A preventive maintenance plan is a structured approach to making sure that any equipment used in a business is functioning with the highest possible degree of efficiency. The goal is to minimize opportunities for the equipment to break down and adversely affect the productivity of the company. While a plan of this type will vary somewhat based on the nature of the business operation, there are a few basics that are likely to be part of any ongoing preventive maintenance strategy, such as regular testing, periodic adjustments, replacement of worn parts, and routine cleaning.
Testing as a basic of the preventive maintenance plan typically involves engaging the equipment in some type of short-term examination connected with each function the device regularly performs. It is not unusual for testing of this type to be conducted at the end of a workday or on a weekend. In manufacturing plants that operate around the clock, the testing may occur near the end of shift, making it possible to have no more than minimal impact on production figures. Often, running these periodic tests helps to identify potential issues that could over time cause the equipment to become inoperable, and provide the chance to address those issues now rather than later.
Along with the testing, a preventive maintenance plan will also include routine adjustments and replacement of worn components. Doing so helps to keep the equipment in compliance with production standards and avoid the potential for long periods of downtime. Trained personnel take the time to adjust anything from loose screws to gears that have worked slightly out of alignment. When and as necessary, worn components like gears, flywheels or other essential parts of the machine are replaced before they have the chance to create additional stress on other components and possibly cause a loss of quality or speed in the production of goods.
Just about every preventive maintenance plan will include cleaning equipment. For example, in a plant where different types of cloth is produced, spinning, weaving and twisting the raw materials will often leave a residue on the machinery. It is not unusual for air hoses to be used at least once per eight hour shift to clear this residue, minimizing the opportunity for the dusty remains to work into the components and cause some type of breakdown over time. Depending on manufacturer recommendations, each machine may be pulled out of production for a few hours for a more intense cleaning once or twice each month.
Creating and following a reasonable maintenance schedule is essential to the success of any preventive maintenance plan. Failure to do so can lead to costly delays that cause the company to fall behind in filling customer orders, while also paying employees who must wait while the machinery is being repaired. With a sound preventive maintenance plan, downtime is kept to a minimum, the quality of the products produced is not compromised, and the level of productivity helps to keep the bottom line within an acceptable range.