Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Management Features
Steven Ouellette
How to create integrated metrics and a realistic strategic plan across a business
Philippe Aghion
Delegating power improves sales and productivity, boosting a firm’s chance of survival
Michelle LaBrosse
Effective project management is essentially effective leadership
Chris Fox
Rediscovering the mother of all innovation—necessity
Drew Calvert
Should firms be required to disclose the negative social impacts of their suppliers?

More Features

Management News
Galileo’s Telescope describes how to measure success at the top of the organization, translate down to every level of supervision
Too often process enhancements occur in silos where there is little positive impact on the big picture
Latest installment of North American Manufacturing Covid-19 Survey Series shows 38% of surveyed companies are hiring
How to develop an effective strategic plan and make the best major decisions in the context of uncertainty and ambiguity
What continual improvement, change, and innovation are, and how they apply to performance improvement
Good quality is adding an average of 11 percent to organizations’ revenue growth
Further enhances change management capabilities
Awards to be presented March 24, 2020, at the Quest for Excellence Conference, in National Harbor, MD

More News

Talmage Wagstaff

Management

How to Boost Manufacturing Reliability With Preventive Maintenance

What’s good for the manufacturer is good for the customer

Published: Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 11:03

Preventive maintenance, specifically in production and manufacturing industries, has been a fundamental part of product consistency for years. It is well known that without product consistency, customer complaints and rework will soon be the result. What does preventive maintenance do to directly assist in product consistency? Well, a whole lot.

Manufacturers specifications

When manufacturers of a piece of equipment used in the manufacturing process sell their equipment, they include a manual that lists the specifications at which the machine must run to produce the optimum product. As the machine operates during the normal course of production, it begins to “walk out of spec,” or develop minute changes in the products that are further and further away from optimum products. This is inevitable when manufacturing a particular product, and it is usually undetectable to the naked eye.

However, as time goes on, the machine will walk farther and farther away from spec. The point of preventive maintenance is not just to prevent machine failure. It is also to fine-tune the machine back into the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. By performing preventive maintenance and keeping manufacturing equipment within the suggested specification range, a manufacturer is ensuring that the product will be consistent. Consistent product is necessary because customers don’t react well to products that aren’t reliable and differ from batch to batch.

Recalibration is a part of preventive maintenance

Many times, machines simply work themselves out of calibration. This is a part of operations that is often not thought about until product issues are reported. When a machine is allowed to run when out of calibration, there is no product consistency. For example, if a filler is out of calibration and is being used in the production process, the fills will be spotty across the board. One fill could be 6 oz, while the next fill could be 8.5 oz. Of course, the customer complaints that this could cause are plentiful.

By ensuring that machine calibration is written into your preventive maintenance program, you don’t allow the operation of a machine that is performing erratically. Machines that are fully calibrated behave as they were designed to behave, and that leads to manufacturing reliability.

A great reduction in downtime

Downtime. Just saying the word makes production managers cringe, and for good reason. Downtime, whether planned or due to an emergency, is costly and a foe to the timely manufacturing process. Preventive maintenance is a large part of the solution to unexpected downtime, and that has been noted across the manufacturing community.

Machines that operate poorly are the reason unexpected downtime happens in a high percentage of cases. If you don’t have the time to properly maintain a machine, it will make the time for you eventually. A machine can only operate so many hours on its original components, and like machines do, it will stop cooperating if it isn’t cared for. By performing preventive maintenance on the regular schedule recommended by the manufacturer, you keep your machines operating as they were intended, and you produce reliable products.

Scrap and rework at a minimum

In manufacturing and production, scrap and rework are costly wastes of resources. In addition, the time consumed by producing and reusing scrap and rework is time you cannot get back. When improperly maintained equipment causes scrap or rework products, management suddenly takes a hard look at the company’s preventive maintenance program. However, it shouldn’t take the production of three back-to-back scrap batches to prioritize preventive maintenance as an important part of workflow.

By keeping preventive maintenance on a regular schedule, we keep machines inside of the specifications and guidelines set forth by the manufacturer. This keeps the product spec inside the parameters unique to that manufacturer and keeps customers happy with the finished product.

Product variations and customer complaints

Customer complaints are a common occurrence in manufacturing and production. Even when a facility does everything correctly, mistakes are bound to be made, resulting in the occasional complaint. But when you have multiple complaints about a product that all stem from the same product quality, you need to investigate the product and its manufacturing process before you run that manufacturing line again. Producing a bad product simply for the sake of production is never good practice and should be avoided at all costs.

As a production and manufacturing facility operates, machinery ages and incurs wear and tear. With that comes changes in the operation of the machinery. Even a minute change in the way a machine runs can completely change the finished product. If the finished product isn’t inside of the product spec, it should never leave your facility. If it does, this is where product recalls and customer complaints become serious issues for a facility.

By ensuring that every finished product that leaves a manufacturing facility is within the set specification parameters, you are ensuring that your facility is reputable and reliable. Customers, fairly or unfairly, link product recalls to an unreliable manufacturer. By keeping every machine in your facility running at its best possible condition, you remove the guesswork from the process and help to ensure your facility makes only the top-notch product you set out to produce. It is easy to manufacture a sloppy and defective product, but to make the very best of the best, it takes machines that are running at their best. To keep a machine running at its best, you need a preventive maintenance program that is top-notch.

Preventive maintenance automation

By introducing a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) into your production or manufacturing facility, you remove the guesswork from preventive maintenance tasks. A CMMS not only keeps maintenance tasks organized and allows for in-depth reporting of your facility, it can also do tasks like allowing you to organize your owner’s manual library online instead of in a file drawer in the basement.

If your facility isn’t utilizing a CMMS at this point, it probably is time to look into setting your facility up for a trial program. It can help to vastly improve the preventive maintenance program you’re running, and the positive results will be visible almost immediately.

Discuss

About The Author

Talmage Wagstaff’s picture

Talmage Wagstaff

Talmage Wagstaff is Co-Founder and CEO of REDLIST. Raised in a construction environment, Talmage has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering. Talmage worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the Country.

Comments

Preventive Maintenance

Maintenance--including corrective, preventive and inspections--are indeed critical for any industry, particularly in the healthcare industry where medical equipment is essential for patient care as the COVID pandemic has shown.  Unfortunately, many medical device manufacturers are not willing to share maintenance information (manuals, software, etc.), provide training or selling replacement parts.  Even during the pandemic, some of them were unable or unwilling to send their field service team to the severely affected hospitals.  For more information related to our challenges, please visit this webpage:  https://repair.org/medical.