4 Lean Maintenance Concepts You’re Probably Not Executing Properly

Many manufacturers know they need to harness a leaner approach to maintenance. Unfortunately, they unknowingly sabotage their attempts before they can benefit from them. Problems of execution can bog down lean efforts — and even the best laid plans for leaner operations will fall short without proper foresight.

To design and execute a lean strategy that actually improves your maintenance operations, you need to avoid the pitfalls of poor execution. When approached properly, a lean process can be transformative — yielding better results, more predictable tasks, lower costs, and less waste, among other benefits. Unfortunately, every lean plan is subject to variability depending on how it’s designed and executed.

Potential issues

Dozens of issues could potentially derail a lean approach right from the get-go. Here are four of the biggest and most damaging, including what you can do to avoid them:

1. No evaluation before starting lean maintenance. If you don’t stop to evaluate your current maintenance position before you enact changes, how will you be able to tell if there’s been improvement? One of the core tenets of lean methodology is evaluation — specifically before you make any changes. Once you’ve identified an opportunity for leaner maintenance, make sure you get a clear, quantitative starting point.

2. Choosing the wrong project (not enough ROI). You can pour hundreds of man hours into a lean project, but if it’s not the right one, those hours are simply wasted. Make sure there’s a real precedent for the project you’re working on. For example, choose a project that represents an ongoing cost to your maintenance program, such as changing the way you inventory consumable parts or how you plan for total productive maintenance (TPM).

3. Not educating employees. If you start making changes without educating your employees, don’t expect your lean campaign to yield results. Everyone needs to be on the same page for a lean venture, which means a significant amount of upfront information about the project’s goals, execution, strategy, expectations, duties, roles, and more.

4. Not re-evaluating or benchmarking. Just like having information upfront for your endeavor is crucial, continuing to gather data and evaluate your efforts is a cornerstone of a lean approach — one that’s paramount above all else. Tracking your efforts is key in validating them. Have a system set up for gathering pertinent data and define your metrics for success. Don’t leave a successful program on autopilot, either! Keep tracking, evaluating, tweaking, and improving.

If you’re in a hurry to implement a good idea, you miss out on the important setup items that enable that idea to be successful. These four lean concepts — along with many others — represent important forethought in the lean process.

A quick lean implementation checklist

Even the best idea will fail if not approached properly and set up for maximum success. Here’s a basic lean checklist to keep in mind as you seek to make positive, quantifiable changes to your maintenance operations:

  • Gather your team and educate them on the goals and approach.
  • Choose a problem that has meaningful opportunity for improvement.
  • Benchmark existing data about the problem you hope to improve.
  • Plan changes that address the root of the problem.
  • Implement changes that deliver corrective action.
  • Track changes you’ve made to gauge improvement over time.
  • Review changes to see if they exhibit quantifiable improvement.
  • Review data/measure benefit to see if your theory holds up.
  • Analyze success or failure by reviewing cost savings.

The lean process starts with a good idea, backed by meticulous attention to detail and incremental improvement. Skip nothing as you seek to implement change and give your lean concept the opportunity it deserves to be successful.

Need some help streamlining your maintenance operations? You can always count on the professionals at Global Electronic Services. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!

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