analyzer management and data acquisition system (AMADAS)

Successful maintenance program: The key elements

Currently, companies are losing a lot of profit due to unplanned downtime. A report from Aberdeen Group from 2017 indicates that there is a loss of 50 billion dollars annually only in the manufacturing industry. A lot of companies continue to struggle to benchmark maintenance performance and implement effective maintenance programs that enable measurable improvements. When a company has a successful maintenance program in place, the following benefits can be achieved:

  1. 1. Reduce downtime
  2. 2. Extend equipment life
  3. 3. Minimize repair time.

The same report concludes that best-in-class manufacturers, identified from the top 20 percent performance scores, have 90% Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). They also have an 11% maintenance cost reduction year over year, which gives them a maintenance performance target. How do these companies achieve success? Are you curious? Please read further.

This blog covers four key elements of a successful maintenance program:

  1. 1. Work order management
  2. 2. Empowering with technology
  3. 3. Gaining asset and maintenance intelligence
  4. 4. Transitioning from reactive to proactive maintenance


Current challenges and goals

With our +30 years of experience in these fields, we have heard a lot of challenges from maintenance departments. The most challenging can you find below.

These challenges have a lot of impact on the maintenance performed as well as overall business results. As mentioned earlier, this costs over 50 billion dollars due to unplanned downtime on an annual basis and this is only in the manufacturing industry. So there is still a lot of profit to be made here! The first step is identifying and prioritizing the key areas to be addressed.

1. Work order management – successful maintenance program

The heart of most maintenance programs is a work order system. The purpose of it is to handle maintenance activities from the request through execution, completion, and recordkeeping.

There are many factors influencing the methodology a company uses to manage work orders, such as the size of the operation, the number of technicians, etc. So there are three main approaches we see in the current industry:

  1. Paper-based systems
  2. Spreadsheets
  3. Asset Information System or Enterprise asset management (like Hint’s AML)

Using the paper-based approach can be adequate for small operations but it makes it difficult to search equipment and maintenance history. Paper-based work order management adds to labor inefficiency and does not align with the sustainability values or green initiatives of many companies.

Spreadsheets are the second most common methodology. This one can be difficult to maintain for midsized to large operations with many assets. Especially to make real-time accessibility is a challenge. Revision control of maintenance spreadsheets can also be a challenge depending on how the file is owned, shared, and updated. We see that this methodology is still used a lot by large oil and gas and petrochemical industries.

An Asset Information System or Enterprise Asset Management system is another way many companies manage their work orders. An Asset Information System or EAM is the most robust work order management solution and gives on-demand access to asset and maintenance history. A parts list and various documentation can also be linked or associated with assets and/or work orders, which can be helpful. A challenge can be that for technicians/engineers, who may be old school, the learning curve can be steep, and they often resist moving to an automated system.

One of these three methodologies is critical because all maintenance activities require a work order. Good work order management strategies streamline the maintenance process while delivering maximum organizational value.

The basic elements of work order management are shown below. The initial step is a maintenance request, after which work orders are assigned, and work is scheduled. After that, the maintenance work is completed, documented, and closed out.

Numerous considerations go into the maintenance work order management process, which can make it much more complex than the basic depiction above. Why is it important for companies to focus on the work order management process? The benefits of a strong work order management process can be seen in the picture below.

succesful maintenance program


2. Empowering in Technology – successful maintenance program

Technologies related to maintenance, such as AML, and Hint’s Information Management, can help companies to meet and exceed their maintenance performance goals.  Hint’s AML provides large companies with benefits like improvement of plant performance, minimizing downtime, reduction of operating costs, and improvement of asset intelligence.

Often DMUs and managers ask, what is the added value to purchasing such software systems?

AML is often considered the foundation of a strong work order management program. A huge benefit is a high return on investment when implemented properly. Another benefit is that, over time, the customer creates assets and maintenance management history.

The history data can be used to spot trends, establish metrics, schedule preventive maintenance activities, and speed time to repair. Additionally, it delivers many other benefits like extending equipment life, reducing downtime, and improving planning and productivity.

For example, if historical data indicates that certain equipment will fail when vibration reaches a certain level, alarming and initiating a work order before that event, unplanned downtime can be avoided. As a result, save significant money by avoiding repairing or replacing the equipment. This is a single, high-level example, but there are many others of the broad capabilities of IoT and how it can deliver value to maintenance programs.

Embracing new technologies empowers employees with better real-time and historical asset and maintenance intelligence resulting in improvement of labor efficiency, decision making, and overall maintenance performance.

3. Asset and maintenance information – successful maintenance program

Reliable and accurate data is vital to companies optimizing performance and making strong business decisions. One of the first challenges that organizations must overcome to build a better maintenance program is to start collecting relevant maintenance information.

When organizations want to take this step, they need to determine what asset and maintenance information is important. Asset and equipment history can provide valuable information during the maintenance and repair process.

Detailed information on previous work orders related to the equipment is very helpful in suggesting the problem before the maintenance work is even started. Data like a parts list, reference drawings, and documentation can be valuable to the maintenance process.

The next step is building a history of maintenance information. An effective way to do it is using Hint’s AML. The benefit of building this in AML is that it is available in the same system that handles work order management, enabling ease of accessibility.

When all the information is collected, all the data must be available to the people who need it. In many cases, it is a large group of many different users, from an offsite manager to a field technician.

The information’s value is increased when transformed into intelligence. This is done by evaluating the data for trends to anticipate problems, such as unplanned downtime.

Scheduling preventive maintenance is an action and an essential part of converting data into intelligence. Actionable data is fundamental to driving an effective maintenance program. Maintenance intelligence and corresponding analytics improve decision-making, enable metrics to be established, facilitate maintenance and asset performance measurement, and support predictive maintenance implementation.

4. Transitioning from reactive to proactive maintenance – a successful maintenance program

The last key element for an effective maintenance program involves transitioning from reactive to proactive maintenance. Reactive maintenance is when a piece of equipment breaks down and a technician goes there to fix it, ‘’fix it when it breaks’’.

Organizations that react when a problem occurs rather than acting before the issue see a high volume of unplanned downtime, shorter equipment lifespans, and higher maintenance costs. Many organizations want to build a more proactive maintenance program, but this can be challenging. There are several keys to the reactive-to-proactive transition. At the basic level, it cannot be done until an organization is collecting all the important data and intelligence. This is the reason why for example Hint’s AML is fundamental for maintaining performance. It is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to gather maintenance information.

Unplanned downtime events may not be eliminated, but shifting to a proactive approach where companies anticipate and act on issues before they occur can reduce unplanned downtime, increase labor scheduling efficiency, enhance equipment reliability, and of course lower maintenance costs.