Maintenance binder in the office

Contributed by Servi-Tek Facility Solutions

The old saying “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, doesn’t apply to equipment maintenance in a commercial setting. But then, why would you pay for equipment service if there isn’t anything wrong with it?

The following are six critical reasons why this activity is important, and how it can benefit you and your business.

1. Reduce Expenses

In a manufacturing environment, a problem with a machine that goes undetected may result in creating flawed products. The results of the output may be components or products that fail to meet specifications and must be scrapped.

What if a broken machine piece goes undetected for many days or weeks? 

The manufacturer may have a significant amount of inventory or materials that are unable to be sold. This can create a “domino effect” when the flawed output is a necessary part while assembling another product.

Aside from lost productivity, the machine operator responsible for the equipment may need to stay after-hours to work. This could push the worker’s weekly hours into overtime, meaning the employer is paying extra wages for that time as well.

Improper maintenance practices could lead to ineligibility for warranty claims coverage from the supplier of a capital asset. 

If a machine within the warranty period was not properly maintained and now needs a major repair, the supplier usually requests proper documentation showing the maintenance history.

This not only illustrates a potential costly result of not adhering to maintenance procedures. It further shows the importance of clearly maintaining written documentation to support a potential warranty claim. 

Overall, those with costly capital assets are always encouraged to make the effort needed to protect these investments.

2. Reduce The Risk Of Accidents

Several reports issued by the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics explained how unexpected equipment failures create accidents. 

Researchers determined that roughly 35 percent of the workplace incidents were related to failures of the equipment used in production.

The construction industry is a sector occupying a leading position in the total number of fatal workplace accidents. 

In this field, many of the fatalities are linked to equipment failures, particularly those where maintenance practices were inconsistent. Accidents and injuries that result from poor equipment maintenance have been shown to persist despite having excellent safety training for workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is among the leading regulatory agencies involved in overall workplace accident prevention. 

OHSA has determined that a strong correlation exists between poor maintenance standards and workplace injuries and fatalities. For this reason, equipment maintenance should be among the topics addressed in proper training for occupational safety practices.

Keep in mind, an active preventative maintenance program will never stop all unexpected problems, but failing to perform timely service invites only troubles.

Workplace injuries and accidents are not only tragic and harmful to workplace morale but are also potentially very expensive. Accident injuries and fatalities in occupational environments may create sharp increases in the rates you pay for worker’s compensation coverage. 

Also, these accidents create opportunities for potential costly civil litigation in personal injury actions.

Maintenance failures involving occupational equipment have shown to be a risk to worker safety across dozens of other industries. 

3. Reduce Breakdowns

When proper maintenance is not completed on assets such as machinery or tools, the result is increased failure rates. Workplaces that fail to properly service their equipment can expect to see a sharp rise in the number of breakdowns. 

Often, by ignoring small or relatively minor maintenance tasks on a piece of equipment, you will only create larger problems. Here, the short-term savings earned by neglecting maintenance result in major financial calamities later. 

Another thing to consider is that a major repair to a piece of equipment will require locating and obtaining a replacement part in a short time. The shipping costs and managing the entire operations equal more time and money wasted.

Equipment breakdowns resulting from inadequate maintenance practices demonstrate the importance of proper preventative maintenance. 

Preventative maintenance is a term for describing the concept of adopting proactive maintenance and service practices. 

Preventive contrasts with reactive maintenance, the latter causing an abrupt stoppage (downtime) and unexpected work for technicians to make repairs.

4. Make Equipment Last Longer

Machines contain a variety of different parts that sustain wear and tear over time including gaskets, bearings, and seals. These components require a proper inspection to assess their condition and replacement as necessary. Based on manufacturer recommendations, the specialists will perform service functions, which sometimes are based on the number of hours in operation.

Some types of capital assets purchased by the organization will eventually be upgraded in line with the latest technology. 

The existing piece of equipment could be sold to another aftermarket user. The value of the asset for resale may reflect the quality of the maintenance performed and records documenting this activity.

One aspect of maintenance that is commonly overlooked or ignored is regularly cleaning the equipment. In many industrial work environments, these costly assets are exposed to soot, dust, and dirt. These airborne particles can adhere to moving parts and contaminate oils or lubricants and alter their viscosity.

Particles of dirt and dust may become logged in filters, adhere to fans, and restrict airflow through vents. The result of neglect is that the equipment may be exposed to excessive heat. This is one factor that contributes to premature equipment failure, that could be prevented during the maintenance process.

Costly capital equipment has a life cycle that can loosely be classified into three phases as new, middle-life, and end-of-life. 

During the first phase, the organization makes a large investment and the equipment is expected to perform at peak efficiency. Problems that surface during the early period are typically the result of errors during installation or defective components.

During the middle phase, the equipment is expected to operate effectively and return some value for the organization’s investment. Proper maintenance is critical during this second phase to recover the initial cost of purchase. 

Equipment performance in the final stage of life is largely based on the prior quality or lack of maintenance.

5. Increase Efficiency

During the first phase of a piece of equipment’s useful life, it will likely operate at optimal efficiency. To truly measure overall value, an asset’s level of efficiency is a critical factor. It is important to first define what efficiency is and how it is calculated.

Efficiency is a measure of how effectively a piece of equipment is operating compared to the critical costs. These costs include the amount of energy consumed and the time and money necessary for operation. In measuring energy efficiency, the value is compared proportionally to the energy and resources used.

As mentioned earlier, aging equipment and negative environmental factors generally combine to decrease the efficiency of operation. The piece of equipment may be using increasing levels of fuel, electricity, and other utilities and resources each day. 

During the final phase of useful operating life, a poorly maintained piece of equipment will generally be very costly. This is the result of marginal production or output, increased consumption of energy, and rising maintenance costs. 

In this case, major repairs and component replacements are likely and good managers recognize the significantly diminished value in its continued operation.

6. Improve Working Conditions For Employees

An overall correlation exists between an organization’s commitment to workplace maintenance and employee job performance and satisfaction. Not surprisingly, working each day in a disorganized, cluttered, or otherwise poorly-maintained setting is not good for morale. Employees operating in an environment clean, safe, and well-maintained are better positioned for occupational success.

Working with equipment that is routinely inoperable is both discouraging for employees and reflects poorly on the organization’s quality standards. Good equipment maintenance practices are centered on consistently and diligently doing the small things to achieve long-term success and value. 

How can workers be expected to perform at a consistently high level within an organization operating to the contrary?

Many employees working in roles such as service and production have their performance evaluations based on efficiency and output. 

In many cases, their performance level is dependent on having the tools and equipment needed. When maintenance is not prioritized, this will often create resentment because equipment performance is closely tied to achieving goals.

Organizations that fail to adopt proper standards and practices related to maintenance will eventually fail to deliver quality. 

The same applies to a commercial provider of services, as low-quality work is inevitable when performed using poorly maintained tools. Employees prefer to take pride in the quality of the products or services that the organization creates or performs. 

Maintenance failures often result in adverse economic consequences including stagnant wages, mediocre benefits, and other problems.

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