Is zero equipment failure fact or fiction? Although it is the ultimate goal in many maintenance departments, many question if it is really an achievable goal. After discussing the topic with several maintenance professionals at different organizations, the majority agree, it is NOT possible to execute zero equipment failure, however it is a good goal. There are certainly several actions that maintenance departments can take to avoid the majority of equipment breakdowns and come closer to zero equipment failure.
Determining Critical and Non-Critical Equipment
What equipment can you afford to “run to failure”? What equipment is too important to be without? Determining which equipment is “critical” and which is “non-critical” is essential when working towards a zero equipment failure facility.
Critical pieces of equipment are vital to operation and/or production. Critical equipment should have top-notch preventative maintenance plans in place that are actively being followed. Having set routines for repairs and updates will help technicians notice performance/safety issues before a problem occurs. This will allow you to schedule the repair or update at a convenient time instead of having the equipment go down unexpectedly and scrambling to get it back up and running during peak hours.
Non-critical pieces of equipment are those that are not as detrimental to the operation. These pieces of equipment may be used on a daily basis or less regularly, and while having them fail will be a nuisance, it will not affect the entire operation while it is being repaired. It is still important to create and maintain a scheduled maintenance program on non-critical equipment in an effort to minimize non-scheduled downtime and prolong the equipment’s lifespan.
Minimize Disruption: Expect the Unexpected
Murphy’s Law dictates that whether or not a piece of equipment is critical, eventually something will go wrong unexpectedly. The key to a less disruptive unplanned downtime is to anticipate the failure and be as prepared as possible.
When equipment fails, chances are you need tools and/or parts to make the repair. While you may not be able to store a pricey backup motor in your storeroom, making sure you have a well documented, stocked, and organized storeroom will help the technician find the necessary tool/part quickly and efficiently get the equipment back up and running. (Having a detailed and well executed Preventative Maintenance strategy will help you anticipate the need to purchase that new motor and allow you to schedule the installation at the most convenient time.) No one likes to spend an hour looking for a tool/part for a 2 minute fix!
Another timesaver is to record parts that could be used as an emergency replacement if you are all out of the preferred part. While you may like to use Brand X belt on the equipment needing the repair, you have Brand Y available in your stock room. It has the same dimensions and ratings and will make do. Knowing what components can be used interchangeably in a pinch can eliminate the 45 minute round trip to and from the local supplier, the 3 day shipment of the new part, or trying to find a makeshift replacement on the fly.
In reality, zero equipment failure may not be achievable, but it is a worthy concept to strive towards. With the proper guidelines, a great preventative maintenance plan, and a positive attitude, perhaps one day you will be able to prove this theory fact.