What Is Equipment Maintenance?

Any kind of breakdown or disruption to your production line is always unwanted and you will be keen to avoid it.  Even the highest quality materials handling equipment is susceptible to wear and tear, so if not regularly inspected and serviced can fail and cause the unpredictable cost of downtime and even worker injury.

Preventative maintenance is important and will reduce the risk of breakdown. In this blog, you will learn about equipment maintenance and the benefits it has for your production line.

What is Equipment Maintenance?

Equipment maintenance is a method of regularly ensuring your handling equipment is in reliable working order. By having a service plan that includes routine inspections, corrective repairs, and spares for critical assets you will reduce the risk downtime resulting from breakdown and waiting for parts to be replaced. A service plan will maximise your production time and reduce disruption.

Do you have industrial manipulators, vacuum tube lifters, cranes or below-the-hook lifting devices in your factory? If so, when was the last time they were serviced?  You will, no doubt, have annual LOLER inspections to meet your legal obligations but they will not identify all aspects of wear and tear.   So often, a sudden breakdown could have been prevented if a thorough inspection and service had been regularly conducted.  The service will flag up areas of fatigue to parts and these can be replaced in good time to ensure that there is no untimely malfunction.  Having critical spares to hand will give you the peace of mind that if a part needs to be replaced you will have it to hand and not suffer the chaos of waiting for deliveries to arrive whilst your lifting equipment remains out of action.

What is the Purpose of Equipment Maintenance?

Improving Workplace Safety

If you are unaware of the condition of your equipment, it may shock you when it breaks down and if this happens, not only will your productivity be disrupted, but there is also the risk of injury to operators. LOLER inspection should identify areas of concern so at the very least you must ensure that they are carried out annually otherwise you are also at risk of prosecution.

Equipment maintenance combined with LOLER inspection will ensure that your lifting equipment is safe and efficient, and you remain legally compliant.  It is important that you choose a LOLER inspection expert like Handling Concepts to provide you with accurate maintenance records as evidence that your equipment is being kept to the highest standard if an unfortunate accident occurs.  You will also gain the opportunity to have any potential issues flagged and to take preventative action to avoid disruption in the future.

Increase Equipment Life

Without regular maintenance, wear and tear can lead to equipment failure. Depending on the damage to the device, it may result in having to replace an entire unit rather than to repair it. It goes without saying that if that happens you will be faced with a significant cost that you have not planned or budgeted for, resulting in disruption to production and a cash flow problem.  

Equipment maintenance can help prevent unpredicted costs. Spares and service plans will include a schedule of preventative measures. With Handling Concepts, you can rely on a team of engineers to manage your schedule for you, provide you with reliable costs for support and help you increase the longevity of your equipment.  

Decrease Costs

There are costs associated with equipment maintenance, but these can be planned, budgeted and are not as high as the cost of replacing an entire machine. With regular maintenance and repairs, handling equipment can be kept functioning like new even after many years of use. Maintaining your equipment will ensure reliability, safety, efficiency and reduce the cost of downtime and worker absence.

Equipment Maintenance and Preventive Maintenance Best Practices

Businesses that do not plan time for adequate maintenance are at risk of suffering significant losses. Below are 6 of Handling Concepts recommended best practices for ensuring your equipment is maintained:

1. Correct Use

Ensure that your handling equipment is used correctly and that your operators have adequate training.  Do not allow the device to be used incorrectly or for a purpose for which it was not intended.

Training will be defined according to the specification of the device that was agreed between you and your supplier. Training must be delivered prior to using the equipment.

You may be tempted to increase production efficiency by using your handling equipment for additional tasks. However, if it is not designed for this, it is not safe and the device is likely to break and or cause injury, downtime and cost.

2. Talk to Your Team

Your machine operators are a good source of information regarding the use of your handling equipment, they are likely to spot wear and tear and lack of functionality. Welcoming feedback from operators will give you insight into how well the device is operating and help you to identify potential issues before they arise.

3. Timely Repairs

If an issue is raised, organising a timely repair is the best way of preventing prolonged downtime and disruption. It will be helpful to find out from your supplier what their process is for handling breakdowns. For example, if they have a 1-week response time, assess what impact this delay could have on your business. If this causes too much disruption, it may be worth considering alternative suppliers.

Have in place a preventative maintenance plan to ensure that your equipment can sustain regular use and to help you to reduce unexpected costs and downtime. 

4. