Industrial Maintenance FAQ

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Q: How can one estimate the percentage rate of capital cost for maintenance activities? That is, what percentage of new equipment cost could be realistically charged for maintenance activity?

A: Some studies estimate 2% - 5%. It can be as high as 10%. Ultimately, it depends on many factors, including:

1. Are you using foreign or domestic equipment?
2. Are your maintenance staffers well trained?
3. Are your operators well trained?
4. Is the facility adequately designed to meet its production demand?
5. What industry are you in?
6. Is the facility offshore or onshore?
7. Was the sole focus of the designers/builders on initial capital cost, or did they spend effort on insuring that high quality equipment was used in construction of the facility?
8. Did the constructors do a so-so job, or was there particular attention paid to having a quality installation?

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Q: How important is planned maintenance is in any industrial plant? Such as in an organization in which no root-cause analysis or similar planned-maintenance system is in place.

A: Root-Cause Analysis may not be an absolute necessity as a first step but some sort of planned maintenance system is essential if you are to control your maintenance operation effectively. And simply put, you need real data before you can make effective decisions about planned maintenance so you need to start recording maintenance activity.


"Planned maintenance" is very important (if not critical) if you want:

- to control the plant and not the other way around
- to control your budget and improve on your costs
- not to be called at 3 AM to respond to plant issues
- to show your operations/production colleagues that you do in fact know what your purpose in life is at work

To be successful in maintenance (and to become world class) you need to follow some critical elements in your maintenance process. They may include:

· Accurate asset records
· Gap analysis
· Asset criticality
· Skills enhancement
. Reliability awareness


- Start small,
- Get help,
- Stay strong ...resistance could be overwhelming when it comes to
change ...cultural change will be difficult.


Your very first step is to decide WHICH plant to maintain and WHEN. Not all your plant will need maintenance and it's best to concentrate your resources on plant that will have consequences if it fails.

The WHEN to maintain is decided by several factors including:
- History of failure
- Spare parts availability
- Manufacturers recommendations
- Production requirements
- Staff availability to maintain

We don't know your plant type or size but the best practice when moving from haphazard (fire-fighting) maintenance to planned maintenance is to start in one small plant area and get your systems and methods going to your satisfaction before expanding to larger areas.

If you do it right on a small scale, and can show improved plant reliability as a result of your efforts (which must be clearly
documented), this will support your efforts to extend your methods to larger plant areas.

Good maintenance management including planned maintenance is NOT a complex process, and can be applied at a very low cost.

To answer the original question...

Unplanned (breakdown) maintenance can cost between 4 and 400 times more than planned maintenance. It is the cost consequences that must be measured.

There is no standard -- an unplanned power shutdown in for example an aluminum refinery can be extremely costly when compared with a planned maintenance activity, but a rear tire failure on a small dump-truck would probably have low cost consequences when compared with changing the tire as a planned process.

Maintenance is all about risk. Converting one current maintenance-management system into a pro-active process (in a focused fashion) is generally a sound investment.

The one important aspect is that total buy-in from the whole team is required. Start by reviewing your business processes to include continuous improvement with a dedicated process to also improve and maintain the maintenance program.

Do not attempt a shotgun approach. At present, it sounds as if the following steps would be key:

- Education (from top management to the shop floor)
- Adjust your business processes
- Execute an initial risk assessment to provide focus
- Review current CMMS configurations, methodologies and work order formats
- Ensure continuous improvement is applied to maintenance transactions -- work
order review, problem solving, history analysis, change control
- You may need to do a project based clean-up of your maintenance program if
the effectiveness is somewhere below 25%.

Maintenance Program Effectiveness = A x B x C x D
A = Equipment with defined functions and failures with Risk based tasks
B = Risk Based Tasks with good content (spares, instructions, estimated
times etc.)
C = Task done according to schedule (understanding PFI and overdue
D = Task done well -- workmanship

Do this calculation with your team and reflect on what you need to improve in a systematic and sustainable process.


The basic process of developing an effective maintenance program is always the same; it doesn't matter whether you're putting a satellite into orbit or want to maintain a water clarifier at a sewage-treatment plant. What's different is the level at which you are going to through specific methodologies; this depends on the specific issue(s). Standards are often more confusing than anything else, often existing only to create a sales opportunity or to protect information.

Maintenance task designs should be based on two main parameters: risk and failure. The only difference between a spacecraft-manufacturing facility and a run-of-the-mill manufacturing plant is the level of sophistication and the consequences (risk). For the application, you need to consider the risk (safety, environmental, economical etc.), and acknowledge the technical feasibility restrictions failure behavior has due to evident/hidden, age determination/random, patterns and the potential-failure interval which determines the warning time. Within this framework lies the maintenance solution.

If you want to be proactive in any manner, you should at least consider these aspects. Anything less than that will present a less than optimal solution, most probably creating a reactive environment. This unfortunately
implies that you need some basic resources, information management and commitment. This does not require Weibull, other statistical analysis or costly software, many resources, etc.

The answer lies in providing an effective process to establish and then maintain the maintenance program. Although the total effort is logical and simple, it's unfortunately not easily achieved. Very few companies get it right.

Q: What are the (best) procedures for evaluating which brand of a capital purchase plant item is the "best buy" when faced with a number of similar performance brands? For example, if a new pump is required, how do you decide which one of say six brands will be purchased? What factors do you consider? How do you "weight" those factors? Do you depend on "gut feel" or on a computer program to decide? Do you look only at the up front capital cost, or at all the costs over say the 20 year life of the item? What is your practice?

A: As a general guide, here are suggestions for doing it in three parts...

(1) Financial Analysis:
Ideally you would use discounted cash flow techniques over the life of the pump but the difficulty with this is estimating things like life, maintenance, power etc. You may have to assume that they are the same for all offerings in which case you are simplifying the analysis to a comparison of capital costs only. How much detail you go to depends upon how much money is involved. for expensive purchases you may also look at it from differing view points eg from the view of the project, view of the shareholder etc (for one you include tax and depreciation the other you don't)
(2) Intangibles:
These are all the things you can't put a value on easily. These criteria are either mandatory or wants. Mandatory criteria have a yes/ no response (ie its blue rather than a nice color). if an item doesn't meet the mandatory criteria then it's not assessed further. Example:
cost less than x, meets standard ABC1234.
The wants are usually descriptive in nature ie easy to maintain, looks nice etc. the criteria you use depends upon what is important to you.
The simplest way to identify these is ask around your organization.
Criteria we use for contractors is experience/ expertise, capability, quality and OHS system. it's also common to include the cost from your financial analysis. For the most important want (probably cost) give it a weighting of 10 then give the other wants a weighting based on high important they are compared to the most important one.
You assess each offering against the want criteria, there are many ways you can do it but we prefer to give the offering that best meets the want a score of 10 and then give the other offerings a score based on how close they come to the best option. You then multiply all the numbers to come up with a preferred choice
(3) Risk analysis:
You could include this in your list of wants but we prefer to keep it separate so that it's "more transparent". what you include is again up to you but at the very least you consider any assumptions you made in the previous steps.
We have tried to be generic but hopefully we haven't gone too far. The amount of detail you go to depends upon how important is the purchase.
You can use computer programs but we prefer to do it ourselves so that we get a "feel" for the numbers.

Products used in "Industrial Maintenance" can include:

  • Air Conditioning Units
  • Fork Lifts and Accessories
  • Hoists and Cranes
  • Industrial Blower Fans
  • Industrial Conveyers
  • Industrial Generators
  • Lift Trucks
  • Pallet Racks
  • Platform Trucks
  • Scissor Lifts
  • Steel and Plastic Lockers
  • Welding tools and supplies for automobile

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