While some businesses rely solely on human capital, they are few and far between. Most require the use of the machinery of one type or another, even if it is just a company van. Plant and equipment, however, creates two major headaches for companies: depreciation and safety hazards. Machinery is necessarily hazardous, thanks to the fact that it has moving parts and comes into close contact with operators. Improperly maintained units could cause injury and even death. And the fact that it wears out can take a serious toll on a firm’s balance sheet. Thus, you always need a robust equipment maintenance plan for all the machinery in your company. 

Surprisingly, though, relatively few firms have a machinery maintenance plan. Instead, they operate a kind of “break-fix” model in which they allow their plant and equipment to wear out until the point it requires replacement, instead of actively staying on top of issues as they arise. 

In general, this is a bad idea. It means that firms ultimately wind up paying more to keep their capital items running. And that eventually leads to a loss of competitiveness.

Does your company have a equipment maintenance plan? If not, here’s what to do. 

Define Expectations

It’s hard to know whether changes are needed if you do not first set your expectations. Efficiency and productivity should both be covered in this aspect. If those issues are under control, you can be quite happy with the business operations.

The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) model is a particularly useful starting point. It will identify which aspect of availability, performance, or quality is falling short. In turn, you can make the equipment upgrades or tweaks needed to restore efficiency.

Crucially, it will help you avoid wasting time questioning whether your equipment performs at a suitable level or maintenance is needed.

Train Operators On How To Use Equipment Properly

When manufacturers create machinery, they often build products that require operators to use them in a specific way to maximise their productive life. You find this with everything from tractors to electricity generators. 

Workers, however, don’t always know how to operate machinery ahead of time, and will frequently make mistakes. And when they do, it can necessitate repairs sooner than otherwise. 

Most firms counteract this by instituting regular training, and putting up reminder posters, telling staff how they should interact with machines. Thinks like powering them down correctly or only using certain types of load can help with longevity., 

Conduct Regular Parts Reviews

Manufacturers also provide companies with schedules telling them which parts they will need to service and after how long. For instance, they may need to check air hose fittings on an Approved Hydraulics once per month to make sure that they maintain their seal. 

Regular parts reviews are critical for keeping equipment running for as long as possible. Following the manufacturer’s guidance can help to dramatically extend the life of the machines you depend on and keep them humming smoothly. 

Understand The Signs Of Wear And Tear

Interpreting signs of wear and tear can sometimes be a challenge. A piece of equipment might look perfectly healthy on the outside, but in terrible condition internally. Similarly, you could have a bit of old machinery that looks rusty and dirty on the outside but is still perfectly functional on the inside. 

The best way to approach this issue is to learn to detect signs of depreciation forensically. Often, a trained eye can recognise worn washers or bearings just from looking at them. 

Swapping these parts as soon as they start to degrade can prevent knock-on damage to machinery, keeping it in good working order for longer. Changing damaged bearings, for instance, can prevent a major breakdown that interruptions production. Swapping out old cartridge bearings for new ones often takes just a couple of minutes. 

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