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  • What is a Work Order Priority? The Maintenance Planner faces a daily process of balancing out the resources available based on the demand from Operations and Maintenance on how to achieve the best outcomes in terms of risk to productive output, quality, safety and waste in the daily management of the plant or manufacturing, process facility. The initial action in determining how to establish the priority for each Maintenance Work Order is to establish what is a Work Order Priority? Almost every Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) contains a field where you can set the work order priority, but few define exactly how it is to be used (which in turn determines what it should be). While there are a number of different interpretations of Work Order Priority that are possible, our view is that the Work Order Priority should represent an indication of the level of business risk that relates to the condition, fault or failure that has been raised by a Work order. The higher the overall risk associated with the fault or failure, then the higher the priority. Risk is generally represented as the combination of Consequences and Likelihood, so when assessing the priority of a work order, the following questions should be asked: If we do not perform this work: what is the impact on quality, safety, environmental conditions, energy and waste? what happens if the equipment suffers a functional failure, in what way would this impact on the ability to meet the output or production planned, and how large would that impact be? how likely would the equipment be to suffer that functional failure within the next (predetermined) time period? The first and second of these questions assesses the potential consequences of the likelihood of not performing the work; with absolute consideration of safety, quality, etc. and then the impact on the equipment, and the third question assesses the likelihood of those consequences occurring. While absolute priority must be given to the safety, quality, etc. needs the other conditions can then be evaluated using a risk matrix similar to the one shown in Figure 1. Applying Work Order Priorities in Practice Now we have looked at the principals how do we do this in practice? Assessing Consequences The phrase “functional failure” in the context used above comes from the methods defined in Reliability Centred Maintenance. What this means is that we first need to understand which function(s) are likely to be impacted by the fault or defect. RCM tells us that equipment can have many functions in addition to its primary function. For example, a pump, in addition to its primary function of being able to pump fluid from one location to another at a specified minimum rate, may have secondary functions that relate to Safety, Protection, Control, Containment etc. Further, RCM tells us that equipment can suffer a functional failure, in some cases, not just by failing to operate at all, but by failing in such a way that, although still operating, it fails to meet one or more specified minimum performance standards. So instead of operating at 20 m3/hr it has dropped to 15 m3/h. So careful thought is required when assessing each Work Order to understand which functions and associated functional failures may be impacted by the fault. Second, in order to ensure consistency in prioritisation among different equipment items, we need to understand the impact of the possible functional failure on overall business objectives. Bear in mind here that by “objective” we are using the (ISO 9001:2015) definition of an objective as being a “result to be achieved”. Those objectives could relate to the achievement of target performance levels in the areas of production throughput (failure to meet production targets), costs (failure to meet cost targets), or risk (failure to meet safety, environmental or social responsibility targets). So, when assessing consequences, it is important to be thorough, and it is also important to take a “big picture” view of the nature of these consequences on the overall business. Assessing Likelihood Assessing the likelihood of failure requires you to determine, in advance and in a consistent manner, the time period over which the likelihood of failure is to be assessed. For example, are we assessing the likelihood that the equipment will fail within the next week, within the next month, the next year, or some other time period? The correct answer will depend on your situation, but we would suggest that the time period should be consistent with your work order scheduling horizon. If, for example, you issue a work schedule for the maintenance execution team to complete once per week, then the timeframe for assessment of likelihood should also be weekly. Bear in mind that if the nature of the fault is such that the equipment will continue to degrade, then the likelihood of failure will increase as time passes, and so the work order priority should be reassessed periodically to take account of this. Too many organisations, in our experience, determine the work order priority when the work order is first raised, and then never reassess that priority (at least until, unfortunately, the equipment fails “unexpectedly”). Who Should Set Work Order Priorities? As you can see from the discussion so far, setting the priority for a work order requires knowledge of: The likelihood of impact on the safety, quality, environment, energy usage, etc. The current condition of the asset for which the work order has been raised The likelihood speed of progression from current condition to a functionally failed state The potential impact of this failed state on operational and organisational objectives, given the current situation regarding overall plant status, production plans, stockpile levels, potential workarounds etc. It is unlikely that any one person will have sufficient knowledge of all of these items to make a fully informed decision regarding work order priority. For this reason, we highly recommend that work order priorities be established jointly by maintenance and production/operations personnel, each of whom will bring different knowledge and skills to the decision-making process. Most likely, the production and maintenance representatives will be front-line supervisors, as they have the most intimate knowledge of the plant, but higher-level management supervision and/or involvement is likely also to be of value, in order to ensure that decisions align with overall management priorities. Work Order Priorities and Scheduling Work Orders The next question to ask is how Work Order priorities are applied?. Can we, or should we, always schedule the highest priority work orders for completion first? Regrettably, the answer is “no”. We should, however, as a general rule, start work on the highest priority work orders first, but when the work is actually completed will depend on a number of other factors. For example, if the work order requires spare parts that are not in stock, then there is little point in scheduling the work for completion until such time as the parts are actually available. For long lead-time items, this may be several weeks in the future. High work order priority may, however, indicate that acquisition of these spare parts is expedited with some urgency, which also raises a cost consideration. Similarly, if, to perform the work, the equipment needs shutting down, then the work will need to be scheduled for a time that has minimum overall impact on plant objectives, and performance of this work may be completed at the same time as a number of other work orders that require equipment to be shut down. This then also raises the question of contracting-out some of the work due to insufficient internal resources. Sometimes we may also schedule work for completion that is assessed as “lower” priority using the risk matrix approach. For example, from time to time Work Orders can be raised for Maintenance personnel to execute those that are not directly related to impending equipment failures. These are often proactive tasks that relate either to equipment service or improvement activities which are intended to improve overall equipment reliability. But note, for example, that while fixing machine guards is generally not done to prevent impending failure, however, if assessed using a risk matrix would definitely be rated always as high priority as it impacts on safety which overrides other lower priority tasks. We hope you’ll find the points we’ve raised helpful in your planning and scheduling of Work Orders.
