There are many ways to ensure your equipment is well-maintained. Having qualified personnel, sticking to a rigid maintenance plan, and even adopting operator accountability are all good starts. But more important than any of these initiatives is keeping your staff well-educated. Here are three important steps you can take right now to initiate better execution of your maintenance goals.
1. Keep SOPs current and detailed
Consistency is key in ensuring proper, thorough execution of maintenance policies and plans. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the roadmap for success. Every manufacturer needs to keep SOPs front and center in its maintenance training programs to provide consistency. This allows workers to accomplish tasks in a uniform way, improving traceability, accountability, and reliability.
SOPs should be simple, yet encompassing. Each step should have clearly defined actions and goals, laid out in a way that makes them ultimately repeatable. Writing good SOPs needs to be a cornerstone of your process, and techs should contribute to and clarify SOP documents.
The most important part of keeping good SOPs is to look at them as living documents. As maintenance requirements change, technology evolves, and standards improve, so should your SOPs. Taking the time to review them semi-annually or annually is imperative.
2. Stay abreast of equipment care guidelines
Your equipment’s maintenance needs may not change from day to day, but they will change year-over-year for a variety of reasons.
- Manufacturers update their recommended maintenance plans according to field reports and failure analyses of machinery.
- Better consumable parts become available, increasing the uptime and operation of machinery.
- Manufacturers add new preventive maintenance tasks to the ongoing cycle of scheduled service for different aspects of machinery.
As these changes arise, manufacturers need to keep their staff abreast of changes. This may mean subscribing to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) emails to get machine-specific updates, or having a factory tech come to your facilities annually for retraining. However you stay informed, communicating these changes to your maintenance teams and updating your SOPs are critical tasks to ensure the highest level of care is administered to your machinery.
3. Invest in ongoing education and training
More than knowing when to perform maintenance and what tasks are necessary to keep your equipment running, knowing how to best service machinery is paramount. In the wake of Industry 4.0, having techs who understand modern tools and methods will put your factory on a better track to success in its maintenance approach. This means investing in ongoing education and training.
Many OEMs offer factory-level training programs, as well as courses and modules aimed at training field techs to an expert level. In addition, technical and trade schools also offer general courses designed to keep career maintenance professionals up to speed on modern practices. Together, this is a winning combination for your maintenance team. Practical training backed by theoretical understanding means better execution and results.
Take the steps for better maintenance
Education is the key to unlocking a higher caliber of maintenance within your facilities. To keep your staff attuned to the needs and expectations of a successful maintenance plan, make sure you’re following the three steps outlined here. With current SOPs, updated knowledge of maintenance expectations, and continued reinvestment in training, you’ll position your facilities for fewer unexpected issues, less downtime, and better machinery performance.