How do you manage and perform maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic?
We are all living through a time of rapid change as the global pandemic seemingly impacts every sector. Most of us have been affected by plunging fuel prices, new social distancing recommendations, government-imposed lockdowns, or a combination of all three.
Some of these changes are no doubt temporary, while others may be permanent. Which changes fall into which category remains to be seen.
Many countries have issued restrictions that allow only essential businesses to remain open, and only essential personnel allowed to go to work. Regardless of your sector, the maintenance profession is typically considered essential. Equipment must still receive maintenance, often even if the production it supports has been temporarily halted or diminished.
We want to know what you think about the current pandemic, how it’s impacting your organization, and how (or if!) it’s caused you to change or review your maintenance processes.
Please click here to participate in our short survey on the impacts and opportunities facing maintenance organizations today and watch for the results in the near future. All answers to this survey are completely anonymous.
The food and beverage sector has conditions like no other. The industry is highly regulated because its products are for human consumption. Any deviation from strict control can lead to contaminated products with the possibility of outbreaks, illnesses, and lawsuits.
We are in a time of rapid change due to the global pandemic. As a result, society is relying heavily on the food and beverage industry to continue production in support of communities around the world. This is just one industry of many overcoming new challenges to continue to maintain some semblance of the status quo…even with so many other regulations already at play.
Food and beverage manufacturers are challenged with delivering quality products at the lowest cost while adhering to strict regulatory requirements. See the U.S. FDA Food and Beverage Regulations for an example of some of the regulations they must adhere to. Controlling the work management process and using data to improve operations can mean the difference between a profitable year and an unprofitable one.
Food and beverage organizations are each unique in how they manage their assets and their reporting requirements. They share certain commonalities, however: tight margins, industry regulations, and large operating expenses result in increased pressure on maintenance departments to:
Improve efficiency and field excellence
Boost operational intelligence and decision-making
Achieve high compliance standards and be prepared for regulatory audits and internal reviews
Like most asset-intensive industries, the food and beverage industry is reliant on the uptime of revenue producing assets. Minimizing equipment downtime allows companies to realize greater levels of production from their equipment. This is where maintenance plays a key role in the bottom line.
By maximizing asset performance through effective processes and tools, food and beverage organizations can control costs and meet distinct maintenance requirements.
When focusing on budget performance issues, management seldom looks to maintenance as an area with the potential for significant gains. It’s often a “necessary evil.” However, in the food and beverage industry, maintenance management ineffectiveness generates a significant financial loss for the company.
Food and beverage maintenance EAM practices can mean the difference between profit and loss. Continuous production means equipment is constantly in use, so scheduled maintenance must be brief and effective.
How to Improve Maintenance in the Food and Beverage Industry – Food and Beverage Industry Requirements
The food and beverage industry has unique maintenance needs related to food quality standards, production critical assets, and complex work crews. These needs pose an interesting challenge for maintenance teams striving for more optimized practices.
Identification of changes in asset health – The identification of changes to asset health, or an impending failure is critical for profit margins in the food and beverage industry. In order to better control their maintenance costs, maintenance teams need the ability to better access and monitor machine data. When maintenance teams can easily identify an asset issue, they can react immediately and swiftly resolve the problem, preventing unexpected and costly breakdowns.
Strict requirements on equipment performance and food quality standards – The food and beverage industry face multiple industry regulations and food quality standards. The impact of a failure on company revenue can be extreme. Reducing risks and maintaining regulatory standards needs to be at the center of all maintenance related projects. Asset condition monitoring, as well as effective production control and predictive shutdown systems, are fundamental to safe and secure operations.
Complex asset connections – Assets in the food and beverage industry are connected by a system of conveyors, belts and fasteners. This adds a level of complexity to maintenance that other industries don’t experience. Maintaining this equipment to keep pace with the rest of the cogs in the food-processing production line requires constant attention and specific technician skills.
Identify and manage production critical work orders easily – When a critical production asset requires maintenance, it is necessary for the maintenance to be completed as quickly as possible. Additionally, this work cannot take place during critical production periods, unless absolutely necessary. Maintenance teams need the ability to easily plan, schedule, assign, execute, and complete work orders.
