The Importance of Qualified Maintenance Personnel and a Spare Parts Inventory
Written By: Rick Meyer
A facility’s conveyor system is often the lifeblood of a business but often it is not treated as such. Unplanned downtime disrupts production and directly affects the bottom line, but downtime can often be avoided or greatly minimized with qualified and effectively trained maintenance personnel as well as an adequate on-site spare parts inventory.
At least one maintenance technician per shift is always recommended, and often additional are required for a large system. Ideally, a lead maintenance technician will be identified to become the expert on a system prior to installation. This technician should attend factory training prior to system go-live and, if possible, observe installation of the equipment to gain additional working knowledge.
One of the most important things a maintenance technician can do is planned maintenance. Planned maintenance often includes inspections and lubrication of components. Liken this to the regular oil changes required by your automobile. A quality service center will typically perform a general inspection of your vehicle including an oil change and often can identify if coolant, brakes, or tires may be nearing the end of their useful life.
It’s undeniable there is value in addressing a potential problem with your vehicle before becoming stranded on the side of the road. While your broken down conveyor system will not leave you stranded on the side of the road, it could cost a business tens of thousands of dollars an hour in revenue. A qualified maintenance technician who performs planned maintenance is a facility’s first line of defense against costly, unplanned downtime.
Spare Parts Inventory
A second critical item in minimizing unplanned downtime is an adequate on-site spare parts inventory. It is inevitable during the life of a system that there will be components that fail. Having an on-site critical spare parts inventory can be the difference between downtime of a few minutes and downtime of hours to days. This is an important topic to address during the bidding phase of any project, and it’s important to have those parts on-site prior to a system go-live.
The cost of a critical spare parts inventory can vary greatly depending on the system size and complexity and be anywhere from 1%-10% of the initial system investment. A spare parts inventory should consist of any items that could cause extended downtime if a failure occurs. Often these can be limited to non-stocked and longer lead time items. If an acceptable downtime is several hours then many items that are readily available locally may not need to be stocked.
A combination of qualified maintenance personnel and a spare parts inventory is critical to minimizing downtime and sustaining performance levels required by many businesses. Having these critical pieces in place will allow the facility to operate with less downtime, and in the event of a failure causing downtime, react quickly and effectively to keep downtime to a minimum.