The efficiency of the production function solely depends on the functional reliability of the production facilities which are nothing but a package of land, building, plants and equipment, tools and plant services such as materials handling, power plant, gas and steam lines, water supply, fire fighting etc.
All these facilities are subject to wear and tear either simply by elapse of time or by the frequency of their use. For the maintenance of the functional reliability of all these facilities, plant maintenance is considered as an important services function of modern production management.
The basic objective of plant maintenance is to keep all the production facilities in a constant and smooth servicing condition. It is a service function and thus involves indirect costs of production activity.
Scope of plant maintenance:
The plant maintenance services spare a lopsided attention for the maintenance of machines and equipment due too their frequency of use and strategic position in the entire production function. A machine is nothing but a mechanism consisting of the services of sequential components, each performing its specific function which is a part of the whole mechanism; e.g. in a simple typewriting operation, when the typist strikes a key on the keyboard, it causes a mechanical action of the type to strike the ribbon which gives an impression on the paper arranged on the carriage. The type linkage returns to its original position and simultaneously the carriage moves one space to make the way for the next cycle.
Some parts of the machine are fixed while some are replaceable. Such mechanical devices and their parts need constant and continuous services like cleaning, lubricating, repairing, replacing etc. so that their operational efficiency can be maintained. It should be noted that the plant maintenance service is not confined only to the machines and equipment. Under the wide spectrum of the plant maintenance service, the maintenance of the ground, building, power plant, materials handling equipment, transport services, water supply, stream and gas pipelines, fire fighting facilities etc. also covered.
The frontiers of the plant maintenance service also extend to include the provision of maintenance equipment and the stocking up of the repair parts and maintenance materials. Thus, it is a broad and exhaustive function which covers the wide range of production facilities contributing to the production either directly or indirectly.
Importance of plant maintenance:
Plant maintenance is an important and inevitable service function of an efficient production system. It helps in maintaining and increasing the operational efficiency of plant facilities and thus contributes of the revenue by reducing the operating cost and increasing the quality and quantity of the production. As a service it involves the incurrence of certain costs.
The important components of this cost centre are employment of maintenance crew and other incidental administrative expenses, investments in maintenance equipment and stocking up of repair parts and maintenance materials. However, the absence of planned maintenance service proves costlier.