The importance of plant maintenance

Plant maintenance can be defined as a particular set of activities that are required to maintain equipment, machinery and parts so as to minimise downtime and failures. The tension with plant maintenance is to achieve the best possible uptime (e.g. fewest stoppages) for the lowest cost.

Ultimately, operations that lack or have poorly executed plant maintenance bear the cost to both efficiency of productivity and their bottom line.

What is the biggest challenge operations face with plant maintenance?

The most critical aspect of plant maintenance centres around cost control. Because of the complexity and activities performed in plant facilities, maintenance can be a significant contribution to an operation’s annual budget. One of the best strategies to control cost is by implementing proactive, rather than reactive maintenance plans. Other highly important factors to consider are:

  • Personnel
    • Managing staff with the necessary skillsets required to work in facilities come with the challenges of recruiting, training and retaining them.
  • Leadership
    • In order to be effective, the operation needs to have strategic leadership that will plan and develop continuously.
  • Logistics
    • The operation must be concerned with how items critical to maintenance are sourced and supplied.
  • Technology & Software
    • Predictive analytics and forecasting have emerged as a primary concern for developing a proactive maintenance strategy, as opposed to reactive repairs and exchanges.
  • Operational processes
    • A defined process does not dictate efficiency. Determining how a process should best take place, and reviewing its effectiveness is key.

Do plant maintenance activities look different from site-to-site?

Plant maintenance activities stay relatively the same with little differentiation from one site to another. However, the scale complexity and the actual environment in which maintenance activities occur can differ vastly.

What are some of the most important metrics to measure?

There are several important metrics that operations tend to focus upon as part of measuring their maintenance strategy effectiveness. Some of these maintenance metrics are;

Planned Maintenance Percentage

This is essentially a ratio between scheduled and unplanned maintenance downtime. This particular metric highlights how much planned maintenance work was associated with an asset as defined by your maintenance strategy, versus unplanned repairs due to a failure.

Effective plant maintenance - reduce downtime and increase productivity

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

This metric looks at how an individual equipment asset is performing in isolation. The productivity of the asset is an effective measure of the operations processes based on factors such as quality, performance and availability of the asset.

Mean time to repair

This is an average of how long it takes pieces of equipment or asset to be repaired (either due to planned or unplanned downtime). Mean time to repair does not simply account for the actual repair time itself, but testing and return to normal operation periods as well. The lower your mean time to repair, the more efficient the operation is running.

Mean time between failure

This metric is concerned with understanding the time between the last equipment failure, to the next one. This is essentially the predicted lifespan of a piece of equipment.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about how to utilise plant maintenance in your operations? Contact us to find out how we’ve assisted mining companies to proactively manage their unique maintenance requirements.

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