Your industrial plant is full of finely-tuned equipment and systems, and your production rate and the safety of your employees depend upon smooth, reliable operations. An effective plant maintenance program is how you ensure that no surprises threaten production. Rather than waiting until a small problem turns into a costly repair, regular maintenance can keep everything running optimally, promoting a long service life for your equipment, reducing unexpected downtime, and protecting workers from potentially dangerous malfunctions.
What Is Plant Maintenance?
A maintenance program keeps your equipment in top working condition. By keeping your machines clean and appropriately lubricated and replacing parts when they start to become worn out (instead of waiting for them to fail), your systems operate more efficiently and are less likely to break down. Regular service also allows you to identify and correct small issues before they cause major problems.
There are two common types of plant maintenance:
- Preventative Maintenance: This is regular service performed at designated time intervals. That could be monthly, or it could be based on the number of repetitions a machine performs or the number of hours it’s in operation. It’s designed to ensure the equipment continues to run smoothly and to avoid unexpected breakdowns.
- Predictive Maintenance: With this approach, machine performance indicates when it’s time to schedule maintenance. It typically requires software and other technology, like vibration analyzers or pressure and temperature gauges, to help you monitor the equipment and determine when it’s at risk of malfunction. While preventative maintenance happens on a regular basis, predictive maintenance occurs as needed.
Each type has its place in certain applications, and some facilities may implement both approaches to best serve their equipment and their business. In both cases, some scheduled downtime may be required. While predictive maintenance is more expensive than preventive maintenance, it occurs less often, so the reduced scheduled downtime may help you save money over time.
Plant Maintenance Neglect and Effects
Some companies avoid performing maintenance because of the cost, falsely believing that a reduction in maintenance costs can help their bottom line. Unfortunately, neglecting plant maintenance can cost you far more in the long run.
- Broken Equipment: If your equipment breaks down, you’re facing hours or even days of lost production while you wait to get it fixed. Meanwhile, you’re paying employees a skilled wage to do tasks that would normally be beneath their pay grade, just to keep them busy. Purchasing a replacement part is often more costly than simply maintaining the parts you have.
- Increased Operational Costs: Putting resources toward repairs results in higher overhead, lost work hours, and rescheduling hassles. You may also have to pay more to expedite shipping for a customer whose order was delayed, for example. Poorly maintained equipment doesn’t operate as well, which could increase your energy usage.
- Production Management Challenges: When you get behind schedule, how do you prioritize your clients? How do you get back on track? You may have to pay employees overtime to make up for the lost downtime.
- Poor Customer Relationships: Everyone is on a deadline, and when your client fails to receive their order on time, they fall behind with their own customers. You’ll have to spend time and money repairing those relationships, or you may lose the client to a competitor.
Plant Maintenance Services with Marshall Industrial Technologies
Since 1951, Marshall Industrial Technologies has been your go-to source for equipment installation, machinery repair, electrical work, and plant maintenance. Our maintenance department manages routine, spot, and emergency maintenance, including services like instrumentation and process controls, millwright services, mechanical and electrical maintenance, pump maintenance, preventive HVAC maintenance, and both predictive and preventative machinery maintenance.
Through the years, we’ve helped countless clients save time and improve their bottom line with expert plant maintenance plans. Contact us to learn more about our full range of services, or request a quote for your customized maintenance program.