Equipment Maintenance Plan: a guide
Running any type of production facility requires the regular upkeep of all the equipment used in the process. Doing this properly, in a planned and methodical way, will help prevent a breakdown in critical equipment, and worst of all the closure of entire production lines or even of the whole facility – which would be costly in terms of cashflow as well as reputation.
This is why routine, preventive maintenance is a must for any production facility. But it is sometimes the case that regular checks are overlooked as more pressing areas of the core business demand attention. However, if these checks are overlooked for long periods of time, problems often follow such as production errors, work injuries, asset damage the inefficient deployment of staff.
In this guide we will lay out the importance of Equipment Maintenance Plans, what they are, why they are important and how to set them up and operate them effectively – so that your facility can keep running smoothly even in the most challenging times.
- What is an Equipment Maintenance Plan?
- Why is it important to have an EMP?
- How do I create an EMP from scratch?
- Who will be involved in creating the plan, implementing it and keeping it up to date?
- Goal setting
- Creating an inventory
- Creating preventive maintenance plans for every piece of equipment
- What preventive measures are required?
- What tools, equipment and parts are required?
- How much time and money will all this take?
What is an Equipment Maintenance Plan?
The EMP, as it is commonly called, is a document detailing every piece of equipment and machinery you have in your production facility. Nothing must be overlooked for an EMP to function smoothly and effectively. The plan itself is a very detailed document, often set out in tabular format, that describes every piece of equipment down to the finest details. Once this information has been established and logged, you need to assess the type of maintenance each piece of equipment needs, how frequently and by whom. It is also worth considering if you need to build up a store of essential spare parts – which is nearly always a cost effective plan. This is because, if the worst happens and a piece of equipment suddenly fails, the length and cost of any downtime will be greatly reduced. This will help you meet your targets and customer deadlines, helping to ensure you retain repeat customers and making it more likely you’ll be able to ask for testimonials and referrals.
Why is it important to have an EMP?
If you have ever worried about what would happen if even the smallest cog in your production wheel were to break or stop working, then you need an EMP. This likely means that every production facility owner or manager needs to establish an EMP and keep it regularly updated. In other words, even your EMP needs regular maintenance. To do this effectively, it is wise to appoint an individual with responsibility for keeping the EMP up to date. They should report to the maintenance manager on a regular basis and any changes that are needed should be recorded and implemented as quickly as possible. In this way you will be ensuring that you are doing everything you can to prevent equipment breakdown and any halt in production – which could have far reaching financial consequences and would require hands-on crisis communications with all customers and stakeholders. Remember, your business’s reputation is its greatest asset, so ensuring that your equipment is at all times fit for purpose should be a major priority.
How do I create an EMP from scratch?
This may seem like a daunting task, but once you get going it will follow a logical sequence and help you to fully understand, in great detail, every bit of machinery and equipment you use. You’ll know its function and its likelihood of breaking down or needing to be replaced with a spare part. You’ll know the level of expertise your maintenance people will need, how many maintenance staff you need on the pay roll and where to find external contractors as needed. You need to establish:
Who will be involved in creating the plan, implementing it and keeping it up to date?
This may include maintenance managers, your technical maintenance team, finance departments and senior management. It is best for one or two individuals in each department to ‘own’ the project, so the management team knows who is responsible for what, at all times. In this way, you’ll be able to make swift decisions and get them signed off quickly by management or your finance director.
To ensure the team you choose is fully invested in the project – the number of people will depend on the size of your facility – it is important to set goals at the outset. When it comes to EMPs, the goals will likely focus on the reduction of reactive maintenance costs or corrective maintenance costs by a chosen percentage; or by decreasing downtime by X per cent.
Creating an inventory
Once you’ve decided on your team it’s time to get started on a detailed inventory of all relevant equipment in your production process. This is by far the most time consuming part of setting up an EMP, but it is critical that it’s done well as this will ensure that every last bit of important kit is on the list for routine preventive maintenance.
The way you record and store the information is also vital. We recommend using spreadsheet software as you’ll be able to create thousands of rows and columns which should offer plenty of space to store large databases of text and data. You’ll need to input the make and model of every piece of equipment, as well as serial numbers, product specifications, asset identification numbers and location details.
Creating preventive maintenance plans for every piece of equipment
This is another lengthy but important task. Start by documenting the condition of the equipment as this can help prioritise its importance as part of your equipment maintenance plan. You’ll then need to get your specialist technicians to assess each part to decide when its next maintenance inspection is due and how frequently these inspections should be carried out. All this must be documented for easy future reference. If you physically tag each part, you may find it useful to use asset tracking software to digitally track your equipment.
What preventive measures are required?
This is a question you need to ask yourself at the same time you’re documenting the condition of your machinery. Take a note of the type of work needed to keep the equipment running smoothly and how long this work will take. You can estimate this according to prior corrective maintenance experiences or by referencing owner’s manuals and manufacturer recommendations, as well as documented industry standards. By recording this alongside the frequency of maintenance work, you should be able to plan ahead and schedule maintenance for times when you’re less busy of naturally non-operational, such as overnight perhaps. There may also be times when preventive maintenance can be done during run-time hours, and if this is the case it will less costly than getting the maintenance engineers in ‘out of hours’.
What tools, equipment and parts are required?
Make sure your Equipment Maintenance Plan includes a list of the specialist tools that are needed to repair every piece of equipment. Include this on your spreadsheet and ensure that either you acquire the tools or that your maintenance team, or contractors are furnished with the tools they need. You also need to consider the materials that will be required and ensure that either you have a store of these or that you know where to source them in time for planned maintenance procedures.
How much time and money will all this take?
An Equipment Maintenance Plan is essential for assessing the planning and budgeting information you need to run your production facility in the most efficient manner possible. When assessing each piece of equipment and the work needed to keep it running, you should be able to estimate the annualised hours for performing the task, for shut-down of the equipment and which personnel are needed part by part. By doing this it will be possible to work out the cost to perform these tasks in the most optimal manner.
Scheduling preventative maintenance is critical to company operations since these occur regularly and involve time, energy and staff resources to complete. In creating an EMP, it is important to make a list of high priority items as these will be the starting points.
EMPs take time to be created and it is best to schedule the highest priority maintenance before overloading staff with tasks that rank lower on priority. The initial preventive maintenance goals established will direct which assets should be prioritized.
For example, it is important to identify which equipment is most costly to a company regarding repairs, downtime and value to operations. In this way you will be able to run your production lines in the most efficient and cost-effective way, boosting your bottom line.