Maximize uptime of production equipment – A food and beverage organization’s production capabilities are highly dependent on the state of its capital assets. Leveraging the availability of key production assets is critical for organizations to meet their quotas. Maintenance teams need to work within these demands to ensure assets are available during critical production periods.
Continuous improvement with effective reporting – As the saying goes, knowledge is power. When maintenance teams can analyze their maintenance practices, they can improve their planning, scheduling, and execution, and in turn, can optimize their processes. Food and Beverage maintenance teams need access to accurate data to ensure analysis is correct.
Complex maintenance shifts and work crews– Food and beverage maintenance planners and schedulers need the ability to handle various groupings of resources for their specific work units. Flexibility to manage crews by craft, team, or a combination is critical for successful planning and scheduling of maintenance tasks.
It’s no easy feat creating efficiencies within a food and beverage organization. It’s even harder to do so in this current climate when regulatory compliance requirements are more strict than ever before, assets are critical for production, work crews are complex and pressures to avoid downtime are high.
VIZIYA’s WorkAlign® Suite was built on the premise of helping maintenance organizations to create efficiencies by connecting and optimizing every step of the maintenance workflow. VIZIYA has worked collaboratively with the largest and most sophisticated maintenance organizations to enhance their asset performance.
Join us for a 5 Workshop Series on Enabling Intelligent Operations for the next decade of EAM & Supply Chain Excellence
What is Intelligent Operations?
Intelligent Operations is a bold new approach to achieve Operational Excellence (OE). Companies that implement Intelligent Operations can achieve new levels of performance, leading to optimal profitability and top performance. Achieving the right balance is not a simple task. In this virtual workshop series, we explore the Intelligent Operations Framework and showcase real customer stories.
Intelligent Operations integrates Data, Sources and Processes to improve decision support, enabling greater worker insight and sharing of information across enterprise boundaries.
Register now to attend this 5 week virtual workshop series. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Led by Accenture, the Intelligent Operations initiative is supported by solutions from VIZIYA, Prospecta, Logic Point and Evora IT Solutions.
Improve your processes and cut maintenance costs at the same time
Maintenance budgets are an attempt to balance the demands of the assets against the funds available. And curbing maintenance costs relies on far more than simply reducing the budget. The money available for maintenance is never unlimited, while the need for maintenance always increases.
Most of us work for organizations where overall profitability is of very high importance. Profits are simply total revenue minus total expenses. This very simple equation means the choices come down to either increasing revenue or cutting expenses. Maintenance budgets are often a point of consideration for the later.
Reducing maintenance costs often relies on cutting the budget. A better way to save money is to invest in selected maintenance projects.
Profit as such isn’t a concern for the public or non-profit sectors, but that’s not the same as not having any budget concerns. Those who maintain publicly owned infrastructure, for example, have often seen their budgets slashed repeatedly. As a result, key infrastructure is allowed to deteriorate, shortening its useful life, and accelerating refurbishment or replacement. Controlling maintenance costs is always important, regardless of your core business or mission.
There are many ways to reduce maintenance expenses, but they all come down to three main strategies. All three may work in the short-term, but two methods do so by amassing trouble and expense in the long-term.
Stop doing maintenance completely!
While this strategy will definitely reduce short term maintenance costs, it is highly impractical to revert to reactionary maintenance in the long term. It’s also sure to eventually reduce your organization’s operational capacity and therefore its long-term profitability. And what do you do with your skilled maintenance labour force in the meantime? Assign to other duties? Furlough?
This strategy can seem very attractive to someone who doesn’t really understand maintenance and just wants the short-term financial gains. They’ll get them, but the overall cost, in the long run, will wipe out those gains and probably cost even more money than it would to have left the maintenance strategy as it had been.
Cancel all maintenance process improvement projects!
This is a minor increase over the first strategy, as you at least continue performing maintenance. However, that’s about the only positive comment you can make about it. You need to keep looking at other solutions if the most positive thing you can say about a strategy is that it’s not the very worst one available.
