Maintenance Practices & MSMEs
Published on : Sunday 06-06-2021
Proper scheduled maintenance helps reduce the indirect cost that may occur due to breakdown, says Darshana Thakkar.
For a manufacturing company, how important is the health and reliability of plant machinery? What happens if the machine goes under breakdown?
1. Production stop
2. Delayed delivery
3. Loss of man-hour
4. Rush purchase of spares with higher cost
5. Failure/breakdown of adjacent parts of the machine
6. Accident or compromised human safety
7. Loss of order or customer.
If you find any of the above points relevant to your industry or you have faced any of the above problems in your organisation, you must read this complete article.
Can we prevent this breakdown incidence with minimal cost?
Yes, of course. Your little efforts in planning, scheduling, and practicing preventive and predictive maintenance schedules can give your organisation amazing results in terms of improved reliability of plant machinery.
What is maintenance?
Plant and machinery maintenance is defined as a set of activities that are necessary to keep machinery, parts equipment in good operating conditions to avoid production stoppage and loss.
There are different types of maintenance practices followed in industry.
1. Breakdown/Corrective/Reactive Maintenance
This occurs when work gets stopped because of a machine breakdown. In this sense, maintenance becomes repair work. Repairs are made after the equipment is out of order, e.g., an electric motor will not start if the conveyor belt is ripped or the shaft is broken. In this case, the maintenance department checks what the problem is and makes the necessary repairs.
2. Preventive Maintenance
In contrast to corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance is undertaken before the need arises and aims to minimise the possibility of un-anticipated production interruptions or a major breakdown.
Preventive maintenance consists of:
a) Proper design and installation of equipment.
b) Periodic inspection of plant and equipment.
c) Repetitive servicing of all types of machinery.
d) Adequate lubrication and proper cleaning, and painting if required.
3. Predictive Maintenance
One of the new types of maintenance that is gaining increased attention especially in the organised and corporate sector. In this, sensitive instruments are used to predict trouble conditions which can be measured continuously. The prediction of trouble in advance enables the maintenance people to plan for an overhaul.
Why is the maintenance of plants and equipment important?
An effective maintenance program will make the plant and equipment more reliable. Fewer breakdowns will mean less dangerous contact with machinery is required, as well as having the cost benefits of better productivity and efficiency.
Additional hazards can occur when machinery becomes unreliable and develops faults. Regular planned maintenance allows these faults to be diagnosed early to manage any risks. However, maintenance needs to be correctly planned and carried out. Unsafe maintenance has caused many fatalities and serious injuries either during the maintenance or to those using the badly maintained or wrongly maintained/repaired equipment.
Best and cost-effective maintenance practice for MSMEs:
1. Corrective Maintenance:
a. This should be the last option only in case of failure in part-2 and part-3.
2. Preventive Maintenance:
a. This is to be conducted to keep equipment in working condition and/or to extend the life of the equipment.
b. This is generally considered to include both condition monitoring and life-extending tasks which are scheduled at regular intervals.
c. Some tasks such as current, temperature, vibration measurement must be done while the equipment is operating and some other such as internal cleaning and lubrication must be done while in shut or power-off condition.
d. For this type of maintenance program, a comprehensive maintenance schedule including the requirement of manpower, tools, and spare parts are required to be prepared.
e. Most of the manufacturers of equipment and machinery are providing maintenance programs, plans and schedules at the time of purchase. This will be helpful for scheduling.
3. Predictive Maintenance:
a. This is known as new maintenance practices with the help of technology. Various sensors, monitors, and controllers help to diagnose the potential problem of the machine in advance.
b. Moreover, the prediction of maintenance by an experienced person or as per the recommendation of the manufacturer also helps up to some extent.
c. A proper checklist and method are required for this.
Recommendations for MSMEs
In order to reduce maintenance cost and increase the life of the machine and its spare parts, MSMEs may follow the following recommendations:
a. Establish a planned maintenance program
b. Ensure proper and periodic cleaning of the machine
c. Use lubrication and cooling as recommended by the manufacturer and of good quality
d. Adjustment of proper set point and replacement of oil as per specified period and with specified quality
e. During the operation of the machine ensure to follow all recommendations of the manufacturer including load capacity.
f. Ensure proper reporting procedure for workers who may notice problems while working on machinery
g. Some items of the plant may have safety-critical features where deterioration would cause a risk. Ensure a proper system in place to make sure the necessary inspections take place in time.
h. Prepare checkpoints of maintenance distributed in Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Annual schedule.
i. Sample format is available in Table 1.
