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Are You Doing The Right Maintenance ?

Control Element

Effectively Managing your Maintenance Activities

Last month we talked about the need to get ready to improve our operation and maintenance organizations in the anticipation of the busy time when the demand picks up again. We've also introduced our maintenance excellence framework that can be used as a means to guide the needed improvement. In our downloadable article last month, following our explanation on the elements for maintenance excellence, we've briefly touched the maintenance strategy element as the foundation for maintenance excellence.

Following this, and for the next several issues, we will talk about the elements needed in getting your maintenance activities under control. As depicted in the maintenance excellence pyramid, there are 5 key elements that we must effectively manage in order to have good control of our maintenance activities. These elements are: Maintenance tactics, planning & scheduling, MRO materials management, performance management, and information management. We will start the discussions in this issue with Maintenance Tactics.


Maintenance Tactics ; Determining the work that you need to do

What is maintenance tactic, which is sometimes referred to as Asset Maintenance Strategy, is the policy we choose for our activities to maintain our assets. For example, for our assets:  


  • Do we decide to follow OEM recommendations blindly and change the component when they prescribe it no matter how expensive that component is? 

  • Or should we follow the maintenance regime of similar plant next door? 

  • OR should we decide to institute our own scheduled replacement regime for some critical components and leave the rest running to failure without any intervening maintenance activities? If so what is the right interval for the scheduled replacement? Is it optimal? 

  • Or should we set up an elaborate condition based maintenance (CBM) techniques? Which CBM technology is the most appropriate for our specific asset? Is it cost effective?

Most of us use combinations of the various techniques mentioned above for our assets. However, many of us are not aware of how these policies came about or evolved to become what they are now. As such, we are sometimes uncertain whether a maintenance task is really needed or merely wasted. In some cases, we somehow knew that our maintenance tasks and/or their intervals are just not right but lack the solid reasons or the analytical tools to modify them. 


So the question we need to be asking ourselves is: "Are we doing the right maintenance?" i.e. We are not under maintaining our assets. And we are also not over maintaining our assets. We are doing just the right level of maintenance. Easy as it may sounds, in practice, it requires a full-time commitment of the organization to get it right at the optimal level.

So, Are you doing the RIGHT maintenance? 

If you are experiencing reliability or availability problem and struggling to improve your condition and you feel as though you are always in fire fighting mode with regards to equipment breakdowns, or if your emergency work order is creeping above 5% of your total work order, or if your PM (Planned Maintenance) work compliance is decreasing, then chances are, you are probably under maintaining your asset. You can probably benefit by initiating maintenance tactics analyses using structured approach such as RCM.

If you have no apparent reliability problem and emergency work orders is kept under 3%, but if your proactive type work (including corrective work resulting from predictive maintenance) is greater than 80% of your total maintenance work, and you maintenance costs are considered high due to excessive MRO spares usage, then you are probably suffering from over maintaining your assets. In this case you can save money by rationalizing your maintenance tactics. 

So what's happened if you are incurring excessive maintenance costs, but at the same time you are also experiencing difficulties in maintaining the reliability of your assets? Well, this is the worst situation as it probably means that you are doing the wrong maintenance. 

Remember, there is no point in doing maintenance work correctly and efficiently if it is not the correct maintenance work. 

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