The temptation here may be greater than simply calling a halt to all maintenance activities. After all, no one is saying not to maintain your assets, just to stop all process improvement projects and enhancements currently being developed.
There are certainly expenses associated with any maintenance project. However, cancelling them can be compared to dropping out of school to avoid paying another year’s tuition. You’re saving money today at the cost of reducing your future revenue.
Selectively invest in maintenance!
This is most often the winning strategy for both reducing and controlling costs. The right maintenance projects can reduce your long-term expenses, while simultaneously improving your capacities. When it’s done right, this strategy is a double win. Maintenance is more effective and efficient, and less costly than it was before.
This can be a winning strategy even if you have no concerns about your budget or the current quality of maintenance work. You’ll be a hero if you can improve on either or both of those items.
Remember, profit is simply revenue minus expenses. Reducing expenses without reducing maintenance quality means more profit, both today and in the long-term.
There are clear benefits to improving maintenance processes, and most of those benefits will accrue to your bottom line in one way or another.
Given the evidence, it may be tempting to save money by executing a new project. However, it needs to be the right project, or you won’t get the maximum benefit. Any successful maintenance project must eliminate inefficiencies, increase work quality, reduce safety risks, and therefore reduce costs.
VIZIYA has a great deal of experience, assisting many different companies across many different industries, to improve their maintenance processes. What we have found is that certain specific enhancements tend to reduce maintenance costs, regardless of the organization or the vertical in which it operates.
Six Methods to Improve Maintenance and Save Money at the Same Time
Improved reporting and analytics
PM planning and execution
Priority decisions based on asset criticality
Planning and scheduling
Improved Maintenance Reporting and Analytics
Management support may be the most powerful change agent for a maintenance organization. One of the best ways to get management support is with quality data.
Improvements to reporting doesn’t accomplish anything by itself, but it gives your team insight, goals, and the ability to move forward. Succeeding in maintenance is about understanding where you are and what your next steps are to improve. Reporting and analytics put this power in your hands.
The sort of fine-grained data you can get from a quality maintenance reporting solution is invaluable. First, better information usually leads to better decisions. Second, having the data at your fingertips shows you where improvements can have the most impact. Third, it’s a great tool for convincing others. Management may not listen or care if you tell them that the maintenance team is overworked or needs an increased budget. However, they will find it harder to ignore cold, hard numbers.
One of the less obvious advantages of improved reporting is how it can help you to discover best practices within your own organization. Site business processes are often very different, even within the same company. One of the great advantages about analytics and reporting is that it allows you to compare and benchmark them. Not only does this show you which sites are excelling at particular parts of your maintenance mission, it allows you to draft individualized plans to improve the processes at each site.
Preventive Maintenance Planning and Execution
Reactive work is recognized as being 3 to 5 times more expensive to conduct than properly planned preventive maintenance work.
When maintenance moves from reactive to a planned environment, there is less wasted time and effort looking for the right part, getting instructions, and less confusion around who is doing what and when. Just imagine the craft productivity that could be attained if your technicians go straight to the job and straight to work, rather than spending the first hour or two searching for a plan of action.
If you’re mostly doing corrective maintenance, you likely don’t do much material planning, and as a result, you’re going to carry excess inventory just to avoid stock outs. But stock outs are inevitable since only repair history is guiding material purchases. You may also have to rely on the expedited buying of material which was not planned. This means higher procurement costs for the materials and rapid delivery.
The key to effective maintenance is the right work, at the right time, done at the highest level of quality. Moving from a reliance on reactive and corrective maintenance to a preventative maintenance strategy will benefit your assets and your budget.
Priority Decisions Based on Asset Criticality
If you have made the decision to move from reactive work to preventive maintenance, then you need to determine what needs to be maintained and when.
A reactive vs. preventive scenario:
You’ve got to make a decision, and you’ve got to make it fast. A piece of equipment on the plant floor has just failed, and the only available crew has a full schedule of preventative maintenance work orders. You know the PM work can be pushed back a bit (it’s preventive, after all), so you decide to shift the PM crew to reactive maintenance and get that asset back online.
