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The 4 pillars for implementing maintenance

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

This article is particularly aimed at small manufacturing companies wishing to develop an industrial maintenance strategy. It is first of all important to specify that maintenance is an extremely important concept which, while being developed, will affect all the departments of your company. Maintenance should be seen as a long term investment.

You will find below the 4 pillars to start a maintenance strategy on solid foundations.


1. Create precise and consistent instructions

2. Deal with all breakdowns

3. Include maintenance in the culture of your company

4. Measure maintenance costs

1. Create precise and consistent instructions

Instructions are the heart of the system. Too often ignored, maintenance instructions are the key to good maintenance.

Objective: Create instructions that leave no room for questions

Process: The idea here is to create documentation that can be understood by all operators or technicians in order to promote common knowledge and not make anyone indispensable. This will protect you from any turnover or absence, but will also ensure ownership of the know-how of your business.

It is strongly advised to rely on a lot of images or videos (1 image is worth more than 1000 words).

Always start with the simplest things and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) recommandations. More than 50% of breakdowns come from poor cleaning or settings.

And this leads us to the consistency of execution. It is also important to ensure a routine.

Example: Cleaning the machine is an integral part of the operator's job, every day at 4 pm. It takes 15 min and there are 6 specific points to clean as described in the "AAA" cleaning instruction.

Note: 80% of the instructions created are never subsequently modified. First creation is a key! All of your instructions should be subject to continuous improvement and should be evolving (Go through them once a year by testing them with different people).

Tools: Msapp - SwipeGuide - Dokit

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2. Deal with all breakdowns

Breakdowns make you lose money, it's that simple! It is therefore very important to ensure the reliability of your equipment.

Objective: Deal with all breakdowns and eliminate future ones

Process: The idea here is to take ALL breakdowns very seriously. For this, it is necessary to note each failure and generate concrete actions in order to eliminate the problem forever.

It is important to find a single way for all your employees to pass on information (Emails, physical white board, WhatsApp group...). This process can be quite manual at this point.

It is also important to draw a clear process known to all and to designate 2 or 3 responsible for this system. Once the information has been recorded, the fault must be repaired as quickly as possible (even patched).

Secondly, the work of reflection begins. You have to understand how and why the failure occurred. A list of actions to be implemented as soon as possible will follow.

Example: One part broke, I'm going to order two, so I always have one in stock. A bearing has seized up, I will set up a monthly lubrication instruction ...

Note: Don't underestimate “micro” failures. They can be recurrent. 10 minutes every day can quickly be 1 hour off per week.

Methods: A single computer or physical communication chain - Root Cause Analysis - Failure mode and effects analysis

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3. Include maintenance in the culture of your company

Nowadays, the culture of the company is a spearhead. Through common values and communication, it is essential to involve all employees in maintenance.

Objective: Explain your employees why maintenance is important

Process: As a leader, it can be quite easy to design a maintenance system, but it will never be effective if your employees are not an integral part of that system.

It should be understood that operators and technicians are the ones who can take care of your machines. The goal is therefore to make them understand that maintenance is an integral part of their work.

Example: An operator has just finished cleaning the machine. Does he go back to work right away? NO! He must store and clean his tools, put on order any products for the next maintenance if necessary, report any anomalies identified and report that his job was done. This "extra mile" is the key to effective maintenance.

By communicating daily or even once a month on the subject, you will have 12 chances per year to educate your employees on maintenance. In return, your teams will be invested, your equipment will be more reliable and your workshop a SAFE space.

Tools: SQCDP board - 5S (methodology) - Continual improvement process

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4. Measure maintenance costs

You can't improve what you don't measure. All is said!

Objective: Start quantifying all of your maintenance-related expenses.

Process: As I said earlier, all departments are involved in maintenance. This fourth point therefore concerns the accounting department.

There are a whole bunch of figures regarding the budgets to be allocated to maintenance. At this point, the best way to start is to measure the current expenses. By creating a cost center / tag on all maintenance-related expenses and roughly adding production stoppages to it, you can start measuring.

Trying to calculate the total cost per hour of a production shutdown per machine is also interesting. This kind of data will help you make calculated decisions when the time comes.

Example: How long can this machine be voluntarily shut down for preventive maintenance per week? A whole story of compromise, much easier to resolve when decisions are supported by fact.

Logically, the appearance of KPIs will take shape and improvements will follow.

Methods: Measure expenses - Create KPI


Before spending a fortune on maintenance software (CMMS), there are plenty of little "free" tools / methods that can be the foundation of your maintenance strategy.

The establishment of these four pillars must be road mapped through a full year. This will give you the means to develop and set up paid tools in order to take the next step in your maintenance system.

I hope this article sheds some light on the subject. Do not hesitate to leave your comments and raise questions. Thank you for your time. This article is based on suggestions and personal studies aimed at generalizing information. Please be respectful in your comments.

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