Are You Scheduling Time for Preventative Maintenance?

Written By: Dave Hoyle

Recent responses to frantic part requests have me wondering who’s taking care of daily maintenance and package automation. In an economy of downsizing and just-in-time deliveries, somebody needs to watch the store.

What areas of your line are potential pitfalls or show stoppers? Would your production line come to a screeching halt if a component failed? Would the entire automation process stop because a part has a six-week lead time? These questions are often asked but rarely addressed. Yes, employing a maintenance staff is a cost with little if any benefit to the end product. An enormous amount of money is spent on winning new accounts. How much is spent to ensure the success of their order?

Scheduling downtime in any production line is now a necessity rather than a luxury. A line evaluation sheet is imperative to a preventative plan. Whether you run a 24/7 operation and schedule a one to two hour window on Monday mornings or run an eight-hour, five day week with a one-hour window once a month, preventative maintenance is great automation insurance.

Creating a checklist for review is relatively simple and is well worth the effort. Combining it with a component pitfall list ensures growth toward 99% uptime. Consider having your local vendor stock items on their shelf in exchange for a purchasing partnership. You may pay a little more for the item, but they carry the tax burden along with the cost of inventory in exchange for guaranteeing the item is on hand. Most equipment manufacturers have an itemized checklist for their products.

In summary, preventative maintenance, much like preventative healthcare, is always less expensive over the long term compared to the alternative. The challenge comes from finding the time to implement these types of procedures.  However, stocking your shelves and performing an overall preventative maintenance check seems like a much better option than shutting down production because you’re missing a part or two.

Dave Hoyle is the Integration Manager at Bastian Solutions’ robotics division in St. Louis, MO. His focus is in industrial and manufacturing automation, with a strong emphasis on continuous improvement. He has more than twenty years of experience in distribution and manufacturing, in a variety of industries ranging from food and beverage to machine tending.

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