As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. This advice is not only health-related but is also true for the success of business management in any segment. Therefore, Maintenance Management is fundamental for a fine-tuned operation of companies in retail, hotels, public management, air conditioning, industries, and others.
What is maintenance management?
An efficient maintenance management team works like an orchestra – several skills need to be synchronized for the complete success of the operation. This team involves professionals from technical, administrative, financial, and technological fields. Together, all these areas are responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of an operation in a sustainable, optimized way.
In short, the objective of maintenance management is to control the allocation of costs, time, and resources to ensure the efficiency and adequacy of maintenance operations. This way, it is possible to put an end to resource wasting or defective equipment suddenly suffering from shutdowns – which, in many cases, could be avoided. Remember what we said at the beginning about prevention? Preventive maintenance is the ideal way to optimize company costs.
Think of the hospitality sector and how it never stops. Damage to structures can cause major problems. That’s why the information management regarding hotel equipment goes through several channels — from the receptionists, which have contact with customers, to the housekeepers, which frequently access the rooms and can check on the status of appliances and general structure. Preventive maintenance helps to avoid downtime or full unavailability of either rooms or appliances.
In retail, adequate equipment functioning directly impacts the success of sales and, thus, profits. Or do you think it would be possible to make sales, control stock and manage a shop without a sales system working at full steam? In a supermarket, what would be of the outlet if all the refrigerators were broken? Maintenance is fundamental.
Not to mention factories. Whether they produce clothes, food, or even cars, the most complex and expensive equipment is usually found in factories. And the more durable the equipment, the more healthy the market is, benefiting entrepreneurs and consumers – the former will profit more, and the latter will have access to products with higher quality and better prices.
The function of the maintenance team
To have a clearer picture, let’s picture two distinct scenarios.
At a given moment in a factory, the available technicians are charged with carrying out maintenance on non-essential equipment to production, whilst maintenance on essential equipment is placed on hold.
In another situation, several technicians are required to carry out maintenance on a single piece of equipment, whereas just one would be enough to solve the problem.
In both situations, we can see negative examples of maintenance management. In the first case, production can come to a stop due to an inappropriate allocation of technicians. In the second scenario, the allocation of the same maintenance work to several technicians results in an unnecessary loss of both time and money for the company.
Proper job scheduling and cost control are two of the main objectives of maintenance management. The manager must understand the process and needs of the company to know which maintenance work should they prioritise in order to cut losses to a minimum.
Likewise, you should always evaluate which options, costs-wise, are more viable for the company, either in the short or long term. An example of this can be the choice between the purchase of more expensive but longer-lasting equipment or a cheaper one, albeit with a shorter service life.
Another important part of a maintenance manager’s work is compliance with rules and regulations — returning to the previous example, it may be required by law that a particular maintenance job is carried out by more than one technician for safety reasons.
In this case, although the allocation of a single technician may, in theory, be sufficient and have a lower cost for the company, rules should always prevail and the maintenance manager is responsible for ensuring compliance.
The equipment’s complexity also calls for a dedicated and specialised technical professional. Someone who can assess possible issues and come up with quick solutions to avoid important equipment downtime.
Maintenance management goals
Besides all the functions already mentioned, one of the goals of maintenance management is to perform preventive maintenance to avoid unnecessary downtime in the production cycle. But what is the role of the maintenance team in this process?
Preventive maintenance aims to tackle any kind of grievous problem that could harm production. It isn’t a practice based on fixing equipment or solving problems — that would be corrective maintenance — but rather monitoring all equipment and ensuring its constant operation.
Some sectors demand constant preventive maintenance. The aviation sector, for example, cannot function without this work. Some other industries leave this work aside and prefer to deal with problems whenever they rise. The problem with this posture is that it can ramp up the costs and problems in the production cycle.
The first thing to do is to set up a team dedicated to this function. These professionals will be responsible for closely monitoring the machines and scheduling preventive maintenance actions. Normally, technicians in electronics, mechanics and mechatronics are trained to make up this team. The production engineer also plays an essential role in this process.
The more technical knowledge about the machinery functioning, the better. Sponsor constant training so that these professionals can detect possible problems, as well as the sort of maintenance needed to guarantee the full functioning of the equipment.
It is also important that the team in charge of preventive maintenance works on a calendar that affects production the least. Such spans are collective holidays or periods when production demands are fewer.
When done well, this can increase the life and performance of your equipment, whilst preventing serious financial damage.
Sustainability is another topic that has been increasingly discussed. A competent maintenance management team has the ability to work preventively to improve the durability of equipment, thus avoiding unnecessary and harmful disposals to the environment.