Before starting any maintenance activity, observe the following safety precautions:
1. Decide whether your in-house technician or engineer is capable of doing or needs a specialised contractor. The person should be competent enough.
2. Plan the work carefully, ideally using the manufacturer's maintenance instructions, and produce a safe system of work. This will avoid unforeseen delays and reduce the risks
3. Make sure maintenance staff are competent and have appropriate clothing and equipment
4. Try if maintenance work is performed before start-up or during shutdown periods or weekly off days. This will help to avoid the difficulties in co-ordinating maintenance and production work
5. Provide safe access and a safe place of work
6. Don't just focus on the safety of maintenance workers – take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of others who may be affected by their work, e.g., other employees or contractors working nearby
7. Set up signs and barriers and position people at key points if they are needed to keep other people out
8. Ensure a moving plant has stopped and isolate electrical and other power supplies.
9. If the work is near uninsulated, overhead electrical conductors, e.g., close to overhead traveling cranes, cut the power off first
10. Lock-off machines if there is a chance the power could be accidentally switched back on
11. Isolate plants and pipelines containing pressurised fluid, gas, steam, or hazardous material. Lock-off isolating valves
12. Release any stored energy, such as compressed air or hydraulic pressure that could cause the machine to move or cycle
13. Support parts of the plant that could fall, e.g., support the blades of down-stroking bale cutters and guillotines with blocks
14. Allow components that operate at high temperatures time to cool
15. Place the mobile plant in neutral gear, apply the brake and chock the wheels
16. Safely clean out vessels containing flammable solids, liquids, gases, or dust, and check them before hot work is carried out to prevent explosions. You may need specialist help and advice to do this safely
17. Avoid entering tanks and vessels where possible. This can be very high-risk work. If required, get specialist help to ensure adequate precautions are taken
18. Clean and check vessels containing toxic materials before work starts
Sample case study – 1
Incidence: A worker received crush injuries to his head and neck while he was undertaking maintenance work when the hoist he was working on started up.
Cause of the accident: The power supply to the hoist had not been isolated before work started. This was because workers had not been given adequate training or instruction on safe isolation procedures. It was also found that isolation by the interlocked gates could be bypassed.
Sample case study – 2
Incidence: Maintenance staff removed a section of grating to gain access to a plant located below a walkway. A worker fell through a gap in the walkway, seriously injuring his shoulder.
Caused of the accident: The fall happened because there was nothing to make workers aware of the dangers caused by machinery maintenance. Barriers, guards, and signs should have been used to indicate that maintenance was taking place.
We usually, especially in the MSME sector, do not consider preventive or predictive maintenance as a part of business operations. We often do breakdown maintenance only. Have you ever considered calculating the total maintenance cost of the plant over a period of time? Normally new machinery is having very fewer maintenance costs. It starts costing after 5 years once wear and tear of parts starts. Have you ever added this cost systematically to the product cost?
If you check for a longer period the product cost without a proper preventative maintenance schedule, falls on the higher side. So the proper scheduled preventive maintenance helps to reduce the indirect cost that may occur due to breakdown including human safety and customer delivery.
Darshana Thakkar is MSME Transformation Specialist and Founder, Transformation – The Strategy Hub. An Electrical Engineer followed by MBA – Operations with rich industry experience, Darshana is an expert in transformation, cost reduction, and utilisation of resources. She has invested 25 years in transforming Micro and Small Enterprises. Her rich experience in resolving pain areas and real-life problems of SMEs helps organisations achieve quick results. Her expertise in managing business operations with limited resources helps clients transform their business practices from person driven to system driven with existing resources.
Darshana has helped many organisations to increase profitability and achieve sustainable growth. She is passionate to support the start-up ecosystem of our country. She is associated with CED, Government of Gujarat as a Business Function Expert in the Entrepreneurship Development program, as faculty for industrial subjects in the Second Generation Program (SGP), and as a start-up mentor and member of the start-up selection committee in the CED incubation centre.