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Best practices for maintenance supervisors

By: Grant King, IndustrySearch Writer
07 October, 2015

Question: who has the biggest impact on the reliability of your manufacturing production? Is it the machine operators? Is it the workers feeding the line? Or is it the people upstairs running the computers? Actually, it's none of these.

The people with the biggest influence on your reliability are maintenance supervisors. Without them machines don't work and people don't either. Without maintenance supervisors your factory grinds to a halt.

So how do you make sure your maintenance supervisors have the tools they need to keep your business turning over? Here are some useful tips.

Get your priorities right

One of the hardest tasks facing maintenance supervisors is keeping on top of planned work and keeping everybody happy. Why? Because in and around that planned work there are demands for unplanned, emergency work, work that somehow has to also be done while staying on schedule.

This is a bit like suddenly telling a 1500 metre runner he has to run 500 metres further in the same time. So do a thorough equipment priority assessment with a team from all important departments – operations, maintenance, safety and quality control – to ascertain what really does take top priority and how unscheduled work can be factored in without compromising primary production targets.

Insist on precision

And that means precision maintenance. Insist on it, demand it. It you don't, it'll come back to bite you. A high percentage of manufacturing equipment failures are because factories don't use precision maintenance techniques.

Quite simply, machines maintained using precision maintenance techniques last longer and perform better. And that means precision alignment, precision balancing and precision torqueing. It also means using the right tools and parts for all maintenance processes.

Do everything with precision and your production will be precise as well.

Don't blame your tools

If you use inferior tools, expect inferior results and failures, it's that simple. Yes, torque wrenches are slower, but there'll be no good vibrations running through your factory when equipment starts shuddering and breaking down because bolts worked loose.

Your maintenance is only as good as your tools, so put the onus back on the machines by giving them no excuse but to perform.  

Don't go for the quick fix

It's the nature of business; if a machine breaks down, you want it up and running as soon as possible. Which basically means just fixing the problem, not taking the time to find out what caused the problem in the first place. Again, it's about precision maintenance, not papering over the cracks.

Fix the problem and the problem will return. Find the reason for the problem and it will go away. Maintenance supervisors need to instil a precision maintenance mentality in all maintenance staff and educate management as to why the quick fix is just a fast track to major failure.

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