It sounds like a good plan. The problem is that we didn’t give you all the information. The equipment in need of corrective work is not production critical. Having it offline for a day will only reduce capacity by a minimal amount.
The asset scheduled for PM work, on the other hand, is crucial to continued operations. It’s true that PM work can often be pushed back, but what about the times that it can’t? In short, if the critical asset fails, production is completely halted until you can get it back up and running.
These are extreme cases, but they highlight the need for determining work order prioritization and asset criticality. There are always limits on the resources you have, some equipment will always be more important to production, and some maintenance tasks are more time-sensitive than others.
Building an effective budget and monitoring it closely is very important. It can also be harder than it sounds. How you build your budget depends on your maintenance strategy & goals, as well as any rules your organization has in place for budgeting.
A maintenance budget should be established to meet the demands of the assets, based upon history, targeted asset life, and production demands. Simply copying last year’s budget and adding a small percentage, as is the case in many companies, won’t meet those goals.
In brief, Alcoa believed that 20 to 40 percent of the maintenance budget was controllable. That doesn’t mean you can cut that percentage from the budget, but it does mean that it can be controlled.
If you’re like most maintenance organizations, about 20 percent of your assets consume about 80 percent of your budget. Start by looking at that equipment, with the aid of your asset criticality index, and build a budget for each piece of critical equipment. This will help you to control your costs by showing where money should be spent, where it shouldn’t, and where it absolutely must be spent to avoid production downtime.
Warranty cost recovery is often overlooked by many maintenance organizations. The dollars recovered can be substantial yet are often left sitting on the table because many maintenance teams lack the systems necessary to assemble, submit, and track warranty claims for a successful recovery.
In VIZIYA’s Warranty Business case paper we point out the requirements and benefits of successfully submitting warranty claims.
The numbers below show what you could expect to recoup if you claimed every warranty to which your organization is entitled.
New Equipment: 3%
New Parts: 1%
Rebuilt Parts: 5%
Contract Labor: 5%
None of those percentages individually are very large. The overall average rate is only 3.4%. However, let’s plug in some dollar figures and see what happens.
For this exercise, we’ll assume your overall capital equipment budget is $25,000,000. Your actual capital equipment expenditures may be higher or lower than this. Of that, new equipment is around $10 million, and your organization is spending $5 million each on new parts, rebuilt parts, and contract labour.
At $10 million dollars, your expected recovery on new equipment warranty claims is about $300,000. New parts, which cost you $5 million, have the lowest warranty recovery return rate at 1%. Even here, though, you can expect to recoup $50,000 in warranty claims. Rebuilt parts and contract labour could net you another $250,000 each. The grand total, if you’re submitting all eligible warranty claims, comes to $850,000.
This assumes, however, that you are recovering 100% of all submitted claims. Warranty Week reported that the average warranty recovery rate for companies using manual processes is between 10 and 25% of total potential warranty expenses. Manual warranty program administration can result in inefficiency, error, delayed claims, and thus a low rate of recovery. However, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights, instituting an automated warranty management solution has been shown to raise recovery rates to 50% of total recovery opportunity. Companies with very focused and efficient processes may recover even more than 50% of total warranty expenditures. Even at a rate of just 50%, the potential exists to recover $425,000.
Would you turn down an $425,000 increase in your budget? Of course not! Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing when you don’t have a good warranty management system in place.
One approach would be to take just one or two hours per week to focus on identifying warranty work orders for possible warranty claims. Focus first on claiming reimbursement for the largest amounts on your most expensive equipment or parts. You may be surprised just how fast you manage to get the payback on your time.
Warranty claims are a potential goldmine for maintenance departments, but sadly the money is often left sitting on the table. If you’ve been asked to cut 5% from the maintenance budget, there’s a very good chance you could balance that cut through warranty claims alone.
It’s very easy to miss the opportunity for a warranty claim. Say you’re replacing a pump, and you think to yourself, “That pump was only six months old. It shouldn’t have failed like that.” Today, though, you’re concentrating on getting the pump back online. Tomorrow you’ll be concentrating on something else. Before you know it, thinking about making a warranty claim isn’t even a distant memory.
