To understand the importance of preventive maintenance (PM) in a metal fabrication shop, all you have to do is imagine a shop without a preventive maintenance program.
A Shop in Disarray
Picture a shop where equipment is in a constant state of disrepair, production is unpredictable, and daily failures are a part of the norm. Raw materials are wasted, production is inefficient, and even safety could be at risk. Because equipment isn’t properly maintained, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce quality pieces consistently. The fact that the shop is operating with poorly maintained equipment spills over to other areas like shop cleanliness and employee morale. It can soon feel like everyday is swimming upstream.
vs. a Well – Maintened Shop
Now, imagine a metal fabrication shop that has a well-thought out, well-planned and properly executed maintenance plan. Each piece of equipment is kept clean and routinely inspected. Tools and parts are kept where they are expected to be and there is always an inventory of critical, production-stopping parts and supplies on hand. Imagine when there is a small problem, it is quickly noted and corrected. Visualize a shop where, not only is the equipment well-maintained, but there are plans in place for long-term capital improvements based on equipment age and predicted lifespan. This is a shop that is under control and in a much better position to be competitive.
Benefits to Proactive PM Practices
There are significant benefits of a having a metal fabrication shop that employs proactive preventative maintenance practices.
- Minimized downtime
- Keeps overall maintenance costs lower
- Extends the life of equipment
- Improves production quality
- Maximizes efficiency
- Preserves safety and integrity of equipment
- Allows better flexibility for scheduled, routine maintenance
- Builds morale and productivity
- Provides a better atmosphere for outside tours and prospect visits
- Can improve recruiting
There are hundreds of points of potential failure in a metal fabrication shop. Spatter build up, power source failures, wire feeders and simple wear and tear can all cause issues. You may feel helpless to prevent them all, but it is far worse to let them get ahead of you.
You Can’t Afford Not to do PM
Some metal fabrication shops may not feel like they can “afford” a proactive maintenance program. The reality is, even lean manufacturing practices embrace efficient maintenance programs. In fact, lean manufacturing, preventative maintenance is considered a critical part of asset maintenance. The better equipment is maintained, the better it will serve you. It just makes good business sense. It is also a much less stressful way to operate a shop.
Start with a Simple Plan
If you are struggling to get ahead of maintenance issues, make it one of your goals and work toward implementing even a simple plan. Involve your production, quality control, management and maintenance teams and take an honest look at where you are and where you would like to be. You may not be able to quickly address every issue you face but starting is a good place to begin! You have the power to get your maintenance program headed in the right direction. You just need to choose the path.