When we think of reliability, our attentions are often focused on the long-term cost savings and the impact well-functioning assets can have on revenue and profitability. And while these benefits are hugely important, they aren’t the only benefits your organization might experience after implementing reliability best practices.
Yes, when you adopt and implement reliability centered maintenance (RCM) best practices, you're likely to see a positive impact on the availability and performance of your assets, as well as improvements within your maintenance workforce.
Have you ever watched a scary movie that is so suspenseful you can barely pay attention to what is going on?
Working on a piece of machinery with a history of breakdowns, particularly in a high-stress situation such as a reactive maintenance job, can be the same way – nerve-wracking. When maintenance technicians are hustling to fix a frequent bad actor, there can be a range of negative emotions in play: frustration, stress, concern and sometimes, even fear.
In short, it’s distracting to work on equipment that you think might break down – or put you in danger.
When working on equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained, maintenance technicians may consciously or subconsciously feel like their organization doesn’t care about efficiency, quality work, or their own safety. It’s not a stretch to see how someone might think, “If management doesn’t care, why should I?”
However, when equipment is properly maintained with a strong preventive and/or predictive maintenance program, the maintenance technicians can have greater confidence in the assets they work on. Instead of focusing on that telltale hum or watching for other signs of potential failure, operators at organizations that have implemented reliability best practices can focus on using the equipment efficiently and productively.
By committing to reliability goals that keep your equipment well-maintained, enterprises may see an increase in the workers’ confidence not only in the equipment they operate, but in the company as a whole.
The less maintenance technicians must wrestle to keep assets running, the more availability they have to cross-train on other pieces of equipment. But, if that employee is constantly dogged by a broken piece of equipment, there won’t be any spare time to focus on supplementary activities such as learning and professional development.
When a plant is running at full efficiency, it encourages employees to expand their skill-set.
By developing staff knowledge, the maintenance crew becomes more responsive and agile, which may lead to increased wrench time and even decrease the costs of calling in specialty workers.
Some machines can immediately cause harm to employees when they break down. For example, a guard may not be installed properly due to previous reactive maintenance and expose a technician to sharp or moving parts. Liquids can spill that are either hazardous or make a surface slippery.
Furthermore, when equipment is down or failing, maintenance technicians may feel the need to adopt workarounds and shortcuts, possibly out of frustration, or because they are rushing to compensate for a lower production rate. But, as we all know, shortcuts can expose personnel to a higher risk of injury.
All told, increasing reliability can decrease the likelihood of injuries – and the additional losses and challenges (such as lawsuits, worker’s compensation, and under-resourced shifts) that come with injured staff.
Having the proper steps to repair an asset documented in a job plan is critical to reducing downtime and rework and also eliminating potential injuries and wasted time.
In a sluggish economy, when budgets are tight, what are the first things to go? The extras: bonuses, holiday parties, employee luncheons, or wellness programs. The same thing happens when profits are impacted by broken or inefficient machines. Poor reliability may not only impact production and sales, it may also increase reactive maintenance costs, employee overtime, and turnover.
Being in a state of constantly fighting fires is a drain on morale and on budgets.
But the reverse is also true. When costs are low and profits are strong, there are more fiscal opportunities to retain top maintenance talent and keep employees engaged, healthy, and dedicated.
Companies that are able to invest in their corporate culture can yield big results – and investing in a preventive maintenance program to increase reliability contributes to that goal.
When we think about the benefits of reliability, likely the first one that comes to mind is how it impacts the bottom line by increasing the productivity of machines and decreasing downtime. And that’s a fantastic benefit, but it’s not the only one.
Greater reliability can have hugely positive effects for your maintenance workforce, by reducing the risk of injury, increasing morale, and providing employees with opportunities to develop professionally. Perhaps most importantly, it can contribute to employees working more efficiently and effectively because they can work with fewer disruptions or concerns that break their focus and productivity.
Mariah Patterson began writing as a child as a way to fill her time when her family moved to an isolated region in Maine. With no close friendships, developing cabin fever from intense snowstorms and only one fuzzy Canadian channel on TV, she created her own world through writing.
She began her career as a newspaper reporter before transitioning into marketing. After her youngest child was born, she left the traditional workplace and now pursues a freelance writing and editing career. An enthusiastic storyteller, she is currently writing a children's book series about a young girl and her love for geology. She is also wrapping up her first full-length, contemporary novel.
Mariah lives in the heart of Maine, but has a fondness for all corners of the state, from the mountains to the coastline.