Proactive maintenance is a good idea for warehouses, distribution centers and facilities of all kinds. If you can prevent important assets from breaking down, that means avoiding the extended downtime and safety risks that can come with equipment failure. It's surprising, therefore, that so many companies are not participating in this highly logical and straightforward approach to improving a facility.
More than half of facility operators solve their equipment issues exclusively through reactive maintenance. These companies may be motivated by inertia, hesitant to change long-held practices. However, by staying with a maintenance approach that does not prioritize proactive attention to problems, they are perpetuating issues within their facilities, potentially increasing the risk of costly or dangerous machine failures.
It's not difficult to find ways in which proactive maintenance could improve the way your facility runs. Getting a strategy together is a relatively straightforward process which starts with identifying potential problems and creating a customized approach to keeping all assets functioning at peak capacity. The following are a few of the key points on the road to comprehensive proactive maintenance strategies.
Determine which assets in your facility need attention
The heavy equipment within a warehouse or other industrial building poses major risks in the case of a failure. When you begin working with maintenance experts to develop a proactive strategy, the process will involve inspecting the facility's assets and determining which should receive attention. These may include:
- Commercial doors: Doors both within facilities and connecting those buildings with the outside world are susceptible to wear and tear. A door failure could put employees at risk and bring operations to a standstill. Proactive maintenance can inspect all elements of doors, from tracks, motors and electronic controls to seals and the door panels themselves.
- Loading dock equipment: Loading docks are some of the most risk-prone areas of warehouses. Accidents involving installed assets such as lifts, gates and doors, as well as moving equipment such as forklifts, were responsible for 110,000 injuries in 2018. Proactive maintenance strategies that involve inspecting the integrity of equipment – and the use of safety precautions – can help bring that number down.
- Any automated or motorized assets: Ensuring that every element of motorized equipment is functioning correctly should be a top priority for facility operators. Control systems, motors and the assets themselves need frequent checks to ensure everything is operating within safe parameters.
- Environment control solutions: When companies need to maintain a particular temperature, such as a shipper creating an uninterrupted cold chain, every piece of related equipment deserves attention. From the seals on cold doors to the temperature control systems and air circulation fans, an unexpected failure of such an asset could damage a massive quantity of goods.
Your industry doubtless has its own essential assets and pieces of equipment alongside the more general systems used across sectors. To keep the supply chain running at peak efficiency, each of these must run to high standards over years. An intelligent approach to asset management will serve each of these categories of equipment and reflect your company's usage patterns.
Create an effective, customized proactive maintenance strategy
When companies work with expert partners to craft their proactive maintenance plans, they can not just improve uptime relative to only using condition-based maintenance, they can also boost their compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and get a more precise, accurate overall view of their equipment setups. Here are some of the elements that go into a great proactive maintenance relationship:
- Detailed information on facility assets: A customized proactive maintenance strategy is designed to maximize the return on investment provided by every piece of equipment involved. Equipped with these ROI calculations, facility owners know exactly when to replace an asset for maximum value.
- Fully trained service professionals: The personnel conducting inspections, making repairs and troubleshooting issues should have experience and training in the field. They should also carry the right tools for the job, to ensure that when there's a problem, it is resolved quickly.
- A focus on safety and compliance: A well-crafted proactive maintenance strategy is created to deal with possible problems beyond simple machine failures. When there is a problem that conflicts with OSHA's regulations – such as insufficient space to move in storage areas or a lack of employee training – that should be noted and remedied.
Between a commitment to condition monitoring and long-term strategic approach to maintenance, you and your expert partner organization can develop an approach that fits naturally into the way your business operates and keeps its most important assets functioning for longer, at greater levels of uptime.
Reap the benefits of safer, more reliable equipment
With a proactive maintenance plan in place, facility owners stand to improve their overall operations in several ways. The advantages of keeping each piece of equipment in working condition can come through in several ways, including:
- Maximized TCO for each asset: Maintaining assets proactively instead of waiting for a breakdown to perform maintenance can extend the life of the equipment and improve its relative value. The greater attention that comes with a fully featured proactive maintenance strategy allows leaders to see exactly how much more value they're extracting from their assets.
- Savings through reduced disruptions: A supply chain disruption can be costly for any organization – but if a key piece of loading dock equipment or storage infrastructure fails, this can be the result. Companies that plan their maintenance and don't wait for breakdowns don't have to lose out on potential revenue during interruptions.
- Improved ability to retain and recruit employees: The safety culture of a company may determine whether top prospects want to work for that organization. Therefore, a facility that embraces proactive maintenance is better equipped to hire and retain top performers than one with a history of machine failures.
There are no advantages associated with a lack of focus on heavy equipment. When assets are operated on a run-to-failure model, leaders have to simply hope they will not break down to keep productivity high. Rather than hoping, you can increase the chances of success with proactive maintenance.
Stop depending on reactive maintenance
When companies operate optimal maintenance strategies, only 20% of their repairs should be unplanned. The way to attain this level of performance is to coordinate with facility experts capable of delivering customized and effective plans that take your strategic goals and priorities into account, and represent the unique equipment setup present in your facilities.
A proactive maintenance maintenance strategy that is created with root causes of failure in mind for each piece of equipment can extend the life of those assets while also ensuring your workers don't have to contend with the wasted time and risk associated with breakdowns. A run-to-failure strategy that does not incorporate proactive elements is not more cost-effective, as a single machine failure can wipe out any budget saved by not setting up a long-term plan. If such a preventable breakdown also results in danger to workers, it goes from disruptive to potentially catastrophic.
When assets stay in operation, with fewer instances of unplanned downtime, every party benefits. Customer organizations counting on your business to quickly move goods through facilities – with no supply chain interruptions – will appreciate the improved reliability of your offerings. Employees will benefit from working in a safer and cleaner environment. Your bottom line can improve with equipment TCO tracked and maximized.
While there will inevitably be a few incidents that require reactive maintenance, you can improve your ability to react to these situations as well, using the same teams of trained and certified expert personnel, equipped with fully-stocked trucks to deal with machine failures and minimize the resulting downtime. The costs of downtime, from the overtime pay needed to fix them internally to the lost revenue of supply chain operations, should be minimized whenever and however possible.
Working with a partner such as Miner, with 50 years of experience keeping equipment in top condition, enables you to create such an optimized strategy. No matter what type of mechanical assets your particular facilities use, a customized proactive maintenance plan can keep them functioning at their best.
Request a quote now to learn how Miner can help your organization.