Advantages and benefits of maintenance management
In secondary industries, maintenance management is usually one of the most important areas of a company: production. This is where all the company’s products are made and, normally, where the largest investments are made — both in structure and in employees.
Because of this, the strategy outlined in maintenance has a direct impact on results and is even a competitive advantage in the market. The money needed to invest in preventive maintenance is usually much less than that needed for corrections and equipment replacement. And this difference in spending directly impacts the value of production, therefore impacting the products’ selling price.
Another advantage of efficient maintenance management is the reduction of failures rate. By diminishing errors, pre-established production schedules are more easily followed and in turn have a positive effect on profit generation.
Equipment that is well maintained also guarantees greater safety for the several teams, significantly reducing the risks related to accidents in factories.
Preventive maintenance’s value, however, is related to its correct application. If it is not well planned, the benefits and savings may not be perceived by the company’s management. For occasional machinery repairs that do not impact production, corrective maintenance can be more accessible. When it comes to critical equipment, though, it can mean a high loss of productivity, serious damage in the production cycle and considerable financial losses.
The importance of maintenance management
We already know how essential maintenance management is for the productivity of a company, cost optimization, and equipment preservation. Solving or predicting problems before they happen greatly reduces the time spent on repairs and the equipment’s downtime period. When well planned – i.e., done in advance and scheduled for less busy days – whether in commerce or industry, it can be done without any impact.
In addition, keeping an eye on maintenance helps to increase the lifetime of production equipment, the efficiency of these machines and also the production of higher quality products — or simpler work processes. Again: less unwarranted or unplanned expenditure.
However, the era of CMMS is over. Record systems whose sole function is to record and store information no longer meet the needs of managers and operational teams.
More than merely information repositories, teams that want to grow and keep up with the technological evolution of Maintenance 4.0 need solutions that transform the data collected into insights and automation with real impact on their operations, improving efficiency, reliability and service quality. All this is achieved by using technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
After presenting itself as the most integrated maintenance management platform on the market, Infraspeak has evolved to allow you to build your own platform — using apps, integrations and IoT — through the Infraspeak Hub™.
Today, Infraspeak takes you on a journey into a world of data, intelligence and automation.
Infraspeak Gear™ has arrived
Infraspeak Gear™ is the unique, intelligent engine at the heart of our — and yours! — maintenance management platform. It’s the brainiac that makes Infraspeak a truly intelligent platform, bringing together all the data generated by staff and operation, processing it intelligently to make your job easier with suggestions, alerts and task automation.
⚙️ Smart suggestions
Based on the learning that the platform does throughout its use, finding all kinds of patterns in the collected data, Infraspeak Gear™ is able to generate intelligent time-saving suggestions. For example, it can suggest specific suppliers, materials or equipment in association with a particular scheduled preventive work.
Another relevant example is the automatic exclusion of interventions that do not fit the asset in question when creating cyclical jobs.
⚙️ Task automation
Infraspeak Gear™ automates your workflows, and assigns work orders and tasks automatically, helping you optimise your resource allocation.
After creating a work order, Infraspeak Gear™ automatically assigns it to the technician(s) best suited for said interventions.
Smart cues and automation don’t tell the whole story, though. Infraspeak Gear™ can further enhance your operational control with intelligent alerts based on the identification of abnormalities.
We show you an Infraspeak Gear™ alert in the asset list – several are flagged with an Infraspeak Gear™ icon, alerting you to the fact that they do not yet have a preventive maintenance plan associated with when it would be recommended to do so. It is possible to quickly associate a plan, directly from the alert.
Now imagine that one of your technicians forgets to pause the job and that, as a result, the recorded labour lasts longer than expected. The Infraspeak Gear™ alert prevents you from billing the job incorrectly.
With automatic suggestions, it has become much easier to enter data into the system. Infraspeak Gear™ looks for exceptionalities at several different data points. The goal is to detect things that are out of the norm, that are different from what is supposed, whether in technical or operational data. For example: ‘this user takes three times longer to complete this task when compared to the rest of the team’. Of course, this can happen due to a number of factors, but just the fact that we can detect and inform the manager that there might be a problem there is already critical.
Luís Martins, Founder & VP of Product at Infraspeak
Get ready for the future of intelligent maintenance!
Smart maintenance is here to stay, and Infraspeak is your gateway. Talk to one of our experts and get ready to take your operation into the future of smart maintenance. Find out more on the official Infraspeak Gear™ page.