12 February, 2017
Let’s face it: Not every facility is the same. While the concept of preventive maintenance may seem pretty cut-and-dried for the layman, in reality, it can be pretty complex and open to interpretation based upon the type of facility you are in charge of. With that in mind, sometimes, it is a good idea to tour other factories and buildings to get a sense of what other companies are doing and maybe take a few of their tricks back to your department. You never know: You may just learn a thing or two!
All around the globe, factories and warehouses are brimming with reliability professionals, all after the same goal: keeping their business up and running and trying to make their department a profit center instead of a resource drain. Companies can live and die based on their preventative and proactive maintenance plans; production errors, too much downtime, and workplace injuries can be more disastrous to a company than bad PR or a poor sales quarter.
Fortunately, there are industry leaders to look at and study worldwide to see what their maintenance managers are doing to help keep things on track. For instance, food facilities have to put an extra focus on handling and preparation procedures as well as food safety protocols, whereas a chemical manufacturer may emphasize work safety and spill prevention.
In reality, all facilities need to worry about core issues: reducing downtime, keeping grounds safe for workers and customers, increasing production, properly managing assets, and efficiently managing machine or equipment maintenance.
Hershey is a great example of a large company that you can learn a thing or two from in terms of managing a facility. One of the largest chocolate providers in the world, Hershey produces a large array of edible goods, each requiring its own set of custom molds and production processes. Chocolate goes through heating and cooling steps to ensure that your candy bar arrives not only delicious but with a certain consistency and appearance as well. Because of this, keeping the assembly line flowing is pivotal; any shutdown can result in ruined batches of candy and a significant loss of profits.
Cross-contamination is another concern for food manufacturers. Chocolate producers, such as Cadbury, whose main production facility lies in Bournville, England, must be careful to ensure that plain chocolate products do not accidentally take on peanut dust during manufacture, as consumers with nut allergies could be negatively affected. Strict quality standards must be in place to ensure that this delicious but hazardous breach does not occur!
Boeing may not be in the food business, but they can certainly teach us a thing or two about the importance of eliminating downtime or, at the very least, responding to emergencies rapidly. Across the globe, thousands of airplanes are preparing to take off at any moment. Some carry passengers, while others carry cargo, but at the end of the day, any delay in operation can cost a business thousands of dollars per minute. With that in mind, Boeing not only needs to produce quality parts and machinery but respond rapidly when a vendor needs an emergency part to get their plane up and running again. Having a supply network in place to handle incidents such as this is crucial to a company like Boeing and possibly to your own business as well.
Meanwhile, Dow Chemical is a producer of many household products that we use in the home and office everyday. By the very nature of their business, their employees must deal with potentially hazardous chemicals night and day (the word is even in their name, folks). When spills happen, it isn’t just a matter of lost profit, but it can be a safety hazard as well. Having procedures in place and training employees on proper materials handling and cleanup is of utmost importance to a company like Dow. Managing safety gear and keeping up to date with the latest compliance standards are equally important, and you can bet your last dollar that Dow Chemical maintenance pros have a top-notch system in place to keep track of these things.
So next time you are visiting a new city or are away on travel, consider taking a tour of a local factory or manufacturer. Let the company know you are “in the biz” and maybe they will give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how they keep their organization in tip-top shape. Maybe you can bring something back to your own facility to make your maintenance processes even better!