Control and trends in maintenance


Maintenance involves cost, and the cost is quite high. Therefore there is a need for cost control. Control is facilitated by the following measures:

1. Maintenance work must commence only after it has been authorized by a responsible official.

2. Maintenance schedule must be prepared stipulating the timing of maintenance and number of staff required.

3. Materials such as bearings must be issued by the storekeeper against proper authorization from the maintenance department.

4. Maintenance budgets must be prepared and used to determine whether the actual expenses are within estimates.

5. Equipment records must be maintained. Information from the records will be useful when ordering parts or when seeking clarification from the equipment supplier.

6. Management should give serious thought to certain issues which have bearing on maintenance costs. The issues can be:

(i) Quantum of maintenance needed in terms of spares and labor
(ii) Size of maintenance crews needed
(iii) Can maintenance be sub-contracted?
(iv) Coverage of maintenance staff by wage incentive schemes
(v) Effective use of computers for analyzing and scheduling activities

Trends in Maintenance

Several trends are taking place in the maintenance field. Increasing attention is being paid to the design of building, facilities and processes to eliminate as much maintenance as possible. There is greater emphasis on manufacturing system reliability and procurement of equipment with a prescribed level of quality assurance. Maintenance engineers will be using statistical tools to pin-point problem areas, so as to justify the need for equipment replacement periodically. Maintenance staff needs to be upgraded to cope with the challenges of complex manufacturing systems.

Special training programs have sprung up to give maintenance workers, the skills necessary to service and repair today’s specialized equipment.

Sub-contracting service companies have developed to supply specialized maintenance services. Computers, automobiles, office machines and other products are increasingly serviced by outside sub-contracting companies.

Other technologies are developing that promise to reduce the cost of maintenance, while improving the performance of production machines. An example is the network of computerized temperature sensing probes connected to key bearings in a machine system. When bearings begin to fail, they overheat and vibrate, causing the sensing system to indicate that a failure is imminent. The massive damage to machine that can happen when bearings fail-snapped shafts, stripped gears, and so on-can thus be avoided.

Computers have entered the maintenance function in a big way. Five general areas in maintenance commonly use computer assistance today. They are:

A. Scheduling maintenance projects.
B. Maintenance cost reports by production department, cost category and other classifications;
C. Inventory status reports for maintenance parts and supplies;
D. Parts failure data and
E. Operations analysis studies which may include computer simulation, waiting lines and other analytical programs.

Information from these uses of computers can provide maintenance staff with necessary failure patterns, cost data and other details fundamental to the key maintenance decisions.

Computers, robots and high tech-machines cannot replace people in the maintenance function. One important trend is the involvement of production workers in repairing their own machines and performing preventive maintenance on their own machines.

Maintenance today in production management is more than simply maintaining the machines of production. Maintenance function is expected to sub-serve the overall objectives of the organization—-better customer services, higher return on investment, increased product quality and improved employee welfare.