Interflon | What is a maintenance plan?

Learn how to save your company thousands with this critical document.

What is a maintenance plan?

A maintenance plan is a proactive set of guidelines that details how assets are to be cared for. Assets, in this context, means any piece of equipment or machinery that is used in your business. The more expensive the asset, or the more critical it is to your business, the more important a maintenance plan becomes. Because lubrication is the most important part of proactive maintenance, if this asset contains any moving pieces, then your maintenance plan must include a lubrication schedule. In fact, it’s possible to say that your lubrication schedule is the most important part of your maintenance plan.

Your plan should exist in formal document form, not just on a couple of notes pinned to your office bulletin board. We recommend keeping it in the cloud as an electronic document in order to make version control easier. You don’t want outdated versions of a maintenance plan (or any other mission-critical document) floating around. It should be easily accessible to all team members. It should be required reading for new hires, and it should be re-read on an annual basis by everyone on a team.

The key word to describe this plan is proactive. This is a general term that describes addressing problems before they happen. This is accomplished by identifying conditions from which problems may arise in the future, thereby eliminating or decreasing the likelihood of those problems occurring.

How is a maintenance plan compatible with predictive maintenance?

As a reminder, there are three types of maintenance:

  1. Reactive: dealing with something when it breaks (such as never putting oil in your car, then simply buying a new car when the engine seizes).
  2. Preventive: providing reguarly scheduled maintenance whether an asset needs it or not (such as changing the oil in your car every 3 months, regardless of how much driving you do).
  3. Predictive: measuring performance and lubrication levels in an asset, such as in bearings, and deciding how much lubrication or other maintenance is required at that time. (Checking the oil, assessing how much life it has left, factoring in what kind of driving you’re going to be doing in the coming weeks, and deciding whether to replace it now or wait another interval.)

Obviously, #1 is the least desirable outcome. While not as bad, #2 presents its own set of problems, because it can lead to unnecessary expenses in both time and materials. What if your car simply doesn’t need an oil change after three months? Wouldn’t it be better to keep an eye on it and change the oil when it needs it?

This is the essence of #3. We at Interflon firmly believe that the best kind of maintenance is predictive maintenance (PdM). We recognize that a 100% predictive maintenance (PdM) plan exists only in a perfect world. Teams may be short-staffed; you might be putting out five fires at once; or you simply may not be able to carry out accurate assessments of asset performance for various reasons. However, over the longer term, PdM saves time and money, freeing you or your team up to deal with more pressing matters.

If your maintenance plan doesn’t cover lubrication, you don’t have a maintenance plan!

One of the most effective methods of PdM involves using special tools, such as the Adash Vibrio, to measure sound and vibration from a bearing or other component. The Vibrio can provide immediate feedback and let you know when you’ve added enough grease to your bearing, for example.

Learn more about the Vibrio and other Adash products in this video.

Who is in charge of creating a maintenance plan?

The responsibility for this may vary from organization to organization. However, ask yourself this question: if a machine breaks down and has to be replaced, who will be called on the carpet for it? The answer to that question is also who should be in charge of the maintenance plan. We recommend that this individual work in conjunction with the head of the team that will be carrying out the plan to develop it.

When and how is it used?

A maintenance plan would ideally be synchronized with an automated system, such as a computer calendar, to send out reminders to the appropriate staff members. This could be as simple as creating a recurring event in your calendar that says ‘Check maintenance plan for X machine.’ If your plan is cloud-based, you can include a link in this reminder so you can be taken to it with a single click. Set the reminder to fire weekly, monthly, or whatever interval your plan’s creator has determined is required. That way, there can be no mistakes and no excuses.

What should it cover?

Use a priority index. Focus on the most valuable assets first, then flow down from there. In larger organizations, a single plan can cover multiple units of the same kind of machine.

We already have a maintenance plan, but how can I make it more effective?

  • Make sure it is cloud-based, and everyone knows where to find it. Your maintenance plan should not be a state secret.
  • Focus on usability of assets. Are they functioning optimally? If so, your plan is working. If not--for example, if the asset is constantly in need of repair--then it needs to be revisited.
  • Make sure your plan is agile. Teams need to be ready to respond instantly to emergencies, as well as to rapid changes in priorities.
  • Don’t rely solely on the manual that came with your equipment! Your use case may be different from what the manual’s writers may have envisions. You need an individualized plan.

I want a maintenance plan, but I don’t know where to start.

Interflon USA’s Technical Advisors are experts in lubrication and predictive maintenance. We’re only too happy to consult with you to help you come up with a plan to protect your assets and minimize losses due to downtime. Spending a little now on premium lubrication products can save you many thousands of dollars over a short time. Just check out some of our case studies to learn more about that. [link] Remember, Interflon is just a phone call away!