Your organization could certainly use the money (couldn’t we all?). But this lack of action has other long term effects. A year later, when the purchasing department needs to purchase some new pumps, they may go with the same vendor who provided your prematurely failed pump. Why wouldn’t they? After all, you’re not showing any warranty claims!
You can use warranty claims to evaluate your vendors. It might be worth considering competitors if products from your selected vendor keep failing prematurely or more than expected.
Long story short, the money from warranty claims is just lying there, waiting for you to pick it up.
VIZIYA has a product that simplifies the entire process and helps to ensure you don’t miss a single claim. You can learn more about VIZIYA’s WorkAlign Warranty Tracker here.
Planning and Scheduling
Planning and scheduling are at the core of maintenance process improvement. Taken together, planning and scheduling recommend what work you do, when it should be done, and what resources should perform the work. It’s hard to think of what could be more important to maintenance.
Picking the right work, at the right time, and having the right people perform it can certainly save maintenance dollars. A big part of these savings come from better labor utilization.
In his “Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook,” Doc Palmer notes the most utilization you will ever get out of a maintenance person is about six to seven hours per eight-hour shift. There are many reasons for this including breaks, meetings, gathering materials, traveling to and from job sites, etc.
Note that the figure quoted above is with planning and scheduling. Without planning and scheduling, the average wrench time at about two to three hours per day, not six or seven. In other words, proper planning and scheduling can cause productivity to rise by 100% or more! A 100% rise in productivity is almost unheard of for any project.
Maintenance planning and scheduling are recognized as industry best practices for many reasons. However, just because your organization is planning and scheduling doesn’t mean best practices are being followed. Like many aspects of maintenance, successful planning and scheduling revolves around the characteristics of the assets under your care. For more on this, please see “Asset Based vs Resource Based Maintenance Scheduling,” and our white paper, “Planning and Scheduling Best Practices.”
A properly executed maintenance project shouldn’t cost money. Rather it should save money and result in a more efficient maintenance process.
The old saying is that it takes money to make money, and it’s true in this case. That’s why one of the earliest steps in any maintenance project is to secure funding.
It is critical to ensure that you have a properly researched and planned business case showing the return on investment model. VIZIYA provides assistance to our customers and prospects who desire to make an investment in critical maintenance process improvements. Please contact us if you’re interested in reducing costs while making your maintenance processes more efficient.
There’s never been a better time to review asset management processes and focus on strategic IT projects that will improve operational efficiency.
So VIZIYA is casting a free industry update on developments in Asset Maintenance Scheduling, Mobility, and STO. This live webinar will reveal exciting developments in fully-integrated work order management tools and demonstrate how these solutions optimise workflow, seamlessly integrated with your CMMS to make maintenance best practice easy.
Register now to attend this free 45-min on-demand webinar. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
VIZIYA Specialists in STO, Scheduling, and Mobile Management
A true maintenance cloud solution will encourage best practice
Cloud solutions have some undeniable advantages compared to on-premise installations, such as speed of installation, security, quality control, data management, and cost savings. These advantages can be especially attractive for maintenance organizations, which is why many of them are currently evaluating the maintenance cloud capabilities of different systems.
Maintenance cloud capabilities are the primary driver for maintenance organizations moving to the cloud. Be sure that your chosen solution provides what you need.
Everything we listed above is a general advantage of cloud computing. In other words, any cloud solution for maintenance will offer those. The advantages are inherent to cloud, or they should be. This means you’re going to have to dig deeper to determine which of the competing solutions will deliver the most value for maintenance.
You will need any solution you choose to have certain maintenance cloud capabilities if it’s going to be worthwhile. A complete list will vary from industry to industry, and even from organization to organization within an industry. Different needs require different capabilities. However, some maintenance cloud capabilities apply to every organization. We’ve summarized some of the most important capabilities to look for in this article.
Let’s take a moment to define some terms before we get into the details of what to look for in a maintenance cloud solution.
