7 Steps to Optimize Maintenance

Ricky Smith
Tags: condition monitoring, continuous improvement, planning and scheduling

7 Steps to Optimize Maintenance

Most companies are looking for ways to optimize maintenance and reliability to reduce costs and increase reliability simultaneously. In most cases, this process requires an investment.

John Day is a retired Engineering and Maintenance Manager for Alcoa Mt. Holly, and my mentor for over 20 years. He is responsible for creating the “World Class Maintenance” Model, which has impacted organizations around the world. John stated that maintenance requires an investment, and without an investment, you cannot achieve the expected results.

Maintenance Approaches

From a basic point of view, there are two maintenance approaches. One approach is reactive, and the other is proactive. While many combinations are possible with these approaches, we’ll focus on them at their most fundamental levels.

The Reactive System

The reactive system (Figure 1.1) responds to a work request or identified need, usually in production, and depends on rapid response measures to be effective. The goals of this approach are to reduce response time to a minimum and equipment downtime to an acceptable level. While this approach is used by many operators today and incorporates preventive and predictive maintenance, results typically do not meet expectations.

The Proactive Approach

The proactive approach (Figure 1.2) responds primarily to equipment assessments and predictive procedures. The overwhelming majority of corrective, preventive and modification work is generated internally as a result of work identified from preventive and predictive maintenance.

The goals of this method are:

Alcoa Mt. Holly practiced the proactive method; the following comments are based on the experience and results of pursuing this vision of maintenance.

Maintenance Management Philosophy

Alcoa Mt. Holly’s maintenance management concept is the idea that maintenance should be planned, scheduled, and executed in a way that encourages and supports an efficient, continuously operating facility.

Add to this that maintenance would also be treated as an investment rather than a cost, and you have the comprehensive philosophy on which the maintenance management system was built. While an investment is expected to show a positive return, so should maintenance be expected to improve an operation’s profitability.

The maintenance management philosophy is just as important as the philosophy established for any business operation. For most industries, maintenance is a supervised function at best, with little real cost control. But it must be a managed function employing the best methods and systems available in order to produce valuable results that have a positive effect on profitability.

The development of a philosophy that supports the concept of “planned and scheduled” proactive maintenance was critical to success. It is believed that many maintenance management deficiencies or failures have resulted from having poorly constructed, ineffective procedures, systems, or popular programs that are relied too heavily upon and have no real philosophical basis.

Planning and scheduling were designed to increase maintenance wrench time and mitigate human error, resulting in reduced equipment failures, lower costs, and increased process reliability.

The 7 Steps to Optimize Maintenance

Step 1: Educate and Align Your Team in Proactive Maintenance

Key stakeholders must be knowledgeable in proactive maintenance to ensure alignment by all stakeholders. This includes the following:

Step 2: Assess the Current State of Your Maintenance Process with Key Stakeholders

Key elements of performing a maintenance assessment include:

Step 3: Create a Master Plan

This starts by first identifying quick maintenance wins and then applying the Crawl, Walk, Run methodology with all stakeholders.

Crawl, Walk, Run Methodology

Multi-step implementation plan focused on creating change in manageable steps. Crawling plans out objectives; walking applies the changes; running makes sweeping changes that fully integrate the plan.

Step 4: Measure the Impact of the Plan

This can be measured using a Maintenance Scorecard. This scorecard should be posted in critical areas at your plant or site, including:

Step 5: Define Roles and Responsibilities for All Processes

This can be achieved by:

Step 6: Host Weekly “Toolbox Talks”

These weekly toolbox talks should be a maximum of 30 minutes long, be hosted by the maintenance supervisor, and involve all key stakeholders.

Before the meeting, have everyone read supporting documents that accompany the meeting’s talking points; have everyone identify three things they learned from the document. After a few sessions, ask a technician to host a session about any topic they like, as long as it adds value to the company’s asset reliability goals.

To help guarantee success, consider:

Step 7: Offer Certification Preparation Training

Offer certification training, specifically in Maintenance and Reliability, to anyone interested. Popular industry certifications to consider include the Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP) and the Certified Maintenance & Reliability Technician (CMRT).

The benefits of certification are apparent and extremely attractive for practitioners in many organizations across the world. Some of these benefits include: