Achieving Planned Maintenance – Starting with the Basics

It’s fairly well documented by now that moving from Reactive to Planned (or Preventative) Maintenance practices can save an average of 30 – 50 percent on maintenance costs for those of you in asset-intensive industries.

At APS, we suggest being a little more conservative and targeting a return of 20 percent. This means rather than removing roles, individuals can be redeployed, or effort placed on different tasks to improve quality standards.

Regardless, the savings are significant. Not only do you save on maintenance costs, but planned maintenance strategies contribute to large bottom-line gains in business performance, too via:

  • Improved cost management
  • Increased throughput capacity
  • Reduced risk to the safety of crew or the reputation of the business
  • +More.

But How to Get Started on a Continuous Improvement Project toward Planned Maintenance?

Achieving asset management improvement is a complex task due to the number of different groups and diversity of activities involved.

In my experience however, almost every operation is sure to have healthy asset management performance if there’s a strong foundation of:

  1. Process standardisation (maintenance practices and systems)
  2. Solid documentation (of programmes)
  3. Clarity around roles and accountability (organisational design, monitoring and control)
  4. Optimised Systems (aligned to deliver on business requirements)

Here’s some tips on how to get started on your improvement, and savings.

Tip 1: It’s Best to Start with the Basics

Indeed, a study of 3,500 facilities conducted by A.T. Kearney (“Best of the Best” study, Kearney) concluded that the best approach is to simply do the basics very well. The study identified the basics as:

  • Effective supervision and leadership
  • Appropriate maintenance skills
  • Preventive maintenance programmes in place
  • Capability to plan and schedule Work
  • Effective inventory control

Really, this can be summarised as a state of “planned maintenance”, where the focus is on standardisation. That being: standardised maintenance practices, standardised systems and standardised monitoring and control.

This diagram depicts a roadmap to “world class” maintenance. It demonstrates how a focus on the basics – to establish a state of “planned maintenance” is a robust foundation f­­­or future improvement.

A Roadmap To World-Class Maintenance

Planned Maintenance Practices – Implementing the Basics

Tip 1: Standardise work management practices.

How Standardised Work Management Improves Asset Management Performance: Standardised processes will help to make work more predictable for employees. Similarly, the results of effort will become more consistent. As such, planning and scheduling and inventory control will improve, and you’ll start to see positive maintenance results.

Your business processes should be documented and well understood amongst teams. Standardised, documented business processes will improve efficiency and productivity as well as:

  • Improve cohesion amongst teams
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Transfer of business knowledge
  • Consistent technology integration
  • Manage teams to a standard

By starting with your process as a baseline, accountabilities and roles can be mapped accordingly. This will ensure your operation has team members that can fulfil each function in line with quality standards. Similarly, business systems can be reviewed for functional capability and alignment with processes.  This is how you can start to build your asset management improvement from a healthy foundation.

Tip 2: Monitor via People, Systems or Process

Monitoring is important to ensure your standardised work management processes and quality standards are sustained. 

How Monitoring Improves Asset Management Performance: Effective monitoring measures will eliminate or prevent informal and inconsistent processes (and results) from creeping into your team’s work.

Quality standards and governance of procedures can be achieved with supervision, quality checks automated by exception-based reports, or written service level agreements between each section and customers.

Tip 3: Provide Clarity Around Roles & Accountability

I strongly recommend Asset Management Awareness Training for leadership positions.

How Asset Management Awareness Training Works to improve Performance: It raises the profile of this process beyond the maintenance function. It’s important that Asset Management is understood across the organisational functions to achieve, among other things:

  • Alignment between the organisation’s overall strategy and its translation into lower-level practical plans
  • Mapping of production demand requirements in light of impacts upon PM tactics, costs, and throughput on asset life expectancy
  • Greater alignment and cooperation between all the organisational functions that contribute to Asset Performance, including engineering, operations, maintenance, finance and supply
  • Formal consideration of, and improved optimisation of short-term and longer-term decisions relating to physical assets in light of what’s considered acceptable risk, cost, or priority for the business
  • Clearly articulated and displayed performance management

Tip 4: Integration & Organisational Design

How Integration and Organisational Design Works to Improve Asset Management Results: It’s important for individuals to understand how their role contributes to wider goals and organisational strategy.

I recommend a structure that defines separate but mutually supportive functions of the reliability and maintenance organisation. These are:

  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Maintenance Execution
  • Reliability Engineering

This will ensure alignment between reliability and maintenance functions across any number of sites.

The integration of roles through shared resources will also assist in generating cohesion amongst functional groups, in addition to satisfying your governance requirements.  In most cases, ideally, you have the following functions centralised:

  • Planning or Reliability and Planning
  • Shared capacity planning capability across common assets
  • Shared shutdown planning resources (if required)

Meetings and formal handover acceptance policies will also improve communication between departments. The following meeting are recommended for most scenarios:

  • Planning & Scheduling Review
  • Schedule acceptance / Handover meetings
  • Performance Monitoring and Controlling
  • Budget control.

These are what’s recommended at a minimum. The regularity of these meetings will depend on the scale and complexity of your operation.

This provides you an idea on how to get a solid foundation on the basics of asset management improvement underway. In my next blog, we’ll look at how reliability objectives and condition-based monitoring, analytics and planning and scheduling come together to take your operation to the next phase of maturity.

If you have any questions about how you can implement improvements at your site, get in touch.


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