Prioritizing Preventive Maintenance

To motivate the people of Philadelphia to put a fire safety plan in place, Ben Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Franklin wanted to protect his city and save lives, but this wisdom applies to many scenarios. Taking proactive steps to prevent future problems is more efficient and effective than reacting to a problem when it occurs. It is easier to stop a problem from happening in the first place rather than trying to correct or repair an issue, which usually occurs under a time crunch with significant financial pressure.

How can steel fabricators bring a proactive mentality to shop maintenance? They can begin by taking care of their equipment using systematic scheduling maintenance. This includes scheduling simple tasks like cleanings, changing oil and other lubricants, inspecting for fraying or damaged wires and replacing parts before they reach a critical level of burnout. Preventive maintenance (PM) can be calendar-based and occur at regular, predictable intervals; it can be based on usage amounts; or it can even be based on historical data.

Sophisticated prescriptive maintenance uses tools, software and sensors to collect and analyze maintenance data and suggest the best options for equipment maintenance. Across the globe, the steel industry is investing more and more in PM software because of the high demand for steel and the high cost of unexpected equipment failure.

Each fabrication shop has its own unique identity in terms of schedule, production, location, weather conditions, run time, budget and many more distinct factors. Having a specialized PM program means that maintenance can occur when your shop needs it and will benefit from it, without letting maintenance issues fall through the cracks unresolved.

PM not only prevents problems, but it also increases the accuracy and performance of the machines your team relies on. Just as getting the oil changed in your car at regular intervals prolongs the life of your engine, regular preventive maintenance prolongs your equipment’s life cycle. This also means you get a better return on your investment as the machinery you purchase lasts longer.

PM can be performed during scheduled downtime, reducing the amount of time lost to cleaning and fixing broken equipment at unexpected times. Rather than taking up precious unplanned work time, maintenance can be addressed while machines are already off and your plant is closed, preventing loss of productivity and revenue. Regular repairs mean fewer overall repairs as malfunctioning pieces do not cause wear and tear on other parts of a machine.

Another benefit of reliable equipment is improved safety for workers. Damaged wires can lead to a host of issues and make a workplace dangerous. Clogged equipment may not function properly and could put your employees’ safety in jeopardy.

Preventive maintenance is well worth the time, effort and expense associated with being proactive about caring for your facility and machinery. The payoff for preparedness far exceeds the time and cost of planning. Valuing your equipment means stewarding it well, and in the long term will save time and money.