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Main problems, risks and challenges in the field of maintenance and repair

06.02.2022

A properly organized maintenance and repair process will ensure the stable implementation of production plans, the prompt elimination of failures, and a balanced expenditure of funds. An inefficient process will become a headache for management and performers, absorbing enterprise resources with no visible benefit to the business.

In such circumstances, it is vital to identify problem areas for maintenance and repair and possible growth points. After all, as industry leaders note, MRO optimization is associated with the growth of key business indicators:

While top companies are paying attention to MRO and investing in IT infrastructure for asset management, their more inert competitors are content with 55-70% OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). They fail to adequately manage maintenance costs and lose up to $50 billion a year in downtime.

How to fix this situation? Let’s consider four key maintenance and repair problems and ways to optimize them.

Lack of data

Respondents to many MRO surveys cite lack of awareness of the real condition of equipment as one of the key problems. Maintenance managers, even with the necessary resources and personnel at their disposal, are forced to operate in the dark.

The lack of data or the lack of appropriate tools for monitoring negatively affects the effectiveness of MRO. First of all, the mechanism of early detection of failures suffers. Without structured operational data, it is also difficult to do root cause analysis and forecasting.

It is important to understand that shortcomings in the field of equipment monitoring negatively affect not only its technical condition. Without performance data, it is impossible to assess the value of assets, which will lead to a decrease in key business indicators.

The deployment of lifecycle management projects will help change the situation. With the help of IIoT solutions, the enterprise will be able to receive real-time data from sensors and controllers, check the history of maintenance and failures, form operating process standards (SOPs) and create effective maintenance plans.

Finance and supply

Even if the enterprise has implemented an ideal maintenance and repair program based on objective data, the reliability manager will still face problems with the rational allocation of resources. Financial constraints and supply errors can significantly reduce the efficiency of MRO planning.

In order for the service to be effective not only on paper, but also in reality, it is necessary to rely on the long-term value of assets.

Also, when budgeting for maintenance and repair, it is worth considering all types of costs – fixed and variable, direct and indirect, depreciation and tax.

This requires communication between the various decision centers so that the reliability manager always has an understanding of the business implications of MRO decisions.

Mistakes in funding prioritization can lead to a number of problems:

— increase in the number of failures and downtime;

— decrease in the efficiency of equipment and its service life;

– increased maintenance costs and inventory overruns;

– unreasonable waste of working time;

– inadequate labor costs;

— underutilization of assets.

Analysis of the state of assets from the perspective of business interests is also important when organizing the operation of a spare parts warehouse.

The maintenance and repair service must have all the resources at its disposal for the timely elimination of failures or preventive maintenance. At the same time, it is important to avoid excess stocks, because they negatively affect the working capital of the enterprise.

To synchronize finances, supply, and at the same time streamline work with personnel in the field of maintenance and repair, it is enough to transfer the management of these processes to a modern IT system. An example is SmartEAM, which contains functionality for automating the planning of maintenance and repair and the formation of work tasks, taking into account material or personnel restrictions.

Planning and risks

Since we are talking about synchronization, it is worth mentioning another problematic area of ​​maintenance and repair – the inconsistency of processes. Maintenance schedules inevitably overlap with production plans. It is unlikely that conflicts can be avoided 100%, but the use of IT solutions to automate planning will minimize the negative consequences.

Modern systems based on artificial intelligence (Artificial Intelligence, AI) are gradually learning to find compromise solutions that will satisfy the interests of MRO and production. Only at first glance, investments in such projects seem unreasonably high. Practice proves that only AI is capable of quickly optimizing (taking into account risks) maintenance plans for hundreds of production assets. There are not enough human capabilities for this.

Personnel Management

The preparation of maintenance plans is associated with physical assets, technologies and material aspects, but the implementation of these plans is a matter of personnel management.

In order to effectively create and control work orders, it is important to create a viable collaboration model and provide all participants in the process with tools for real-time exchange. Namely: information about anomalies and failures, procedures and deadlines for their implementation. On the one hand, this is how the corporate culture is changing, on the other hand, convenient functionality is being introduced to optimize maintenance and repair on the front line.

The next step may be to find ways to minimize the role of the human factor in the organization of maintenance.

This is a promising direction of development, because today not only the solution of routine tasks in the field of maintenance and repair is delegated to AI. More and more analytical work related to asset lifecycle management is being delegated to artificial intelligence. Thus, enterprises simultaneously solve two maintenance and repair problems – a shortage of qualified personnel and minimization of risks from the loss of leading reliability specialists.

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