How do you apply continuous improvement to maintenance?

The old saying, “there’s always room for improvement,” is spot on when it comes to maintenance processes. If you’re running a maintenance team and not focused on continuous improvement each and every day, it won’t be long before you’ll be wasting a significant amount of time and money.

Fortunately, today’s CMMS can provide maintenance managers with plenty of useful data to help implement improvements on a continual basis. It’s a cycle of reporting accurate information, running proven tests, making smarter decisions, and rechecking the results. Rinse and repeat.

Here are some key steps to improve your continuous improvement process:

Set Objectives

Maintenance managers should meet with the executive team to understand the overall mission of the company or organization and then come to an agreement on the top priorities for areas of maintenance improvement. It’s important that particular goals have clearly stated key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you can easily measure progress against them.

Focus on Top Processes or Products

It’s ineffective to try to improve too many things at one time. Once you’ve established your objectives and KPIs, narrow down the particular product lines or processes that will make the largest impact. Scale your continuous improvement projects to the amount of resources you have available for the endeavor. Then conduct a complete analysis of those products or processes to discover weak links or failure modes.

Create Maintenance Strategies

The most important next step is to conduct a cost analysis for the product or process in question. Ideally, you’ve selected an area of improvement that is critical to your daily work. Investing in preventive and predictive maintenance makes the most sense on critical, expensive equipment. If you can avoid hours of downtime by preventing failures, you will recoup significant savings in the long run.

Assess and Repeat

Once you’ve selected a targeted area, implement your continuous improvement changes in one area while holding a control group to measure the results. If objectives are met, implement changes across all relevant areas and set new objectives. If they are not met, consider whether changes need to be adjusted to obtain improvement or whether the costs are too high to warrant further investment.