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From an expense to a productivity driver – how to ensure the future success of maintenance?

Kuluerästä tuottavuustekijäksi – miten varmistaa kunnossapidon menestys myös tulevaisuudessa?Maintenance is an expense that only incurs costs. Does this sound familiar? We have heard this argument many times. However, we believe that the role of maintenance as a success factor for an industrial company is undeniable. 

Maintenance is the cornerstone of a successful manufacturing plant

Effective and efficient maintenance keeps the company’s production equipment running and production on track to meet its targets. When production targets are met, the business thrives and becomes more competitive. Maintenance, therefore, has a direct impact on the efficiency, quality and security of supply of a company. It even impacts customer satisfaction.

Why is it then often difficult to justify investment in maintenance development, when the impact is so significant? We believe that the reason for this lies largely in the fact that achieving results and making them visible requires patience and constant commitment. 

Maintenance development is an endurance sport where quick wins are certainly possible, but often the results are seen over a 2–3-year time horizon. An actively used maintenance management system is a key tool for monitoring change and verifying return on investment.

So how do you justify that it is worth investing in maintenance right now? We believe that the recipe for success is to create a solid and systematic basis for measuring and proving success in the future. For example, you can start with a baseline analysis. A baseline survey provides a clear picture of the current state of maintenance, and helps identify the strengths of the operation and the areas for further development in the longer term.

Maintenance performance metrics are a helpful tool on the road to world-class maintenance. Well-chosen KPIs ensure that measures are directed towards the set objectives. Maintenance metrics guide activities in a planned way, and optimally, guide employees to act in their daily lives in support of long-term goals.

→ Read more: Maintenance metrics as a tool for knowledge management

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a long-term strategy for the development of maintenance. This introduces confidence in your organization that maintenance is planned, and that its success has a direct impact on the success of the business.
  2. Define the KPIs that are most relevant to your organization. Metrics allow you to verify the baseline, and show that progress is being made.
  3. Benchmark your competitors. What makes the best in your industry different from the rest?
  4. Make sure that the system in place supports both daily maintenance and long-term planning.
  5. Don’t give up. Sometimes proving results is a long process. Trust your actions or get external help.

A maintenance organization needs different roles and responsibilities to succeed

The core of efficient and effective maintenance is the company’s own maintenance and service staff, production staff, and any maintenance subcontractors. Carefully defined roles and responsibilities support the company’s strategy and success, and help people perform in line with the objectives and expectations set for them.

Different tasks require different skills, and the right roles allow each team member to focus on their strengths and the tasks they do best. Clear roles, for example in work management and work planning, ensure the smoothest daily workflow in maintenance, and significantly improve the overall efficiency of the maintenance organization. It will also improve cost-effectiveness through the elimination of waste.

→ Read more about the roles and responsibilities of maintenance: How to turn maintenance data into added value for business and decision-making

Finally, optimizing maintenance and developing skills are key objectives for any successful and competitive organization. Despite its stubborn reputation, maintenance is not a stand-alone support activity, but when properly organized and managed, directly supports the company’s business. 

Read more:

Blog: Maintenance work planning progresses from minimum plans to overall plans
Blog: What is preventive maintenance?
Guide: 6 important maintenance metrics

Ville Vilhu

Ville Vilhu

At Pinja, I’m responsible for the maintenance service products and the development and operations of the related expert services. In my free time, I like to spend time in the nature on foot and on boat.

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