With many large scale plant based industries, according to a report from maintenance expert Sandy Dunn, poorly managed maintenance schedules can result in accounting for as much as 40 % of the operational budget, therefore improving maintenance effectiveness is a potential source for cost savings.
But what about the medium and long term effects of ignoring planned maintenance? Well, the cost implications can be and frequently are, substantial.
For many businesses operating in a variety of industries, planned and preventative maintenance is often low on the list of priorities, particularly because of its intangible nature. In the short term, when other issues take priority, Preventative Maintenance can often be side lined or even ignored without any immediate or obvious concerns. This is the mistake too many businesses make and can often relate to a decline in plant performance.
Why Preventative Maintenance, What Does It Involve?
The key here is in the word 'prevention' itself. Making sure that no barriers exist that would make the processing of material difficult is vitally important for quarry owners and site operatives alike.
As the saying goes 'time is money' and this most definitely is the case in the competitive market for washed aggregates.
Carrying out regular maintenance inspections on key plant will ultimately reduce downtime, increase operational efficiency and ensure that the risk of expensive reactive work is reduced substantially through planned and routine checks.
In addition, preventative maintenance measures can drastically reduce faults in day-to-day operations, as well as increase the overall readiness of plants in case of unexpected levels of processing requirements. Not only does regular maintenance improve and extend the life of the plant by preventing excess impairment, maintenance includes and is not limited to adjustments, cleaning, lubrication, repairs and the replacement of parts. Moreover, having the ability to prevent possible issues from arising in the future and causing downtime will also avoid interference with your ability to deliver a quality customer service.
It is our experience that the cost of maintenance can be three times higher if no form of preventative maintenance programme is in place. If you're not experiencing problems with the plant at the outset, it's always very simple to dismiss the value in this type of service, but only until you encounter a problem at first hand.
Regular inspections will pick up a large percentage of common faults that you would not otherwise have known and very often these faults can be easily rectified by having a competent Service Engineer on site.
Unplanned Maintenance Costs, an Unnecessary Drain
From experience, a recent example of costs incurred through lack of structured maintenance would be one customer incurring a bill of GBP 4000 (EUR 4670) for failure in not adhering to greasing schedules. This not only resulted in the replacement of various parts but approximately two days of plant downtime. Subsequently in this instance, had a Preventative Maintenance Inspection existed, the engineers would have been made aware of the issues on one of their regular site visits and plant downtime would have been avoided.
In another instance, a GBP 3000 (EUR 3500) cost was incurred by an untrained plant operative who manually modified overload settings within the control panel of an Aquacycle causing structural damage to the plant. Having completely trained operators is critical as in this instance the problem would have been avoided had the appropriate training been put in place. With both plant specific training and preventative maintenance in place, the savings would have been substantial for the customer here.
Various maintenance tasks were also overlooked by operators on another site, resulting in the necessity to replace chutes, a bearing on a Rotomax and a tail drum on a conveyor, all amounting in a GBP 3500 (EUR 4090) cost.
This highlights the importance and value in planned maintenance in terms of cost savings, as well as taking into consideration the cost of downtime experienced in the three scenarios outlined above.
Repair Focused vs Reliability Focused
In order to remain competitive by keeping running costs down and increasing capability, we need to move away from the 'repair' focused attitude and adopt a 'reliability focused' outlook. Furthermore, by maintaining plant equipment effectively, not only are you maximising production, you are also minimising the depreciation of the plant in terms of wear and tear throughout its lifetime.
Will preventative maintenance save you money in the long term? In short, yes it will. You will avoid reducing the average rate of throughput, you will avoid increasing operating costs and more importantly, you will avoid impeding customer service.
Due to the varying needs of different plants, the type and amount of preventative maintenance required varies greatly but ultimately, it will ensure a maximum level of material processed and high quality end products.
* Martin Jackson Global Custom Care Manager at CDE Global, Irland