Resources & Maintenance Management - How to be Effective
When conducting an ISO 9001 audit and clause 7.1 (Resources) is discussed, the auditor is looking for evidence that the company has the necessary number of employees and that the facility that they operate in is suitable for their needs (space, amenities, etc). Clause 7.1.3 (Infrastructure) details the requirement that ‘the organisation shall determine, provide and maintain the infrastructure necessary for the operation of its processes and achieve conformity of products and services’. This is where maintenance management can come into its own.
In an ideal world, there would only be preventative maintenance and no reactive maintenance for both companies and people. As individuals, we all attempt to plan when we get our cars serviced and MOT’d but for many, day-to-day life can get in the way and as a result instead of getting the car serviced and MOT’d, just the MOT takes place. Many people hold off on getting the boiler serviced until it doesn’t work properly. The same also happens in the workplace. Companies look at the risk levels associated with planning maintenance, decide that it is low risk and that weekly or monthly checks will suffice. However, this is not always the case.
In an office based environment, the risk for reactive maintenance is low. If the building is leased, then depending on the lease agreement the landlord could be responsible for fixed wiring inspections, supply and maintenance of fire extinguishers, heating, maintenance and servicing of air conditioning (a number of landlords will contract out building maintenance to a contractor) or the leaseholder could be responsible. Other maintenance requirements for the leaseholder could be lighting, legionella (if the building has water tanks), office equipment eg. multi-print units (combined scanner/printer/fax (yes, some large printer units still have a fax facility!), cleaning, and much more. Companies that have data storage facilities are encouraged to have clean rooms, with back up units for lighting, heating and air conditioning. These units would require preventative maintenance plans in place.
In the manufacturing environment, there are 2 main types of maintenance – planned and reactive. Most small, medium and some large companies will have a small amount of planned maintenance, but the rest is reactive. This can be due to a lack of space to store spare parts, cost of purchasing spare parts and the availability of competent persons to install to name but a few examples. Some of this can be counteracted by the company if when purchasing the item (primarily if new) they agree a service plan with the supplier. The supplier will supply the competent person/s, parts required and contact the company on an agreed basis to plan the servicing of the unit.
Planned maintenance is where companies are able to plan the utilisation of resources in advance, for example agreeing service contracts for air conditioning units, fire extinguishers, emissions monitoring equipment or their transport fleet (if operating a transport fleet, Safety Inspections are recommended to be carried out between 6 to 13 week intervals depending on the age of the vehicle/tractor unit and the trailer). Use of a CMMS (computerised maintenance monitoring system), a spreadsheet or a timeline can all be suitable methods of monitoring what maintenance is required and when.
In using these systems, it can be recorded when planned maintenance or servicing of items is required and can then be scheduled in to have the least amount of impact on production runs. Other types of planned maintenance can take place where an item of machinery needs to be serviced by an approved agent and the manufacturing facility needs to cease operation to enable this to take place. These are frequently known as annual shutdowns or annual overhauls – traditionally companies such as Fords and UK Power Stations (coal/gas fired power stations) would have known times of the year that the facility would stop production so that planned maintenance could take place.
Planned maintenance enables the company to factor in start-up phases if commissioning new equipment to ensure that the quality of the product manufactured hasn’t changed in line with the change of equipment. It also allows time for the collection of production statistics to determine whether changes have impacted speed or volume of production, which can affect delivery dates.
Reactive maintenance is the most prevalent type of maintenance particularly in the manufacturing sector. This is a result of:
The financial impact of storing expensive spare parts which may-not be used for years;
Stores areas having limited space available with some spare parts being notably large in size (taking up a large area of the storage facility);
Availability of employees to manage the stores facility/room;
Providing the necessary level of security for some parts eg. some items maybe fragile or costly.
If a company has easy access to suppliers of spare parts, it can be seen as financially astute to all, that the spares supplier covers the cost for storing the parts verses the company expanding their storage area. Or if the service agent holds on to the spares and brings them to site when completing the service, this can also be seen as a beneficial arrangement to the company.
There is still a large market within the UK that handles the supply of ‘second-hand’ equipment eg. auction companies, IEM (formerly Industrial Exchange & Mart), or even Google.
When purchasing mechanical equipment ‘second-hand’, it is essential that the seller concerned can provide the potential customer with information on availability of spare parts. This is especially true for items that could be deemed critical, so that if the a unit stops working (for example a hydraulic hose leaks), the machine owner is not faced with potentially costly reactive maintenance and if other hose suppliers do not carry that type of hose, then it becomes ever more costly to the company, as the downtime of the equipment can then affect deliveries to customers. It then becomes a false economy to purchase older equipment.
The same can also be said for retaining old equipment where parts availability is scarce, because it is still working and there’s no need to replace the item yet. The flaw with this view is that in an age where supply chain issues are common, and equipment availability can be hindered by delays on availability available (such as the shortage of semiconductor chips during the pandemic) this presents a potential risk to delivery times, it can affect customer satisfaction, lead to an increase in non-conforming products, damage to company reputation and more.
Author - Claire Harling, NQA Regional Assessor