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How equipment repair and maintenance are crucial to your business

Any industry that deals with complex or specialized equipment needs equipment maintenance to be a regular habit. Consistent inspections and repairs help you maintain workflows and address problems proactively

Any business working in a field like construction, manufacturing, or another industry reliant on machinery needs to establish equipment maintenance protocols. Keeping a watchful eye on equipment status helps avoid surprises like a sudden breakdown or misshapen machine parts.

Equipment repair is crucial because for so many industries, the tools and machinery you use are some of your most valuable assets. Ensuring all equipment is functioning at the highest level possible is the same as ensuring that your business can continue to perform at said high level.

Table of contents

1. What is equipment maintenance?

2. What are the benefits of equipment repair and maintenance?

2.1. Lower downtime

2.2. Decrease business costs

2.3. Lengthen equipment lifespan

2.4. Improve worker safety

3. What types of equipment maintenance are there?

3.1. Reactive maintenance

3.2. Preventive maintenance

3.3. Predictive maintenance

4. What roles are there in equipment maintenance?

4.1. Maintenance technician

4.2. Maintenance supervisor

4.3. Maintenance manager

5. How do you establish an equipment maintenance process?

5.1. Use equipment properly

5.2. Maintain inventory

5.3. Keep equipment lubricated

5.4. Conduct regular inspections

5.5. Make repairs fast

What is equipment maintenance?

Any process you use to inspect and/or repair the equipment used in your business falls under equipment maintenance. This equipment includes:

Equipment maintenance is most effective when performed regularly, as that is how you’ll get the most benefit from it. Remember that the goal of equipment maintenance and regular equipment repair is to help you maintain operational excellence by eliminating wasted time and disruptions, as well as making employees safer. Other goals of vigilant equipment management are:

  • Decreasing unnecessary spending
  • Increasing the life cycle of your equipment
  • Keeping your facility and workers safe
  • Reducing downtime

As crucial as equipment maintenance is, there is a limit. Generally speaking, your equipment repair costs should not exceed 5% of the equipment’s value. This is the point where you begin losing more than you’re gaining by relying on old machinery; and it’s the reason why good equipment maintenance starts with purchasing quality equipment in the first place.

With that said, let’s explore exactly how diligent equipment management helps your business stay competitive.

What are the benefits of equipment repair and maintenance?

Lower downtime

Downtime is obviously not good for your business, since it means lost productivity. Moreover, the leading cause of downtime is equipment failure, which is responsible for 42% of unexpected delays.

Equipment downtime also increases the longer you go without performing maintenance, since equipment repairs which might have been small fixes may become more involved. It might even happen that you aren’t able to fix issues on your own and need to contact an outside mechanic.

Decrease business costs

In addition to the time you save and the process optimization you facilitate by avoiding downtime, you save a significant amount of money. Downtime caused by equipment failure can cost up to $50 billion a year depending on your industry – in the automotive industry, a single minute lost costs around $22,000.

The costs of machine downtime can be divided into several categories, which are:

  • Detection costs: Detection cost is the amount (in money, time, and other resources) you spend identifying the root cause of downtime
  • Containment costs: Containment refers to actions you take in order to minimize the impact of downtime and prevent it from affecting other pieces of equipment
  • Recovery costs: Recovery cost is the cost of returning to normal operation speed after downtime
  • Equipment costs: Downtime sometimes necessitates hefty equipment repairs, or replacing affected equipment altogether
  • Lost revenue: Lost revenue is the amount your organization loses as a result of missed purchase orders, canceled contracts, and similar direct sales
  • Third-party costs: You may need to bring in outside specialists, consultants, or contractors to resolve your issue. Third-party costs may also include fines levied by regulatory agencies.

Lengthen equipment lifespan

Regular equipment maintenance helps you get the most value from your assets by extending their usefulness. Consistent equipment inspections help you pinpoint and fix minor issues before they become major ones, and thus prevent unnecessary equipment failures.

As stated above, the first step in making sure your equipment has a long lifespan is investing in quality equipment. But even quality equipment needs regular attention in order to continue performing at full efficiency.

Improve worker safety

Malfunctioning or broken equipment is often not safe to use. Dull blades, loose or erratic parts, broken controls, and more can all lead to accidentsin the workplace. In fact, one of the most common threats to workplace safety is equipment that doesn’t function properly.

Proactive equipment management alerts you to safety hazards and helps your employees avoid those hazards. Safe workers are healthier, happier, and more productive, which is why integrating maintenance into your routine is so important.

Man in yellow vest and white hard hat adjusting a piece of equipment

What types of equipment maintenance are there?

You have several options when it comes to the way you approach maintenance. The different maintenance strategies entail inspecting your machinery at different times and with slightly different goals. Successful managers will use a combination of each type of equipment maintenance.

Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance, also sometimes called corrective maintenance, is performed after an equipment failure. This form of maintenance can be especially expensive, since it implies you’re dealing with a large repair. By the same token, reactive maintenance is often more time-consuming than other types of maintenance

With that said, it might make sense as an approach depending on the value of asset you’re dealing with. Two common forms of reactive equipment repair are:

  • Emergency maintenance: This is a last-minute action you take to repair damaged machinery, which means it’s never something you plan in advance. Emergency maintenance is usually needed because equipment damage poses health risks to employees.
  • Breakdown maintenance: While emergency maintenance happens after unexpected damage, breakdown maintenance occurs when your equipment is completely broken. These equipment repairs are typically more expensive, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to recover your asset.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is consistently applied in order to remain aware of any issues that arise and hopefully keep you from experiencing machine downtime. This approach helps you avoid the high financial and productivity costs associated with a major equipment failure.

