Unless you’ve been on a retreat deep in the jungle you will have heard about the recent C02shortage which almost bought the food and drink to industry, amongst others, to a standstill.

The cause? Several key factories shut down for both planned and unexpected maintenance at the same time.

Maintenance is a crucial task to undertake in any business with machinery. Whether it’s maintaining fridges and freezers, printers or specialised equipment, it’s something that needs to be carefully planned and prepared for.

At its most basic level, careful planning of maintenance helps avoid unnecessary delays. If you know what you need to do, how you’re going to do it and what parts and resources you’re going to need, you can get everything organised before you begin.

Unexpected equipment failure had a part to play in the recent C02shortage. But again, this is where planning ahead and scheduling maintenance works proves itself so crucial. If machinery is properly maintained, you maximise its lifetime and minimise the risk of an unexpected issue.

We’ve previously shared our 7 reasons why preventative maintenance (PM) matters. But here are some tips on how to make sure any maintenance work that is undertaken runs smoothly.

1. Get organised: create a maintenance schedule

There are plenty of tools and checklists online to help with the planning and scheduling maintenance work. Having a well thought out plan will increase productivity and the efficiency of your maintenance work.

Within your PM schedule, record any spare parts and tools you may need, as well as the labour that will be required. Consider if you have the staff with the necessary skills to complete the work or if you will need to hire in extra labour.

Set out a time frame for the work to be completed in. Don’t forget to build contingency time into the schedule. Figure out how long a task would take in the best conditions and what the worst-case scenario could be too. Allowing a time somewhere between the two is a good rule of thumb. This will allow for any unexpected delays in the schedule should a problem arise.

Being as organised as possible before the work starts will ensure the smooth running of maintenance work. You shouldn’tthen be left with too many surprises.

2. Communicate internally and externally

Communication is a vital in order to succeed, it’s great teamwork that makes PM run smoothly. Talk to the production team and schedule tasks for when machine downtime will have least impact on overall productivity. The production team can also be prepared for the maintenance by ensuring that the equipment is cleaned and prepared appropriately.

You know which spare parts you need. Make sure they’re accessible by speaking to your supply/warehouse team. Don’t leave everything to the last minute – a part that you can’t get your hands on can render maintenance pointless.

A big lesson learned from the CO2 crisis: if there is going to be any significant plant downtime as part of your maintenance work, communicate this more widely to your supply chain, and potentially alternative suppliers, to make sure they can put plans in place to cover the disruption in supply.

3. Analyse the completed work

Maintenance shouldn’t stop when the work has been completed. Work performed should be analysed to see if any changes or improvements need to be made. This will help ensure the smooth and efficient running of the task the next time round.

  • Could you reduce the time taken to carry out the task?
  • Did you have all the correct materials you needed?
  • Could you reduce the quantity of materials needed?
  • Could you better manage labour requirements?
  • Are there any third parties who would be better placed to meet your requirements?
  • Can you use any discoveries to better predict when the equipment will need replacing?

Taking the time to answer these questions can help you build better long-term plans and forecast required budgets.

We provide maintenance training to help your business stay on top of a range of maintenance tasks. If you don’t have the ability to carry out your maintenance requirements in-house, we can help you there too. Get in touch if you would like more information on our training opportunities or find out about our full services.