Unplanned equipment downtime can be a nose-down nudge to your company’s bottom line.  Using a few critical maintenance practices and a collection of specialized monitoring equipment, you can reduce unexpected failures and maximize your equipment’s uptime and efficiency. Here are six additional tips for keeping your money machines well-oiled and running.

Move from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance

If your manufacturing plant follows the philosophy of reactive equipment maintenance, you’re losing valuable uptime. Reactive maintenance means that you wait until a piece of equipment has stopped working before performing any maintenance on it. This approach is sometimes called a “run to fail” maintenance strategy.

This maintenance strategy has the words “to fail” right in the name. It guarantees that your equipment will fail for an unknown reason at an inopportune time, often bringing your manufacturing plant to a standstill. You lose time trying to diagnose and solve a problem that routine maintenance could have prevented altogether.

A preventive maintenance strategy allows you to stay on top of your equipment. Replacing essential parts and making sure everything is in working order regularly can help you predict and avoid equipment failure. By maintaining equipment proactively, you can prevent any unnecessary unplanned downtime and plan your maintenance schedule to avoid bottlenecks.

Harness the power of SCADA systems

A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system can monitor all of your manufacturing plant’s systems securely and remotely and notify the appropriate technicians if there’s a problem. These sophisticated architectures collect data from your equipment and CMMS to take preventive and predictive maintenance to the next level.

In a failure or emergency, a SCADA system can send out custom alarm communications via email, phone, or text to get help there right away. Automated controls can adjust or turn off malfunctioning equipment in response to an alarm, helping you manage the situation even before support arrives.

Then, when the situation is under control, your SCADA system can generate comprehensive reports to help you determine what went wrong and when. This kind of information will help you predict when another similar failure might occur in the future. A SCADA system helps with all areas of your maintenance strategy, from preventive to predictive to reactive.

A comprehensive maintenance strategy that includes equipment monitoring, CMMS, and SCADA systems is your best defense against unplanned equipment downtime. If you’re trying to make your manufacturing business run more smoothly, consider working with SCADA experts like these to integrate all your most essential processes in one place.

Predict potential failures using monitoring technology

A basic preventative maintenance plan often requires nothing more than a checklist of scheduled maintenance tasks. Simply by performing a set of routine maintenance procedures, you can improve your equipment uptime dramatically. But you can take your preventative maintenance strategy one step further by implementing equipment monitoring technology.

By continuously monitoring metrics like the timing, temperature, pressure, etc., you can quickly detect when something is about to go wrong. If a machine suddenly starts to run hot, for example, you’ll realize that something needs inspection and maintenance.

Specialized monitoring equipment such as sensors and other tools can track these metrics and more, taking your maintenance strategy from preventive to predictive. By detecting changes in your equipment, you can catch minor problems before they snowball into big ones. Plus, you avoid doing many scheduled but unnecessary maintenance tasks.

Have maintenance inventory on hand

Parts break, wear out, and need replacement periodically. These facts of the manufacturing industry are unavoidable. Yet many plants don’t keep an inventory of even the most basic replacement parts on hand. Then when a belt snaps or a valve starts to leak, they have to locate, order, and wait for a new piece to arrive before fixing it.

You can avoid all this downtime by keeping an inventory of parts that will eventually need replacing. Yes, there is the possibility that the part will never fail or need replacing, and that stock will go to waste. Still, the cost of wasted inventory is nothing compared to days of downtime while waiting for new parts.

Replace obsolete equipment

Generally speaking, the older a piece of equipment is, the more often it fails or needs maintenance. Over time, older equipment tends to get upgraded with aftermarket improvements and fixes. You can undoubtedly improve the lifespan and efficiency of your equipment by upgrading it with more modern parts.

But eventually, those fixes will need to be fixed as well, and the upgrades themselves become obsolete. When you start to run into diminishing returns, it’s time to cut your losses and invest in new equipment. While the upfront expense may be hard to swallow, in the long run, replacing obsolete equipment will pay for itself in maintenance and downtime savings.

Use maintenance management software

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a suite of tools and software that combines equipment monitoring, scheduled maintenance, and work orders in one place. By integrating the different elements of your predictive and preventive maintenance strategies in one CMMS, you maximize their effectiveness.

These systems can track your scheduled maintenance plans and monitor your sensors if you’ve invested in more predictive tools. By collecting your equipment maintenance data in one place, a CMMS takes the guesswork out of your maintenance schedule. It can even generate reports on what maintenance has been done and when, making it easy for you to keep up-to-date by collecting your equipment maintenance data in one place.

A fully automated CMMS with predictive sensors can recognize a potential failure, generate a work order, and schedule and assign a maintenance technician to do the work, all on its own. Automated tools like CMMS take a lot of the administrative work out of your maintenance strategy, making it easier for you to stay on top of your equipment’s maintenance needs.

Final thoughts

While some unexpected equipment downtime is unavoidable in any manufacturing plant, an effective maintenance strategy can maximize your equipment uptime. By focusing more on preventive maintenance, you can minimize unplanned downtime and repairs.

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