We’ve all been there – whether its at work, or sitting at home on our laptops, when, all of a sudden, some machine, or even the whole of Facebook, stops working. Sometimes, this is a minor inconvenience which will take a short amount of time to resolve.
In more serious cases, no electricity or machine breakdown are more serious. There are many reasons why a breakdown occurs, and sometimes this is out of our control.
However, the best way to mitigate against unexpected breakdowns, and to keep breakdown time to a minimum (and, therefore, avoiding additional costs and lost productivity time), is through maintenance.
What is important to realize is that are different sorts of maintenance. Before the asset breakdown, an organization can employ a different maintenance strategy depending on the nature of the asset. These maintenance strategies include the following proactive maintenance strategies: routine maintenance, preventive maintenance, condition based maintenance, and predictive maintenance.
However, once asset breakdown has occurred, one has to resort to corrective maintenance or reactive maintenance strategies.
Thankfully, there are various companies, like the NonStop Group (NSG), which provide maintenance solutions. We will discuss the NSG later, but first let’s dissect some of the existing approaches to maintenance and some key concepts.
What Is Breakdown Maintenance?
Breakdown maintenance, as the name implies, is a form of correctional maintenance that is performed on an asset or piece of equipment after it has broken down. Breakdown maintenance is a ‘form’ unplanned maintenance due to the asset breaking down unexpectedly.
Although this may be surprising at first glance, there are some instances where an organization has ‘planned breakdown maintenance’. We will get to this soon, but for now, lets briefly discuss the implications of unplanned breakdown maintenance. As should be expected, assets, machinery, or equipment suffering unexpected failure will impact an organizations’ productivity.
The effects of unplanned breakdown maintenance:
Any sort of unplanned asset or equipment failure which requires subsequent repair and maintenance harms a company in two ways – firstly, productivity will be impaired (therefore losing money), and the company will incur additional costs as it repairs its assets.
Due to these problems, unplanned breakdown maintenance is seen as extremely disruptive to the operations of a company. To mitigate against unplanned breakdowns, a company can schedule some ‘planned downtime’ of machines and equipment.
What is downtime?
Downtime is when assets or equipment are deliberately not in operation so that they are kept in the best possible condition. This is what is known as planned downtime. In the manufacturing industry, machine downtime coincides with maintenance work. Planned downtime is usually scheduled for holidays so that productivity is not harmed.
During periods of downtime, organizations will carry out routine maintenance, install upgrades, and remove/replace any parts or equipment which are not working.
However, organizations can also suffer periods of ‘unplanned downtime’ which occur during a companies’ operating hours.
Unplanned downtime is a major problem in the manufacturing, construction, and automobile industries; like machine breakdown, it is an unplanned event which can be defined as an unplanned stop which lasts for longer than five minutes. Of course, long periods of downtime will hurt a companies’ bottom line.
However, unlike machine breakdown, unplanned downtime can also be the result of other factors – such as material shortages, staff shortages, or unplanned maintenance. Later, we will discuss how the NSG can provide solutions to reduce downtime and get your company on the right track.
What is the difference between downtime and breakdown time in terms of maintenance?
While we saw that are some similarities between unplanned downtime and breakdown time, there some fundamental differences between the two. Let’s discuss these differences in more depth.
Breakdown vs Downtime:
Usually, downtime is a planned maintenance activity; but, as we discussed, downtime can also be unplanned. Breakdown maintenance, on the other hand, is exclusively unplanned.
As breakdown time is completely unplanned, there will be some delays to production. Planned downtime will not affect production as it is part of regular and scheduled maintenance.
Perhaps the most important difference in ‘downtime vs breakdown’ is the type of maintenance performed. Once equipment or machine failure has occurred, only reactive maintenance is used – in other words, corrective maintenance and emergency maintenance.
On the other hand, downtime is a different maintenance strategy which is focused on servicing assets, machines, and equipment before failure occurs. The two types of maintenance done here are preventive and predictive maintenance.
As mentioned, preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance is performed before an asset fails to lower future maintenance costs as well as extend the asset and machine life. Preventive maintenance will be discussed in more depth when we discuss some of the solutions offered by the NSG.
Run-to-Failure vs. Breakdown Maintenance
Let’s first explain ‘run-to-failure’ to see how it differs from breakdown maintenance.
We mentioned earlier that some companies will deliberately let assets (or certain pieces of an asset) fail before replacing them. Essentially, the selected assets will not be maintained by the company, only replaced after they have failed. Run-to-failure is best thought of as a version of planned breakdown maintenance.
