Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 2:22 pm on

On his second day as head of operations, John was assured by the maintenance manager that Excelsior had a solid PM program in place. With seemingly more important things to learn, John accepted the convincing response on face value. As a newcomer to the trade, John did not know that major customers routinely audited vendors’ facilities, procedures and practices to insure uninterrupted flow of materials and supplies.

Exactly two weeks after John’s start, Excelsior’s largest customer arrived unannounced to conduct an audit. Among other things, it cited the company on its unacceptable PM program awarding it a failing grade.

With only a month to comply, John jumped on the problem, finding that the company had an extensive set of procedures in place and a composition book assigned to each piece of equipment to document the required maintenance. While the procedures looked good, examination of the forty-eight composition books revealed a total of seven undated entries! Immediately, it was clear what was missing:

  • A way to monitor the what and the when;
  • A way to communicate the information; and
  • A way to track responsibility and insure completion.

John called in a local business consultant, who had significant experience in operations management and database design. The approach was as follows:

  • A database program was created to monitor and communicate maintenance actions.
  • Key people were trained.
  • Hard copy maintenance work orders were generated twice each week.
  • Upon completion of the maintenance, the maintenance work orders were signed, dated and returned to management.
  • Management recorded the action as complete in the database.
  • To track responsibility and progress, an open item report was established and issued to key maintenance and management personnel every Wednesday.

Since implementation, the program continually passes the toughest of audits including one performed to evaluate the company’s readiness for an FDA inspection. The most positive change has been the improvement in equipment reliability. Downtime due to breakdowns is practically non-existent - not bad for a company where the average equipment age is 30 years!

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Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 2:55 am on

Make no mistake about it, setting up and effectively managing a PM program takes a fair amount of time and a lot of ongoing commitment. However, the toughest part in implementing a program will be changing the fix-it-when-it-breaks mentality within your organization. Having personally seen the before and after results, I am convinced that a properly constructed and soundly executed PM program will improve equipment reliability and performance and translate into saved time and money. If you are considering a program for your company, I hope that the following outline will be of some help.

  • Establish a preventive maintenance procedure that defines the overall goal, the responsible parties and acceptable time allowance for completion of each activity.
  • Identify each piece of equipment and its location.
  • Breakdown each piece of equipment into its key components.
  • Define the repetitive maintenance actions needed to insure the reliability of each key component. Many OEM manuals have a section devoted to PM and oftentimes they can be found on the Internet. In the absence of one for a specific component, look for one that is similar and adapt it paying particular attention to the activities covering cleaning, lubrication and wear.
  • Define the length of time between each action.
  • Set-up an overall schedule so that mechanics’ activity is balanced (avoid crowding actions into a specific group of months while leaving other months unscheduled).
  • Generate two activity reports for each component due once per week, one for the assigned mechanic and one for your reminder file.
  • Collect completed reports and remove corresponding reminder copies.
  • Develop a weekly status report summarizing all open items, responsible parties & due date.
  • Select an individual to manage the program. The right person should be detail-oriented, on-time with his or her assignments, and technically-oriented.

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I welcome your invite to connect!

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