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Systems Upkeep Delivers ROI

proactive maintenance

Implementing a preventive maintenance program improves efficiency, while reducing downtime.

An effective proactive- maintenance program should address noted items:

• Employee skill sets/ training
• Site housekeeping
• Engineering training
• Documentation review
• 
Task-based risk assessment
• 
Sources for external support
• 
Local contractors
• 
Equipment manufacturers contact information
• 
Comprehensive PM equipment schedule
• 
Operational cost metrics
• 
Event tracking of trends and costs
• 
Site operations contingency planning

Core to any laundry, regardless of size, is proactive maintenance (PM). The chief engineer defines the strategic business plan for sustained operations, including a budget and resource schedule to support known equipment-service requirements. Plant engineers oversee the execution of a tactical plan, working closely with production managers to minimize equipment downtime, while supporting the defined PM schedule. Production man- agers communicate with the engineering team when equipment is not operating up to a plan standard or is offline and in need of repair. Unfortunately, even the best-maintained equipment at some time will present an issue. Some issues can be resolved internally with staff and parts stored on-site. Others may require calling outside resources to aid with problem resolution. Part of the chief engineer’s role is to have a contingency plan with contacts in place for sustaining site operations at times when these events occur.

Equipment 'Wellness' Programs

The evolution of a good PM program takes time to develop the proper inputs and planning tools. A computer-based software solution that captures all in- formation and automates as much of the work order management PM process should be used. This is a living and evolving process as the needs of each site may not be the same. Owners must em- brace the merits of maintenance and the return on investment that a good program provides…you can pay now, or you can pay later!

Equipment manufacturers provide an “Original Equipment Manufacturers’” (OEM) manual that provides a break- down of maintenance points and the frequency when they should be addressed with every machine. This information should be used when developing a site-specific PM program. If unsure about the manufacturer’s equipment PM plan, contact the equipment manufacturer for clarification and guidelines for servicing equipment. Typically, maintenance tasks are broken down as daily, weekly or monthly; and some manufacturers might include hours of operation service intervals. It is recommended that site engineers keep an on-hand inventory of key replacement components to sup- port quick response and minimize risks for potential downtime. If unsure about what items to have on-site, most manufacturers offer a recommended list of spare parts that should be kept on hand. The most significant improvements to machinery to help with equipment PM and general operation over the last few years are control systems and machine displays. All OEMs have migrated to some variation of a touch-screen controller for their equipment. The screens for controls and displays vary among manufacturers. Control platforms can be PC/Windows or PLC based, making it an easy and familiar platform for operators to use. All systems commonly offer a detailed level of equipment diagnostics presented in a format that’s easy to read and not coded with acronyms. Additionally, many will offer wellness and service-support contracts that can help augment your captive maintenance force in the completion of critical PM and maintenance tasks.

EXTENDED MACHINE LIFE AND MINIMIZED EQUIPMENT DOWNTIME ARE TWO OF THE MANY BENEFITS OF A WELLNESS PROGRAM

Extended machine life and minimized equipment downtime are two of the many benefits of a wellness program, along with the ability to diagnose and properly plan a proactive maintenance event that will address any potential equipment issues in a controlled fashion. These events also provide the operator with an opportunity to refresh the skills of their teams and ensure that system software updates are kept current. Wellness programs can ensure that small issues get resolved before they become significant!

Operator Training

While wellness programs, proactive maintenance programs and service schools help keep products running smoothly, customer training is what forms the foundation of service. At start- up, customer training helps equipment operators, maintenance staff, engineers, first-line supervisors and management establish a baseline understanding of equipment functions and primary points of operation. Machine, software and control functions are explained in detail during the initial training.

Quality training sessions establish an understanding of equipment operations, sequences and overall productivity as the customer-manufacturer relationship develops to maturity. Subsequent training sessions can be established to review previous instructions and to introduce additional information.

Regardless of the frequency and depth of the chosen wellness plan and customer-service program, the message is clear when it comes to maintaining your investment in equipment—be proactive. After all, the cost of regular maintenance and training is much lower than paying for unexpected, inconvenient emergency repairs and downtime.

Sandro Bortoloni is the manager of field service operations for G.A. Braun Inc., Syracuse, NY. Contact him at sbortoloni@gabraun.comor call 800.432.7286.

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