Why would a company select this strategy? It is worth remembering that assigning maintenance tasks to technicians/a maintenance team can increase costs to the company. Thus, letting assets fail (as opposed to constantly maintaining them) can be more cost effective for a company.
Which assets will a company let fail before replacing them? Of course, assets which are vital to production and productivity will have to be maintained and monitored. But, for those assets which are not critical to production, have low financial value, or assets which are inexpensive to replace, ‘run-to-failure’ as a strategy will be utilized.
How do they differ?
Run-to-failure maintenance is a deliberate strategy adopted by a company to save money on regular maintenance. The company expects that the selected assets will fail eventually, and plan for these failures accordingly. As we have seen, breakdown maintenance is performed when there are unexpected failures to machinery, assets, or equipment.
These events are not anticipated by a company; instead, breakdown maintenance is inconvenient and undesirable as it leads to unplanned downtime, which impacts production at a company.
Another important difference is that companies will only run-to-failure maintenance on assets which are easily disposable; breakdown maintenance is reserved for assets and equipment whose failure is detrimental to company performance and production.
Repair the communication breakdown between maintenance and operations to decrease downtime
What extends periods of downtime for longer is the lack of communication between the maintenance and operations team. Equipment failure and downtime already constitute a large cost for most companies; therefore, it is essential that operations and maintenance communicate on problems they need to fix.
How can one do this? Essentially, through the use of streamlined management systems which make maintenance easier.
An example of this is the maintenance supervisor tracking machine downtime in real time, and, importantly, identifying and cataloguing the reasons for this breakdown. This data can be collected and stored automatically so that when a breakdown does occur, time is saved in diagnosing the reasons for failure. Of course, the technicians will also be alerted sooner when asset failure has occurred. CMMS can also improve communication between the teams, but this will be discussed below.
But first, let’s see what an asset management system entails.
Raise the bar on asset management
Primarily, a system to manage assets will lower costs for a company in the long-run; this is achieved through regular and scheduled maintenance work on assets and equipment.
While this sounds simple, we must remember that maintenance does not ‘just happen’ – rather, we need some sort of system to help us identify and report problems as they happen (and to tell us when the technicians have finished with maintenance); this same system should also tell us when maintenance and service work is next required in order to extend the lifespan of an asset part or important equipment. Of course, this means using digital solutions to help a company manage their assets.
To support a companies’ maintenance operations, utilizing CMMS software is of vital importance.
Asset management audit checklist: What condition is your CMMS in?
To truly implement a good maintenance system, one will need to have a Computerized Maintenance Management System (or CMMS). A CMMS is essentially a database which contains information on the companies’ maintenance operations.
Similar to managing assets, a good CMMS system will save a company money and time in managing their equipment, and preventing machine failure. A CMMS system will include fault codes and the maintenance history of assets/equipment which can help a companies’ decision-making process on maintenance.
CMMS software can be used to automate processes (such as creating work orders and assigning tasks to a maintenance crew) and track asset performance in real-time (through the use of sensors). Tracking machine performance in real-time is, of course, invaluable to a company that needs operations to run smoothly.
So, CMMS is vitally important to modern companies. Let’s now discuss one group which offers extensive maintenance solutions.
So, what's the solution?
We mentioned earlier that the Non-Stop Group (NSG) offers various maintenance solutions for companies. Let’s discuss in more depth what some of these solutions are.
For manufacturing industries, the NSG provides excellent management solutions which allows a company to monitor the performance of its assets and equipment in real time. Companies using the services of the NSG saw a reduction in downtime through asset monitoring and improved communication between maintenance and operations.
Another important solution offered by the NSG is a completely integrated asset and maintenance management system. The NSG describes this as an ‘end-to-end’ strategy which encompasses all of the maintenance strategies that we have discussed here. One of the strategies, however, ought to be discussed in more depth – and this is preventive maintenance.
As per the NSG, preventive maintenance is the practice of regularly servicing assets and equipment to ensure their continued reliability. Predictive maintenance is essential if a company wants to avoid machine downtime (and therefore costs to productivity). Importantly, a good predictive maintenance plan will also include the service history of an asset and when future servicing work is required.
As mentioned, the NSG can help provide companies with predictive maintenance solutions. CMMS software solutions provided by the NSG will automatically create work orders and a list of tasks (such as lubrication or checking a specific part) which need to be completed.