Every business, irrespective of the size, needs physical/hardware resources or equipment to function properly. These physical resources can be in the form of buildings, offices, computers, machines, tools, vehicles and so on. These physical resources are generally referred to as facilities or physical assets.
The facilities play vital roles in the daily running of the business, such as: providing comfortable location and space for conduct of business activities; processing of raw material to finished products; packaging and storage of products; and distribution of products to consumers. Managing the business effectively becomes a challenge when these facilities fail to perform their required functions, sometimes the failures can lead to a complete shutdown of business activities.
These physical resources or facilities fail to perform their required functions due to damages or sudden breakdowns. Sudden breakdown of facilities/equipment is usually a result of lack of maintenance: That is, no adequate care of these equipment, which involves cleaning, inspecting, servicing and repairing the facilities in due to time to avoid breakdowns. This is where facility maintenance as a business support function comes in.
Facility maintenance as a business support function is the deployment of people and processes to keep facilities running smoothly with the objective of minimizing business downtime. In the case of production/manufacturing systems, effective facility maintenance enables the system to operate at the designed capacity thereby acting as a lever to maximize profit.
In the absence of a well-structured maintenance management process/system, the business is characterized with frequent breakdown of facilities which leads to high repair costs, loss of revenues and reduction of profits.
To set up a functional facility maintenance outfit you will need the following resources and tools:
People: The facility maintenance outfit should be resourced with well trained and certified personnel (engineers and technicians) that will carry out the scheduled inspection, servicing and repair activities on the equipment in an efficient and safe manner.
Equipment database: The list of all the equipment owned by the business should be listed in a database or register; this is also referred to as the asset register. While putting the register together, the equipment should be categorized in order of importance or criticality to the business to enable proper prioritization and scheduling of the required maintenance activities to minimize disruption to business.
Maintenance Management System: For small business units with few facilities, a spreadsheet for scheduling, tracking and monitoring of maintenance activity cycles and job cards for each equipment can serve the purpose. For business units with high number of facilities, a software, also known as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), can be deployed to enable effective management of the physical assets/facilities, scheduling of the maintenance activities and tracking of the work orders or job cards raised for each equipment.
Tools: In addition to the computerized maintenance management system, the following tools should be provided:
- Specialized toolboxes for the various maintenance disciplines such as Electrical, Mechanical, Instrumentations & Controls, Welding works etc. Sometimes, depending on the type of equipment to be repaired, heavy tools such as high press drilling machines, lathe machines etc. can be provided.
- Workshop that provides a space for carrying out repair works and housing of the heavy/specialized tools.
- Servicing and inspection procedures for the various equipment in line with manufacturers’ recommended practice.
- Suitable storage facility for storing of spare parts.
- Spare parts that can be quickly installed in the event of imminent failure to avoid unplanned down time.
Funding and management support: Management support/commitment and availability of funds for taking care of maintenance related expenses are critical to running an effective maintenance outfit.
Please do watch this space for more interesting articles on facility maintenance.
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