  • GET THE BENEFIT FROM YOUR OPERATORS OF IMPROVED UPTIME AND THROUGHPUT Autonomous maintenance  (AM) is performed by the operators and not by dedicated maintenance technicians. It is a crucial component of  Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) . The core idea of autonomous maintenance is to provide the operators with more responsibility and allow them to carry out basic preventive maintenance tasks. Total Productive Maintenance  (TPM) was developed by Japanese companies, extending the existing concept of  Total Quality Control (TQC)  with the principles of preventive and predictive maintenance programs. There are numerous examples that have been published demonstrating the impact Operator related maintenance have had in improving throughput time, uptime and quality – usually seen as OEE. With conventional maintenance programs, a machine or a section of equipment can run until it fails or reaches a preventive maintenance/condition based date. The maintenance department is then responsible for handling/fixing it. In contrast,  autonomous maintenance  allows machine operators to carry out simple maintenance work (lubrication, safety checks, fixture and cover security tightening/securing, cleaning and inspection) to act as “first-line” maintenance personnel in preventing breakdowns and reacting faster if a certain failure has been detected using the “eyes and ears” of seeing and listening to the motion, ‘rhythm’ of the machine.  Since  TPM  gives operators much more responsibilities, planned ( kaizen ) dedicated training is required as well as some modifications on the machines to ease operations of cleaning and maintenance. This will significantly increase the operators’ skills level and helps them better understand how to maintain and even improve the equipment. What Actions Are Expected from an Operator Performing Autonomous Maintenance? Autonomous maintenance  requires operators to develop and master certain skills: Detect abnormalities and contribute to countermeasures to reduce problems; Understand the functions and the components of the machines and detect the causes of abnormalities; Recognize possible quality issues and identify their causes. The machine operator should be able through familiarization with operating the equipment to provide fast and reliable initial diagnosis and troubleshoot in a certain number of failure cases. The best way to transfer knowledge of how to manage this continuous learning experience is through brief one-point learning sessions and over time an entire methodical implementation program. 5S - The Starting Point for Operator Based or Autonomous Maintenance The main objective of 5S is to create a culture or mindset of discipline and orderliness, while the whole work area is cleaned and organized. Autonomous maintenance, on the other hand, aims to ensure that operators clean and inspect their equipment to prevent deterioration and failures. It should be clearly understood that the two initiatives are very different. The area of overlap is where equipment-related problems need to be fixed (e.g. oil leaks or product spillage) in order to keep the area clean. This is normally done as part of 5S without any transfer of maintenance responsibilities to operators. On the other hand, deep cleaning and tagging of the equipment is the first step in a long process of establishing maintenance skills and responsibility among operators. It is very important to first establish general cleanliness, tidiness and discipline in the work area through the implementation of 5S , before introducing autonomous maintenance. 5Soften naturally leads into autonomous maintenance as a seamless process, as shown below. While autonomous maintenance is implemented in a pilot area, 5S should be rolled out across the organization as soon as possible, to ensure that everyone is involved and to create a general culture of discipline throughout the organization. 1. Initial Cleaning and Inspection The initial cleaning of the machines is essential for high-quality maintenance. It is usually performed by all involved members of the production, maintenance and engineering team and includes the thoroughly cleaning of the equipment and surroundings.  The purpose is to ensure that the machines’ performance is fully restored by identifying and eliminating all signs of deterioration. Leak detection; Control of loosened bolts; Lubrication; Detection of oil or transmission leaks from gaskets, oil spray from lubrication systems, cutting oil leaking from pipe joints, blocked drainage points; Correction of defective items; Removal of process waste and product from the air intakes, lubrication points of motors/gearboxes, fans, compressors. Removal of dust and dirt on operating panels, inspection and safety covers; Loose covers on electrical panels allowing dust/contamination of relays and circuit breakers, clogged air filters non-working electrical cooling fans Prevention of fire in the waste and dust accumulated in inaccessible places; Faster jig and die/tooling changeover and better precision adjustments capability when change-overs occur on production lines. The process and the results can be written down in a SOP and uploaded to the CMMS /Production SOP. This would ease the traceability of the detected faults. Furthermore, next time when performing initial cleaning, the operator can directly call-up the information and simply follow the steps. 