Simplifying Maintenance for Better Asset Management
In the business world, there’s a concept called KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s also a favorite saying among manufacturing maintenance veterans because it illustrates a proven concept. When you focus on accomplishing a task in the simplest, most efficient way, you avoid overcomplicating it, which can invite room for error.
Deviation, variation, and error are the last things a manufacturer wants in a maintenance approach. Keeping it simple improves the efficiency and outcomes of a maintenance approach, no matter the specific task.
The simplest solution is often the best
When faced with a task, it’s best to think about it in terms of starting position and end result. How do you take what you have and turn it into what you need? The most direct path between two points is a straight line, and that’s exactly what maintenance needs to be. Define the problem. Identify the desired outcome. Assess the scope of work needed to bridge the two.
Overcomplicating maintenance is an easy mistake to make. Techs might try to be proactive and assess more than the problem at hand, or they might deviate from maintenance specifications in an attempt to deliver a superior result. While simple, these overcomplications can yield undesirable, unpredictable results.
Tips to simplify equipment maintenance
Simplifying equipment maintenance comes down to process. Defining the scope of a task and not deviating from it puts technicians in a position to produce consistent, repeatable results that meet the expectations of a maintenance program.
Some simple tips for keeping maintenance simple and predictable are:
- Define equipment standards and draft standard operating procedures for specific maintenance tasks.
- Stay abreast of manufacturer-suggested maintenance metrics and techniques.
- Maintain stringent documentation for life cycle maintenance and upkeep.
- Have techs focus specifically on the task at hand and annotate peripheral tasks.
- Use the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PCDA) framework for executing maintenance.
The chief objective in any simplified maintenance approach is maintaining visibility. Reducing the number of steps, deviations, open tasks, or variables present in a maintenance action makes it easier to focus on the current task and objective. Better focus means fewer mistakes and better visibility for understanding how best to service equipment.
Technology can help — or hinder
Simplified maintenance increasingly stems from technological assistance. Enterprise asset management (EAM) or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can filter out numerous variables to provide maintenance teams with a one-to-one approach for executing maintenance tasks. Technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), or augmented reality (AR), makes it even simpler to reduce the number of steps and may even help techs complete maintenance steps with increased focus and precision.
While technology can simplify maintenance, it can also complicate it. Don’t rely on technology to solve problems rooted in process or people. Instead, complement a focused, simplified maintenance strategy with technology for facilitating efficiency.
Keep it simple
At the end of the day, maintenance teams should continually remind themselves to keep it simple. Applying a KISS mindset to manufacturing maintenance is a surefire way to stay present when executing key tasks. When employees are focused on getting from point A to point B in a straight line, they won’t be thrown by any twists, turns, or curves. Staying simple means staying effective and efficient.