From an early age, teachers urge their students to “show, not tell.” That advice proves crucial throughout life and across many professions, including business management. When explaining the need to invest in better maintenance and reliability practices, operations stakeholders often find it challenging to justify those investments to executives. But when they have ample data available as it relates to their specific equipment and their industry in general, maintenance professionals find it much easier to show their leadership why proactive maintenance pays off, with the facts and figures to support them.
Gathering Internal Data
The first step toward proving the effectiveness of a maintenance program is knowing from where one is starting. Without a baseline record of how assets are performing under a “normal” situation, there’s no way to know if new maintenance efforts are making any difference. Power Magazine reported that more utility providers are working to improve their data capture efforts with these two goals in mind: measuring baseline performance and comparing maintenance tactics against each other to find which works best. That requires more data gathered at all levels of the operation, from the assets themselves to technicians in the field and the end-user. Whether it’s for a power plant, a manufacturing facility or any other asset-dependent business, there’s no way to manage what isn’t being measured.
Going Beyond Baseline
With a better understanding of in-house performance, plant managers can then strengthen their understanding by comparing internal data against industry benchmarks. This can be done easily using well-known analysis methods. One of the most common is Overall Equipment Effectiveness. As explained by American Machinist, OEE is determined by gathering and multiplying three key performance indicators for a given piece of equipment:
- Availability, or how often the asset is able to complete its work under a normal operation schedule.
- Performance, or the efficiency of the asset’s output given its theoretical maximum output.
- Quality, or the rate at which the asset outputs usable product (energy, parts, etc.) per total hours of operation.
With the OEE recorded and analyzed, managers can then compare it against reference values, or use it as a benchmark to track future progress. The ultimate result of these efforts is a comprehensive report on what an organization is gaining from a certain maintenance plan and how exactly it could improve. Collecting these insights is an invaluable part of helping executives see eye-to-eye on critical asset investment needs and concerns.
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