How to handle challenges in the maintenance department

The maintenance department plays an important part in every industry. But, it is also a job that never knows a dull moment. Unexpected events will often reset your planning.  Discover 5 maintenance challenges and how to handle them.

With that, there are maintenance challenges lurking around every corner. So, it is time to face those challenges and find the best ways to deal with them.

But where do you start?

You could start by looking at the previous month.  Where you spend the most time or money; determines the key area you need to focus on. This will help you to take the first tangible steps to better deal with challenges that come your way.

We have listed 5 challenges, and their possible solutions, to help you with this process. 

1. Unplanned maintenance

As a maintenance manager you must deal with unexpected breakdowns. Unplanned downtime is often caused by an avoidable failure of equipment. Unplanned maintenance causes every day utility failures. Most maintenance managers also report struggles with unscheduled maintenance. In this case the planned service is not yet scheduled for a specific time, task or technician.

Both can occur when you least expect it. When you are knee-deep in these situations, the quickest action to take is to solve these problems. We call this reactive maintenance where you react to the failure of the equipment. But why does this same situation keep repeating itself?

You should be thinking about maximizing the utilization of your operational assets. Scheduling preventive maintenance is the best solution to avoid recurring emergency situations. The main goal is to prevent risks in your operations. As a result:

  • Your equipment will be more reliable.
  • Your chances of failure of your assets will decrease.

There are options to use software that helps you schedule maintenance. This works by tracking previous maintenance and usage of the equipment.

Solution: Implement a preventive maintenance strategy

2. Contingency management

Be always prepared for unplanned equipment failure. A contingency plan helps to handle these breakdowns in the most efficient way.  It is designed to resume your operations after an emergency breakdown.  A good contingency plan also handles a fluctuation in demand.

Where to start?

  1. First you need to identify the main risks and appropriate responses in different scenarios. Start by making a list of the risks that can have an impact on your operations.
  2. Next, rank the most important risks. Those are the ones that are most likely to happen or that can cause extensive damage when they occur.

After you have prioritized your risks, you can start to develop a contingency plan.

  • The plan should include the main trigger that sets the plan in motion.
  • It should also state the preferred immediate response.
  • Furthermore, it also states who needs to be involved and informed when this happens.

Upon completion, you should get your contingency plan approved. Once approved, make sure to distribute the plan to all involved parties. It is recommended to check its effectiveness in the long term. A good executed contingency plan will save you time and money.

So what should you do in case of an emergency?

Implementing a preventive maintenance strategy is as important as developing a contingency plan. However you can never 100% avoid emergencies. So what should you do in case of an emergency?
  • Always put safety first.
  • Then start by inspecting the problem to find out what caused the breakdown.
  • If someone in your team can solve the problem, then start repairing the equipment. You can also hire an external team to handle the reparations.
  • If the equipment downtime is impacting your operation, consider hiring a temporary unit.
  • If repairing the equipment is not possible, you should replace the piece of equipment. Do this by renting or buying a new piece of equipment. 

Solution: Develop a contingency plan