How to Overcome the Biggest Maintenance Challenges in Manufacturing Industry
Maintenance work in the manufacturing industry is always a big challenge. Every business has a different set of needs, depending on the context of the manufacturing process. Resource shortages and increasing workloads are one thing, but the constant pressure is always there too.
There are many ways to overcome the biggest maintenance challenges in manufacturing. With technology evolving and several maintenance processes like predictive maintenance becoming much better over time, here are x ways to overcome maintenance challenges.
Challenge #1: Increasing Operational Efficiency
One of the biggest challenges of modern maintenance teams in manufacturing is increasing their operational efficiency and cutting on downtime. Inaccurate weather forecasts, delays in production, and even unexpected issues from human errors can be a big problem.
Maintenance management teams need to balance several factors, including predictive, corrective, preventive, and even replacement actions. This will allow the management to maximize asset productivity over mid to long-term periods at an optimized cost.
To resolve these issues, companies need to equip their maintenance managers with a deep knowledge of the equipment and facilities they care for. The knowledge should include asset specifications, OEM recommendations, manuals, and even guarantees. These should help create effective maintenance strategies over time.
Challenge #2: Lack of Standard Procedures
Maintenance procedures are a vital part of the manufacturing industry, and they are part of a routine. However, the issue with most plants is the lack of standards within this area. Sure, some standards help decrease plastic consumption in businesses, but there are rarely any maintenance standards, if at all.
Lack of standard procedures, together with variability in maintenance needs for each equipment, can make teams lose time. Standard operating procedures (SOP) need to codify all maintenance procedures and define everything, answering the “what, who, when, and hows” of the entire process.
Companies would need to use SOP to eliminate the vagueness of the entire maintenance process. Standards can also ensure that everything is replicable for other teams for quick and easy work, rather than figuring everything themselves.
Challenge #3: Operational Costs
Many maintenance managers look towards controlling the costs of their entire operation. Companies usually put a maximum of around 5 to 10% of their total budget towards maintenance. Depending on the size of the company, this can be a paltry sum that won’t afford the company the maintenance they need.
This results in poor maintenance for the company, with only enough to perform reactive maintenance to keep their assets online. Sure, there is manufacturing equipment that only needs reactive maintenance but heavy equipment would need preventive maintenance to work.
Keeping your maintenance budget under control is possible by streamlining your maintenance tasks. By simplifying the entire process and removing any unnecessary tasks, you can keep the costs down. Streamlining differs for each company, but you want a process that only takes fewer than half a dozen steps at most.
Challenge #4: Cross-Functional Teamwork
It takes teamwork to effectively manage a team and help them run like clockwork every time. It’s hard to coordinate a group, especially those with embedded functional categories and their own culture within the manufacturing plant.
Business owners will likely see a problem combining teams with shared responsibilities in keeping the company’s assets in working order. It’s even likely that teams don’t communicate with each other beyond the cursory exchanges they have to do at work.
It’s important to foster teamwork and camaraderie across functional categories to improve maintenance procedures. As maintenance relies a lot on information exchange across different teams, the company must build rally points to reduce operational expenditures and institute new lines of communication.
Challenge #5: Lack of Training
Maintenance challenges stem from a team that is not ready to “answer the call.” If you have a small maintenance team, it can be hard to have a portion of the team do training while others take extra responsibilities that may even be beyond their skill level.
Regardless, companies would want to take on the slight delay in maintenance to help their teams gain extra training. Additional training can help deal with disruptive infrastructure issues and limit unforeseen circumstances within the team.
The Bottom Line
It’s almost impossible for companies to plan for all maintenance challenges. Then again, it’s crucial for companies to control areas they are having difficulties with and create preventive maintenance plans that will help prolong the life of their assets. This saves time and money that is critical in any manufacturing business.