Asset maintenance is crucial for asset-heavy industries like power utilities, oil, and water. After all, equipment breakdowns can halt production and cost Australian companies thousands of dollars. Yet many companies perform maintenance only when these breakdowns occur. While having a quick response strategy is important, relying solely on a reactive approach to maintenance can be detrimental. It often results in teams being caught unprepared, technicians going on overtime, and repair costs skyrocketing. A far more effective approach for companies is to proactively maintain their assets.
Proactive maintenance is all about ensuring assets run smoothly and eliminating breakdown risks. This approach requires more forethought and upfront investment than reactive maintenance, but the benefits are immense. By addressing the root of the issue rather than the symptoms, companies can significantly reduce downtime and overall maintenance costs.
If you’re in an asset-heavy industry, we’ve provided a simple framework to help your company establish a proactive maintenance strategy.
Invest in proven solutions
The most effective way to shift to proactive maintenance strategies is to install maintenance management systems and field force software. The former consolidates all information pertaining to your assets into one place, making it easy to monitor equipment conditions and anticipate issues early. Maintenance management systems offer a holistic view of budgets, maintenance histories, and service requirements. This view provides insights that dramatically improve decision making when it comes to allocating company resources and planning out maintenance activities.
Meanwhile, field force software like WorkBuddy are especially useful for coordinating field technicians. It has separate portals for contractors and technicians where they can communicate on projects, schedule tasks, and report on job progress. Plus, field force software lets you create simple checklists for technicians so they can follow proper maintenance procedures step-by-step.
Create an extensive asset database
High-quality data on assets will allow you to better identify inefficiencies and formulate smarter maintenance plans. However, to get a complete picture of asset health, you need to enter the right type of information in your database. Key data points to gather include:
- Asset registry – This is an inventory of the key attributes of all the assets you’re maintaining such as location references, installation data, original equipment manufacturer, asset number, and general description.
- Site data – These are contextual information that may be useful for maintenance teams such as geographical, climate, traffic, pipe or wiring schematics, and underground data.
- Expenditure data – This includes overhead costs, travel expenses, and technician rates associated with performing maintenance tasks.
- Condition data – This consists of a detailed description of asset status, including the underlying problems, the extent to which assets require maintenance, and the last date of inspection. Condition data is often captured through visual inspections, but using digital technologies to automate inspections is becoming the norm. Smart sensors, in particular, can be installed in water pipelines to detect leaks and high corrosion levels.
- Historical data – These are complete logs of data recorded throughout the life of the asset. This is used to identify anomalies in asset equipment and helps technicians predict potential faults in systems.
Classify and prioritise assets
Identifying critical assets in your business operations enables you to prioritise maintenance efforts and budgets. With historical and expenditure data, you can figure out which assets are more likely to have issues that hinder your operations. These assets should be classified as high-priority, so your entire team knows which assets require constant care and a larger portion of the maintenance budget.
Plan asset maintenance activities
It can be easy to overlook the many activities involved in proactive maintenance, which is why it’s vital to guide field technicians through the process. For starters, decision makers must determine the appropriate maintenance procedures for each asset and how frequently they should be conducted. Leveraging maintenance histories and contacting original equipment manufacturers will give you a better idea of the maintenance requirements for specific assets.
These requirements should then be formatted into simple checklists so field technicians can stay on track of their tasks. For instance, if your company plans to proactively maintain power transformers, your checklist would include some of the following items:
- Reading magnetic oil gauge of tanks and inspecting for oil leakage on a daily basis
- Checking, cleaning, and topping up oil levels in silica gel breathers monthly
- Performing dissolved gas analysis of transformer oil annually
- Examining and fixing transformer cooling systems every year
Additionally, you need to ensure field technicians are following certain standards when performing maintenance. This means setting expected response times when early signs of asset failure occur and defining the quality of service expected for routine tasks. You’ll also want to create proper inspection procedures to improve data collection and future maintenance planning. Last but not least, your maintenance checklist must incorporate items from safe work method statements to minimise health and safety risks.
Set contract schedules
Once you’ve established clear roles and responsibilities, create a detailed schedule to put your plan into action. Set an official start date for the programme and assign specific deadlines for maintenance activities.
Ideally, you should schedule one year’s worth of maintenance tasks.Routine inspections and repairs will have short time frames and need to be scheduled more frequently throughout the year. On the other hand, major upgrades intended to prevent equipment defects will likely need longer durations. Of course, your schedule should be flexible enough to account for planned facility shutdowns and peak production demands.
WorkBuddy’s scheduling features can streamline this entire process. Managers get a centralised dashboard where they can map out maintenance tasks and assign them to the most qualified people. Field technicians can then view their assigned tasks and requirements via technician portals, share field reports, and tick off checklists with point-and-click ease.
At the end of the day, you need advanced solutions and comprehensive plans to implement a proactive maintenance strategy. WorkBuddy is built to meet this need with powerful scheduling features, user-friendly portals, and detailed checklists. Contact our specialists today to find out how you can improve your maintenance processes.