Equipment failures and workplace accidents are particularly inevitable in technologically complex businesses and manufacturing industries. The increasing pace of automation and mechanization has further magnified the potential risks associated with engineering systems and production units.
For instance, companies that offer commercial excavation services follow high standards of maintainability to ensure client satisfaction with the excavation work. For construction projects, they strictly follow the right tools and project specifications to minimize failure and damage.
Generally, engineering systems and units are expected to work 24/7 without failure. But because of operation stresses and design deficiencies, there will be cases when the system is unable to meet the user’s expectations related to system performance. This often happens with poor maintainability and inefficient support strategies.
While the reliability of engineering systems helps reduce maintenance costs, the improved maintainability of the system is also critical in achieving the expected performance. In this article, we’ll discuss the maintainability in manufacturing maintenance, its importance, and the factors that affect the maintainability of the system.
What is maintainability?
Maintainability is the relative ease with which maintenance activities are performed on a system. Its main purpose is to examine the probability of a malfunctioning system to be restored or retained through specified conditions after undergoing maintenance.
It is often confused with reliability, but the two differ in different ways. Maintainability addresses where reliability falls short. Reliability refers to how long a system can function without issues, while maintainability is the probability the system can be restored in times of failure.
Basically, maintainability is expected during unforeseen failure. As the system strives for reliability and functionality, maintainability will serve as the backup plan if the system breaks down. Together, the two produce high-performance systems to help facilities carry out work effortlessly.
When measuring the maintainability of a system, you need to measure the effort required in conducting maintenance on a specific piece of equipment. There are multiple ways to quantify the exerted effort, but the most common technique is to compute the average time required to repair the equipment to its number of breakdowns the equipment experienced.
Importance of maintainability
As mentioned earlier, the primary goal of maintainability is to quantify the probability with which a system can be repaired to its normal status after a failure occurs. This will ensure the system will continue working in an operational state and maintain its investment value over a long period.
Manufacturing systems, such as engineering components and production units, are viewed as valuable assets. They have to provide an efficient and safe environment for the execution of various manufacturing activities.
The ability of a system to carry out its operations is equivalent to its functionality. But if the equipment’s functional component starts to deteriorate and breaks down, maintainability comes in to carry out the required measures to restore the equipment to its normal state. These measures will be successful only if you prioritize the maintenance culture in the facility.
Unfortunately, many systems break down because manufacturing managers or employees are not adhering to safety performance. When left unchecked, a malfunctioning system can lead to frequent repairs, poor productivity, high maintenance costs, and workplace accidents.
Factors affecting maintainability
Operator error is one of the most common causes of system failure. This is due to a lack of employee training, which also contributes to poor maintainability. The best way to avoid this is to conduct employee training. Trained workers are a crucial aspect of the maintainability of a system. Their attitude, knowledge, and skills towards equipment repairs will determine the quality of work.
Checklists and drawings
Comprehensive drawings and updated checklists are always a must when operating any type of equipment and system. Without them, equipment downtime will take longer if the maintenance personnel have to spend more time tracing circuits to identify the cause of the problem.
Standardizing the inventory, equipment, and replacement parts enhances interchangeability. Assessing the facility will give you a critical spares list and the lead time. If the spares are not hidden onsite or locally, this can cause major disruptions to repairs and production and can cost huge expenses because of extended downtime.
Increasing preventative and planned maintenance contributes to prolonging the system’s lifespan and supports maintainability. It will also reduce system downtime and minimize potential damages.
Overall, maintenance is a critical process for the sustainability and performance of any physical structure or system. The maintainability of the system or equipment may depend on the procedure, quality of maintenance, and employee training. Considering these factors during the maintenance process will provide a worthwhile basis to address the maintenance needs and successfully restore a system to its normal operations.