When manufacturing companies look for ways to cut expenses, the maintenance, repair, and operations supply chain (MRO) is often the first area to go under the microscope. However, viewing MRO as merely an expense category forfeits an opportunity to benefit from a potential source of strategic advantage.
Manufacturers can achieve not only savings but also productivity gains by shifting the focus from “How cheaply can we manage our MRO tasks?”, to “How can we integrate MRO with our other processes to achieve our business goals?”
Developing a systematic, value-added approach to scheduled maintenance is a good place to start. A strong scheduled maintenance program can pay dividends in several areas:
- Production: To some managers tasked with making production quotas, shutting down a perfectly performing machine or manufacturing line in order to perform routine maintenance is a waste of good productivity time. However, scheduled maintenance actually increases productivity by reducing unscheduled downtime and major equipment failures. Properly scheduled maintenance coordinates multiple repairs and replacements that can be accomplished during the same downtime, rather than shutting down multiple times as parts fail. It also allows managers to shift production capacity among lines or divisions by adding runs, authorizing overtime, and reallocating inputs. As one line undergoes proactive maintenance, another ramps up production to compensate for the downtime.
- Capital Budgeting: Frequent and regularly timed filter changes, gasket/diaphragm replacement, and other maintenance activities that reduce friction, vibration, corrosion, cross-contamination, leakage, etc. can add years to the lives of expensive processing equipment. Allocating these fixed and capital expenses over more products not only lowers production costs per item, but also gives managers additional information they can use to make strategic decisions. Line expansion, retooling, relocation and other production options can be made based on customer demand and company competencies, rather than the need to replace an expensive piece of equipment.
- Human Resources: Scheduling repairs – and having your MRO supplies kitted and waiting for your at the point of use – rather than waiting for a pump, valve, or other component to fail makes scheduling more precise and reduces labor costs. Scheduled maintenance almost always takes less time than emergency service. Employees do not have to waste time diagnosing a problem, and the process is a matter of routine. Team members gain proficiency along with experience during the maintenance. Also, the maintenance crew members can assemble themselves and their tools while the production line is still running, ready to start work the moment machinery is stopped and locked out.
Start Scheduling Maintenance
For scheduled maintenance to assume its rightful position as a strategic operation, manufacturers must answer a few basic questions:
- WHY are they considering integrating regular maintenance into their production schedule?
- WHO should be involved in creating the plan? While upper levels of plant management should lead the discussion, input and buy-in from process engineers, machine operators, scheduling departments, supply chain experts, etc. will be crucial.
- WHICH components and machinery are conducive to preventative repairs and overhaul? This likely will necessitate collecting data to determine mean time between component failures, time required to perform maintenance tasks, lead time between part ordering and delivery, etc.
- WHEN should maintenance be performed to reduce unscheduled downtime, minimize inventory expense, and maximize efficiency?
SDI can create a customized, MRO business process program for your company that coordinates supplies for repairs, synchronizes business processes, and maximizes equipment life to save you money. Call us today at 866-643-1573, or request additional information.