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Tips Maintenance Response Times-How To Increase Efficiency - Maintenance Cruz

Updated on May 23, 2015

It Took Too Long

It took your tech two hours to change that motor out last night, you need to talk to him. I have seen that one a hundred times and sometimes you need to talk with tech and other times you need to ask yourself if you've done everything you can to help your techs. When you investigate, many times you find out that the tech's actual hands on time was well within acceptable limits but, there was unacceptable time wasted somewhere else.

One of the most common time consumers that generally gets pinned on maintenance is the time spent by the operator trying to make a broken machine work. The production people need to make maintenance aware of anything out of the ordinary immediately. This becomes annoying with so many calls to maintenance but, maintenance doesn't have to respond to every call either. What I mean is that if there is a known issue or something that maintenance recognizes they can inform the caller that it is known. Responding to the bulk of the calls is important though as maintenance personnel can identify issues that operators can not.


Get A Head Start

Getting a jump on issues is a huge time saver and a must if you want to see significant improvements in your system. Your tech responds to a call and finds the operator already at work trying adjustments to make it run but, the technician recognizes a problem and stops the useless time wasted trying adjustments. Another scenario is where the tech recognizes that something needs repair and now has some time to gather tools, parts, and make a plan to address the problem. The production people can make a plan at this point and everything can go much smoother and orderly thereby saving a lot of time.

A huge time waster is the search for tools and or parts to perform a repair. I have seen very well put together parts inventories where items are pretty easy to find except, that they are on the far side of the plant or on the second floor. This one has always perplexed me because to me it is a no brainer, put the parts and the specialty tools as close as possible to the specific machines. I have set up factories in this fashion and it works very very well. I get push back from production, management, and even maintenance when I propose this system. Production and management generally argue that they do not have the room to spare but, you will pass the same empty spaces every single day and nothing ever goes there. Maintenance, particularly planners, say that it makes inventory more difficult, I say I would rather eat some more time counting parts then counting downtime hours.

Location, Location, Location

I have strategically placed lockable cabinets in out of the way places as close to the target machines as possible without interfering with production. The tech needs a proximity sensor and this is the only machine that uses that particular type sensor, so what is the point of lumping these sensors together with other sensors in a bin on the other side of the plant. The tech takes two minutes getting to the location, five minutes diagnosing, three minutes to lock the machine, two minutes opening the cabinet and locating the sensor, ten minutes changing the sensor, and five minutes for unlock and restart. Takes twenty seven minutes which could be better but, is totally reasonable. If he has to head back to the shop for parts after diagnosing add anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour.I have seen techs looking high and low for parts that were right in front of their eyes and techs that get side tracked somewhere between the shop and the repair site.

When you reduce the area where the parts for a particular machine could be, you increase the location time greatly and if the cabinet is neatly organized all the better. You couple that with an organized cabinet that remains stocked in very close proximity, you have effectively cut the downtime in half or better, no brainer.

Train Yourself, Train Your Trainer, Train Your Team

The last best tip I have for you to reduce downtime is training but, special training. There always seem to be a person who is the guru of a specific machine or system. This guru is to give troubleshooting classes to all the other techs and you too. You must extract information like this and get it shared as well as troubleshooting documents. When the guru retires, quits, or otherwise leaves, then who is the guru when this unit goes down. You must not only capture this information through training, you need it for posterity in the form of documents. By starting this training and having your techs write troubleshooting manuals specific to your machines and your processes you will have a library specific to your machines. There will be certain things you do at your plant with your machines that the others that use this machine do not or that even the factory techs don't do.

You can not let this information just float out in space somewhere, you need to capture it right away. The guru is on vacation and his special system crashes hard and he is not answering his phone, are we going to wait for him to get back from vacation or worse take a shot in the dark and really break something. Oh you're in luck, you have been having monthly or weekly training sessions and a tech jumps in and says he knows what to do, he remembers the sequence and has his troubleshooting manual.

What Else Can I Do?

There are many more ways a manager can help his team to excel and reduce downtime. The previously discussed are the hard hitters and will greatly improve the overall maintenance operation from many standpoints other than just uptime. Ask yourself how frustrated you would be having to go all the way back to the shop to dig for parts and then getting sidetracked by another problem, instant stress. You have been called to a machine that you have no training and all you can tell the production manager is that you don't know what is wrong, demeaning. You keep getting asked how long this going to take and you have to say I'm not sure cause I can't find the parts, deflating.

When you give your techs all the advantages, they will perform and perform quickly. The training will improve diagnosis accuracy and time, perpetuating proper repairs. All of this adds up to reduce downtime and increase efficiency but, you would be surprised at how seldom you see this setup in maintenance departments. I really do not understand it and push to change it. Most maintenance areas are relatively small in comparison to the area they really need. Imagine seventy five percent of your parts inventory suddenly stored somewhere else, what could you do with that space?

If you look at procedures and processes your techs must go through to perform their jobs you will find many ways to reduce time. Every time those heaters go out the tech must remake the entire wiring loom, maybe a spare loom can be made up during slow hours. A tech grabs the pre-made loom from the parts cabinet at the end of the machine and is done in half the time, what is that worth. You can also make up kits for regular operations such as pump rebuilds or reseals. Every four months one of the pumps is going to start leaking and you will need specific parts, sealants, tools. In the kit is all the rebuild parts and sealants required. In the other box are all the required tools for the operation as well as a laminated rebuild procedure with do's and don'ts highlighted in red and an exploded view print. Do not unbolt these bolts or this pump will have to be changed out! That could be a very valuable piece of information to have at the repair site before a tech starts ripping into the expensive pump.

The Stage Is Set

I am a strong proponent of staging jobs and getting prepared long before a scheduled job is to begin. Going through all the parts required to perform a job as well as tools required will really help from getting stuck in the middle of something. Nothing worse than tearing down a piece of equipment to find that you are missing a crucial part or you only had one o-ring and it has been damaged. Not all but, a lot of unexpected problems can be avoided through being prepared early, very early. I also save a lot of time by getting set up and staged the day before a big job, try to eliminate a bunch of setup and tool toting the day of the job. It is amazing how much better it is to have your crew show up and go straight to work on the problem instead of looking for stuff. The machine is down to the parts that need to be replace much quicker and any surprises surface sooner giving you time to come up with a plan or go purchase parts to make this job happen. You may still get done on time where if you spent two hours in the morning getting ready you may be too late to get parts and the situation goes to critical in a heartbeat.

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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, these are excellent recommendations all in line with the 5 S solutions of Total Quality Management. You're sharing techniques that have been around for 40 years, but many people still don't know them. Great!

    • TechCheck profile image
      Author

      TechCheck 4 years ago from Western US

      Guess I really should study the 5S methodology. I know that companies that I've worked for use or at least brag about 5S. I actually have no training with 5S or lean and have just managed my way.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Lean methods are very advanced, and assume TQM is already in place. I've written a book that may help. I think you'd find a lot of value in reading my book, Quality Management Demystified. Feel free to check out my hubs and keep in touch.

    • TechCheck profile image
      Author

      TechCheck 4 years ago from Western US

      I think reading your book may be a good idea too.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      If you like it, drop me a line!

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