algorithms to warn the maintenance staff about potential losses.
Food and Beverage Industry
Although the food and beverage industry are not a threat to the environment, it can affect people’s health. The only way to prevent health risks is by having a controlled and stable environment to protect and store food and drink.
With the vastness of the food and beverage industry, it is not difficult to imagine the importance of food storing equipment and tools essential in creating a safer environment for consumption.
The food and beverage industry tackles multiple maintenance challenges, from strict regulatory standards to complex machines. Broken equipment can cause severe health issues. It not only destroys the factory’s reputation, but in worst cases, it leads to spoiling foods, which may mix with fresh foods when delivered to customers.
Downtimes and machinery failures occur no matter what preventive methods you take on. It is undoubtedly true in the manufacturing industry more than in any other industry. However, with data collection, industries can reduce unplanned downtime.
Downtime may cost manufacturers over $22k per minute. Therefore, manufacturing industries focus on plant maintenance to reduce the costs of sudden breakdowns.
Just like machines display future breakdowns and signs of damage, so does computer hardware. Since the signs are difficult to notice, industries often use sensitive tools to analyze hardware to ensure efficient functioning. Using state-of-the-art technology allows industries to see patterns and make reasonably accurate guesses to predict the future maintenance of computer hardware. Since IT hardware controls navigation and telecommunications, it is essential to maintain them to avoid accidents. It is not difficult to imagine the faulty loss hardware can create.
Power and Energy Industry
While dealing with power plants, maintaining a tight grip is essential, especially during deriving energy that involves multiple moving parts. Like other industries, finding faulty equipment and acting on time to repair it is critical in the power and energy industry. Negligence in maintaining the faulty machines or equipment on time may lead to huge losses or even, at times, leads to an organization’s bankruptcy. However, if the industry focuses on maintaining their machines and equipment frequently, they can improve asset efficiency and minimize sudden breakdowns and high maintenance costs.
Plant Maintenance in Summary
Plant maintenance is essential in all types of industries. Although the methods involved in maintaining the machines and equipment may differ, the industries cannot neglect timely maintenance. Plant maintenance offers multiple benefits to all types of industries. Since every industry’s main objective is to generate revenue, they cannot ignore maintaining their faulty machines. However, if any industry fails to maintain their equipment, they suffer from huge losses.
Read more about MWM’s plant maintenance expertise and services. We have a vetted group of sub-contractors and partnerships with various engineering and architectural firms for complete design-build applications.