Oman Review 2017

Reliability excellence through planned preventive maintenance

Reliability excellence through planned preventive maintenance

Maintenance is a journey, not destination, says SNSI

Sustainable world class performance begins with reliability and maintenance excellence, says THADALIL SANTHOSH, training and marketing officer of Bahrain-based Sarens Nass Smet Industries, a maker of high-capacity vacuum loading equipment

Reliability, availability, performance and quality are key performance indicators that determine operational excellence of activities where operations heavily rely on specialised equipment.

Operational losses for such businesses are caused by factors that contribute to availability, performance and quality losses.

A classical engineering approach defines reliability as: "The ability of an equipment to perform its desired functions under stated conditions for a specified period of time."

Bahrain-based Sarens Nass Smet Industries’ (SNSI) philosophy on achieving "reliability excellence" is to implement a methodology that combines effective leadership and a robust change management to support a foundational concept – "expanding traditional asset reliability, ensured through maintenance excellence, to include business and work process reliability and an empowered workforce of engaged employees".

Maintenance excellence is not just about the strategies or practices of the maintenance department. It is about the way the entire organisation uses all the means at its disposal to protect its equipment to provide value for its customers. It is a journey, not a destination – a process, not a service, says Thadalil Santhosh, SNSI’s training and marketing officer.

A leader in manufacturing high-capacity vacuum loading equipment, SNSI’s holistic approach to maintenance excellence helps valuable customers of the Fluid Vacuators (in local terminology The Super Sucker) achieve ideal operational process – No Breakdowns, No Small Stops or Slow Running, No Defects. In addition, a safe working environment with No Accidents, he says.

"Our approach emphasises on creating a shared responsibility (autonomous maintenance), proactive maintenance (planned preventive maintenance) to maximise the operational efficiency of equipment through focused continuous process improvements," says Santhosh.

Autonomous maintenance means placing the responsibility of routine maintenance, such as cleaning lubricating and inspection of the equipment in the hands of the operator.

Empowering the operator to take ownership of the equipment will help to identify emergent issues before they lead to equipment failures or breakdowns. It will also free maintenance personnel for higher- level tasks. In the right environment, this can be very effective in improving productivity (increasing up time, reducing cycle times, and eliminating defects), he explains.

Referring to equipment maintenance, he says SNSI’s approach blurs distinction between the roles of the operations and maintenance departments by placing strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.

"We strongly recommend planned preventive maintenance where all maintenance tasks are pre-planned, documented and scheduled to be completed before a breakdown occurs. It can be planned and scheduled (like getting your car serviced every six months), or planned and unscheduled (like planning to replace a lightbulb whenever it stops working)," says Santhosh.

Unlike corrective maintenance (run-to-failure maintenance), planned preventive maintenance makes tasks more efficient and eliminates the effect of maintenance on the operational process.

SNSI’s approach significantly reduces instances of downtime, enables most maintenance to be carried out at times when the equipment is not scheduled for operations. It also reduces spares inventory costs through better control of wear-prone and failure-prone parts.

Santhosh says another approach that SNSI recommends is focused continuous process improvement, also known as ‘Kaizen’ (in Japanese means "change for better").

There must be an ongoing effort to improve services or processes – incremental improvement over time or breakthrough improvement all at once – for achieving operational excellence.

"We recommend having small groups of employees work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements in equipment operations," he says.

This approach combines the collective talents of cross-functional employees where recurring problems are identified, logged and resolved thereby creating an engine for continuous improvements.

Operational excellence can be sustained by frequently measuring efficiency and effectiveness using key metrices and filling in knowledge gaps necessary to achieve operational goals/targets though employee coaching and development, he adds.

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