Preventive maintenance entails creating a schedule so that you can ensure consistent, proper equipment management. The two most common forms of preventive maintenance are:

    • Usage-based maintenance: Usage-based maintenance means inspecting equipment based on how often it is in use, to make sure it’s still functioning well
    • Routine maintenance: Routine maintenance isn’t based on particular use patterns, it’s just a general policy of performing inspections and/or repairs on a regular (usually monthly) basis

Predictive maintenance

Like preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance is intended to avoid equipment repairs by identifying issues before they develop. But instead of setting a regular schedule for maintenance and sticking to that, predictive maintenance identifies needed repairs by assessing the state of your equipment.

Tracking equipment condition is done with the help of technology like pressure gauges or temperature sensors. The use of automation makes predictive maintenance more expensive than preventive maintenance, so this approach makes more sense if your equipment is on the more valuable side.

What roles are there in equipment maintenance?

Just like there are a few different approaches to equipment repair and maintenance, there are a few different roles you and your employees could fulfill during the process. It’s a good idea to have at least one person acting in each role and not to create too much overlap.

Maintenance technician

The maintenance technician is the person who will be performing general upkeep and repairs. Technicians also perform routine inspections and test whether machinery is working. A maintenance technician may specialize in certain types of equipment, or may provide more general services.

Maintenance supervisor

A maintenance supervisor is the person overseeing and directing technicians. They are in charge of making sure maintenance is performed correctly, which means they also need knowledge of whatever equipment is being maintained.

The maintenance supervisor creates maintenance schedules, decides which tasks need to be included in the schedule, and is generally in charge of organizing preventive maintenance. It’s also the supervisor’s job to ensure that all health and safety requirements are being met.

Maintenance manager

At the highest level of the equipment maintenance chain, maintenance managers oversee supervisors. Where a maintenance supervisor is responsible for making sure day-to-day tasks go smoothly, the maintenance manager handles higher-level planning that addresses long-term business goals.

Two hands holding a silver metal part

How do you establish an equipment maintenance process?

Enjoying the benefits of equipment maintenance is easiest when you follow agreed-upon best practices for making the most of your time and resources. Your organization will be more productive as a result of clear guidelines.

Use equipment properly

The single best way to cut down on costly repairs and keep your equipment in order is to use it properly in the first place. Make sure all your employees know how to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for correct operation, and do your best not to overwork machinery.

Your employee training should focus on making sure employees internalize manufacturer recommendations and teach them to behave responsibly so as to avoid accidents.

Maintain inventory

Build and maintain an accurate inventory of your equipment so that it’s easy to track. When creating this inventory, include the maintenance history of each item so that technicians know what typically causes problems.

Clean and safe storage also helps extend equipment lifespan. Making sure everything has enough space means there’s less chance for dirt or debris to accumulate. Too much cluttering machinery can lead to overheating and prompt a premature equipment failure.

Keep equipment lubricated

Just like proper use, consistently lubricating machines with rotating parts is a crucial way of avoiding machine downtime as long as possible. Lubrication reduces friction and accumulated wear during operation, as well as helps protect surfaces from overheating.

Machine lubricants can either be synthetic or petroleum-based oils. Applying the right amount of these oils at the right time is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your equipment.

Conduct regular inspections

The value of maintenance is repetition. You need to evaluate your equipment consistently and comprehensively in order to maintain it properly. The best way to conduct these inspections, especially considering that different pieces of equipment have different needs and specifications, is to use an equipment maintenance checklist specific to the item you’re inspecting.

In general, you’re checking for:

      • Rust and contamination
      • Water and moisture in unexpected areas
      • Chips, cracks, or scratches
      • Unusual engine sounds
      • Excessive vibration or movement
      • Exposed wires

There is no shortage of software programs that can help you schedule maintenance inspections. When you use digital checklists to conduct inspections, they can be scheduled ahead of time and distributed to your technicians automatically.

Regular inspections are also important because inspection intervals will most likely be specified in the manufacturer’s manual. Deciding on a system for conducting maintenance helps you adhere to that.

Make repairs fast

Once you’ve found an issue, don’t delay repairs. Even small signs of wear and tear can become bigger problems when left alone for too long. Being able to repair equipment in time is much easier when you have an effective inventory management system in place.

Effective equipment maintenance is simple when you use a digital solution like Lumiform. With a pre-made template library, as well as the ability to create custom checklists, Lumiform enables your technicians to inspect any type of equipment. Simply assign checklists to relevant employees, and then you can track multiple maintenance schedules at once.

The mobile app’s intuitive UI allows inspectors to report any issues in seconds, so you can schedule repairs almost as quickly. And thanks to automatic weekly and monthly reports, you’ll be able to analyze your processes and continuously improve.

Black man in a welder's hat and blue clothes at a workbench

 
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