First off, most of the time when we’re talking about cloud solutions for maintenance, we’re really talking about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS is the application layer for a full cloud system, but it’s still reasonable for us to talk about “cloud” when we’re looking at these applications for maintenance. The application layer is the part you’re interacting with to get things done.
Your IT department may need to distinguish between cloud computing and SaaS, but we don’t need to do that right now. From the user perspective, SaaS effectively is “cloud.” IT World has an excellent (and short!) article on the difference between SaaS and cloud computing if you’re interested in the details. While we’re going to go ahead and just call everything “cloud,” you might want to read up on the differences if you’re meeting with the IT department at some point.
We also want to note that a true cloud solution for maintenance is not simply an on-premise installation hosted on a remote server. That might qualify as “cloud” from a strictly technical standpoint, but it’s not really what we mean when we discuss maintenance-focused cloud solutions. Cloud software for maintenance should be designed from the ground-up to take advantage of everything the cloud has to offer.
1. Maintains a single source of truth.
This is of great importance both to maintenance and the organization as a whole. Ensuring a single source of truth is a vital capability for any maintenance cloud solution. The data gathered by your maintenance system must be able to move to your ERP as needed. This saves time by eliminating duplicate entry of data, not to mention the incredible amount of time and energy it can take to identify which piece of data is the right one.
At a higher level, ensuring that your maintenance cloud solution gives you a single source of truth will provide you with the right data, at the right time. Accurate data is the foundation of analytics, a necessary component of improving your maintenance processes.
A maintenance cloud solution that maintains a single source of truth will prevent data conflicts from arising and ensure that the whole organization has the same data. Ideally, it should integrate directly with your ERP.
2. Encourage maintenance best practices.
This should always be a required capability for any maintenance software, whether cloud or on-prem. A system designed for maintenance from the ground-up is more likely to offer this capability than one that was designed for something else and adapted to the needs of maintenance.
Maintenance best practice is a big topic on its own. In short, any cloud solution for maintenance should encourage moving from reactive maintenance to a more preventive model, and if possible, predictive maintenance. In turn, this means that the maintenance cloud solution should be able to check the quality and accuracy of work orders to ensure that only properly prepared work orders make their way to scheduling.
You’ll also need your cloud solution to capture as much data from the equipment as possible. You can’t make predictions on equipment if you don’t have the historical data.
Whether or not a proposed solution can actually encourage maintenance best practices can be hard to gauge from a distance. The short answer to this is to talk to your vendor and ask them some questions. If nothing else, this will show you whether or not the vendor’s rep understands maintenance best practices. If the rep can’t answer basic questions about how the solution handles the backlog and constructing a work priority index, then there’s a good chance the solution doesn’t include those things.
3. Expands to meet your needs.
Today you know you need planning, scheduling, and some analytics for reports. What will you need tomorrow? It’s not really a fair question. You would just ask for it today if you already knew what you needed.
Maintenance cloud solutions may be faster to implement than on-prem solutions, but they still require effort, time, and money to roll out. Implementing a basic solution may leave you high and dry when your needs expand.
Look for a solution that can be expanded with other capabilities as the needs of your organization grow. The various modules should integrate both with each other and your ERP.
4. Mobility built-in to the solution.
What’s the point of cloud maintenance software if everyone is still tied to their desks? One of the big selling points of cloud computing, in general, is that you can access the software no matter where you are.
This is especially true for maintenance organizations. There are many advantages to a mobile workforce. Just one example: a craftsperson with a mobile solution can input meter readings and other data directly into your solution, and hence into your ERP.
Writing down inspection results on paper provides at least two opportunities for data errors: when the readings are written down, and then again when they’re entered into the system. The best decisions arise from the best data. That means prioritizing mobile over paper.
With that said, a mobile solution may not be high on your priority list right now, and that’s okay. However, it’s vital to ensure that any cloud maintenance software you choose be able to support mobile solutions. It’s better to have a capability you don’t use than it is to need a capability you will never be able to get.
These capabilities are essential for any maintenance cloud solution. VIZIYA’s WorkAlign Cloud can help you go even further, by integrating the entire maintenance workflow. Contact us today for more information on bolstering your maintenance processes in the cloud.