There’s a new breed of maintenance engineers who are steering away from FAT (Fear and Tradition) driven maintenance and implementing genuine lean maintenance management.

With lean maintenance, the value chain is reversed. Instead of the maintenance plan being finance driven, the finance plan is reliability driven.  The maintenance function makes the journey from fire fighter to professional maintenance management, delivering optimised maintenance effectiveness (reliability divided by the cost) by fully exploiting the captured technical intelligence.

The results:  Improved productivity, increased plant reliability, less maintenance windows, zero based maintenance plans, reduced inventories and real-time integration between the maintenance plan, the production schedule and the budget. Lean maintenance will deliver a maintenance system that is:

  • Fit for the business: reliability, safety and compliance
  • Lowest delivered cost (Maintenance effectiveness)
  • Quantifies the true cost of maintenance
  • Provides zero based plans in real time: budget, stores, manning and shutdowns
  • Connected to the production planning
  • Owns and leverages the intelligence
  • Scalable (up or down) to reflect the process needs.

What does your business need? More plant availability? More (or less) throughput? Lower maintenance cost? Smaller or removed maintenance windows? Greater compliance confidence? What could the business aspire to if the maintenance function can deliver the unimaginable?

If your operation displays any one of the following characteristics:

  • The maintenance budget is derived from last year +– X%
  • The maintenance budget is cut in the fourth quarter.
  • The maintenance budget is used for non-maintenance tasks.
  • Maintenance is reactive.
  • There is no captured institutionalised knowledge.
  • PM Routines are 1st generation feel good, fixed duration. Check, check, check.
  • Spares and manning are based on tradition rather than operational science

Your reality is you are running FAT maintenance.

The advice to engineers uncomfortable with their state of play and constrained by the current FAT rulers is “Kick down the CEO’s door”. Ask him what he needs from the operation to achieve his business goals. Assure him you can deliver. And then ask him for the tools to do the job.

There are pitfalls in the process, the most common being the corporate organisations thinking that proactive maintenance will be reached by putting a computerised maintenance management system (cmms) on the engineer’s desk, or worse still, plugging in an offshoot of their financial system. The cmms is just the tool. It is nothing without the maintenance management conceptual understanding and an engineering driven development plan to build the technical competence, technical confidence, scheduling processes and cultural change.

Lean maintenance cannot be achieved overnight, in fact experience shows it is a minimum 2-year journey from firefighting to maintenance excellence and from there to Lean Maintenance. The journey is a transition from being technical experts to being expert process managers.

Businesses getting it right and implementing lean maintenance are discovering the competitive advantages of having less maintenance windows, better plant reliability and lower maintenance cost. A number of primary industry companies are awakening to this paradigm and striving to catch up. Some will succeed, some will fail. Whether local or international competition, the business that see’s maintenance as a cost and fails to evolve their maintenance management at the same rate as their process will put themselves at risk of becoming the next dinosaur.