How To Establish an Equipment Maintenance Program

Greasing cogs may be part of a routine maintenance program.
Greasing cogs may be part of a routine maintenance program. (Image: Aaron Graubart/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Regular equipment maintenance adds years to the life of machinery and minimizes operational downtime. Preventive maintenance on a machine can include several aspects conducted at multiple times, and is frequently conducted by more than one employee. Replacing filters, changing oil or coolant, as well as inspecting for and repairing rust damage are types of actions performed according to an equipment maintenance program. Understanding the equipment thoroughly and formalizing a schedule for upkeep are key components in establishing an equipment maintenance program.

Consult with machine operators and maintenance technicians to identify which machines in the facility require the most maintenance. Research the preventive maintenance tasks associated with every machine, and the time frame for conducting those tasks.

Examine market conditions and facility-specific information to determine whether to use a staggered maintenance program, so that two machines are not inactive at the same time, or to institute a periodic time frame where all or most of the machines are down at once to conduct mass maintenance routines.

Create an overarching maintenance procedure as well as procedures for each machine, listing what preventive maintenance needs to be done on it, the time frame for each task and the operator responsible for completing the task. Assign machine operators to complete simple tasks such as coolant, lubrication or oil replacement, but a dedicated maintenance technician should be assigned for more involved tasks. Inform employees of the tasks they are individually responsible for.

Begin instituting the maintenance program. Shut down the department and conduct maintenance if employing a total shut-down method. Start with the machines with more complicated maintenance procedures if implementing a staggered approach, then work down to less complicated machines. Study the time frames for the maintenance work and avoid a schedule that involves more than a single inactive machine in one area at any given time.

Use the date of the initial complete maintenance checkup to institute a timetable for future maintenance work. Coolant may have to be changed weekly, filters changed monthly, wires and pipes cleaned and inspected once per year, and parts replaced every five years -- track and plan for it all. Hang a checklist on each machine with areas to fill in what type of work is done, when the work was done and who did it. Keep a master equipment maintenance schedule with the maintenance department or area supervisor.

Create, document and institute a procedure for the reporting and tracking of machine breakdowns and concerns for any non-routine maintenance work. The idea behind an equipment maintenance program is to be proactive and catch small problems before they turn into large ones. Track all time, costs and non-routine work associated with each machine to identify problem areas.

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