2. Eliminating Contamination for Maintenance After the initial cleaning has been performed and the equipment has been restored again, it is very important to make sure that it doesn’t deteriorate again. This happens by improving accessibility for cleaning and maintenance. This is important. If the area where contamination builds-up can’t be reached then the continued operator maintenance cannot be carried out. Standards must also be generated for ensuring machine lock-out when access to certain areas is required where safety is the overriding criteria. At this point, the machine operators can be given the freedom to control the root causes of contamination directly at source, especially given the fact that they know the machine better and were the ones who performed the initial cleaning. This step also considers all possible safety issues that could happen during autonomous maintenance. Cleaning a running machine is quite dangerous and the shift changing of operators only increases the difficulties. The maintenance leader should take into account the following possible solutions: Maintain cleaning standards . The most serious problems cannot be repaired immediately and may request the extended shutdown of the machine. Other detected issues such as leaks or damaged parts can be fixed. Achieving lasting cleanliness by avoiding soiling . The main causes for machine soiling should be eliminated gradually. The common solutions include high-quality sealing and covers. However, some causes for contamination may request more serious investment as dust extractors or sediment pumps. Promoting cleanliness , when stressing the topic during inspection operations and machine maintenance. Operators should be shown how to facilitate the planned inspections  by gradually eliminating any inaccessible zones. Encouraging operators to keep the workplace in order . Very often, fixing a problem is delayed because of a missing specific machine tool. 3. Develop Standards for Cleaning, Lubrication and Inspection The establishment of standards for operations of cleaning, inspection and lubrication starts from the current maintenance documentation and follows the suggested lubrication and inspection schedule. This is the step, which can be individually ‘tailored’ to the operators of each machine. In this phase, the core team develops its own standards showing the items to be cleaned and/or lubricated, the methods to be used and the responsibilities to be assigned. In this case, two complementary methods should be followed: With non-critical machines, operators can be trained in-house to follow the established general standards and then given the opportunity to settle their own rules, led by an experienced maintenance technician. For critical machines, a special working group, dedicated to maintenance methods and production, can be created. The outcome of this phase is the agreed machine standards, which are also the best evidence for the successful implementation of autonomous maintenance at a plant.   These standards are described using One Point Lessons or very visual photo illustrations where text is kept to a minimum. 4. Inspection and Monitoring Basic machine inspections are frequently overlooked in many manufacturing/processing plants. This doesn’t have to be the case, since the implementation of equipment inspection is not hard to do. The machine operators can successfully perform the following simple tasks: Checking lubrication levels; Locating leaks; Tightening loose bolts, fittings Identifying possible mechanical problems such as wear, wobble, change in the sound of a moving assembly, the feel of overheating motors, appearance of cracks in moving assemblies. Make mechanical adjustments, check belt tension, level of air /water/hydraulic/steam pressure used by the machine, check mechanical position settings, operation of micro switches and sensors. Again, use well illustrated One Point Lessons 5. Finalize Standards The last step for a successful implementation of  autonomous maintenance  is to finalize all provisional standards and establish a process for  autonomous maintenance . Have any questions? Please reach out >
  • Defining Maintenance Maintenance can be defined as: “The combination of all technical and associated administrative and system activities intended to retain an item in, or restore it to, a state in which it can perform its required function ”. This definition infers the following: Maintenance has both a technology perspective (i.e. focus on items of plant and equipment) as well as a management perspective (i.e. focus on the organisation and management thereof). Maintenance focuses on items of plant and equipment in order to ensure that it performs a required function (i.e. the driver of maintenance is the function to be performed, not the plant and equipment itself). This forms the foundation of a preventive and reliability centered maintenance planning approach. Maintenance deals with both preventing and correcting any condition that could result in downgrading the function to be performed. Finding the appropriate balance between such preventive and corrective work is key to optimising plant and equipment lifecycle cost and profitability. The challenge to the maintenance function is therefore to understand both the equipment to be managed and as well as how to manage these in a way that will result in maximum value to the company. What is a CMMS Computerized maintenance management system  ( CMMS ), is a software package that maintains a computer database of information about an organization's maintenance operations. This information is intended to help maintenance workers do their jobs more effectively (for example, determining which machines require maintenance and which storerooms contain the spare parts they need) and to help management make informed decisions (for example, calculating the cost of machine breakdown repair versus preventive maintenance for each machine, leading to better allocation of resources). CMMS data may also be used to verify regulatory compliance. To properly control the maintenance of a facility, information is required to analyse what is occurring. Manually this requires a tremendous amount of effort and time. A CMMS also allows for record keeping and tracking completed and assigned tasks in a timely and cost-effective manner. In recognition of this, companies are widely using CMMS systems to better control and organize their maintenance departments and tasks. A CMMS offers multiple core maintenance functionalities. It is not limited to manufacturing but expands to facilities, utilities, fleet, hospitals, sports arenas and more where any type of equipment/assets are subject to repair and need maintenance. With improved technology and increasing competition, more and more companies are switching to CMMS vs using manual methods to track and organize information. The different functional components of a CMMS include but are not limited to: Equipment/Asset data management through control of the Asset Register Service Request and Work order system Corrective and Preventive Maintenance through the Work Order and Planning functionality Labour and Service Provider Management through the Work Order functionality Scheduling/Planning functionality MRO Parts Inventory Control and Stores Management Purchasing and Vendor Management Budgeting and Cost Tracking Performance Reporting CMMS packages may be used by any organization that must perform maintenance on equipment, assets and property. Some CMMS products focus on particular industry sectors (e.g. the maintenance of vehicle fleets or health care facilities). Other products aim to be more general. CMMS packages can produce status reports and documents giving details or summaries of maintenance activities. The more sophisticated the package, the more extensive analysis facilities have available. Many CMMS packages can be either web-based, meaning they are hosted by the company selling the product on an outside server, or LAN based, meaning that the company buying the software hosts the product on its own server. Maintenance Cycle The maintenance cycle below provides a graphical overview of the overall maintenance process, including: planning, scheduling, execution, performance assessment and ongoing improvement: Key steps in the above cycle include: Asset Management Policy, Objectives and Strategy: This process happens outside of the CMMS, it considers the maintenance Business and Statutory requirements and comes up with an Asset Management Policy. This Policy is documented in a Standards Manual, this standards manual is the master document that outlines how the CMMS system will be setup and utilised to perform the company maintenance requirements. Plan Work: Plan Work considers the asset condition and, based on the Asset Management Policy, determines which assets requires Preventive Maintenance, and how often (frequency) such maintenance is required. The Frequency is determined by the asset condition and criticality. Planned Maintenance Tasks : This includes activities such as Preventive and Condition Based Maintenance Tasks as well as scheduled events such as Maintenance Projects. The standard work plans/ instructions, maintenance frequencies and schedules are carried out in the CMMS. These tasks are typically of a repetitive nature and once loaded into the CMMS they can be scheduled once and will automatically reschedule and assign resources on an ongoing basis. Corrective Maintenance Task and User Requests: This includes planned as well as unplanned (emergency) corrective maintenance activities events as well as ad hoc service requests. These activities are recorded and managed via the CMMS to ensure effective response time and allocation of work. These tasks are not fixed and are determined by the condition of the asset or equipment. Schedule Work: This process is carried out in the CMMS and refers to the allocation of resources such as Personnel, Materials, Tools or Equipment to a Job card. Such allocation of work is typically performed by a Maintenance Planner. Modern mobile-enabled CMMS systems can push the work directly to field technicians in real time without the need to generate and issue paper based Work Orders. Execute Work: This process is carried outside of the CMMS and refers to the actual physical work/ maintenance that is carried out. Feedback: There are 2 steps in the feedback process. The first step happens outside the CMMS and refers to the Technician completing the job card with feedback of the parts used, work done etc. The second step happens inside the CMMS and refers to the Planner capturing the feedback from the job card into the CMMS. Modern mobile-enabled CMMS systems now allows the Maintenance technicians to directly capture their feedback in the CMMS system, thereby reducing unnecessary administrative work. Reporting: This is the power behind a CMMS system and refers to the reporting capabilities of the CMMS. All data that is captured from Job cards and the information that lies on the asset can be crossed references to build reports. Analyse: This is the process of analysing the reports generated by the CMMS and benchmarking this data to performance standards and best practices. This gives a platform for improvements to be made. Improve: Refers to the improvements made to the Plan Work that has been identified in the Analyse phase. Download the full white paper here > More on Fiix CMMS > Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or queries at: sales@eams-usa.com | sales@eamsafrica.com

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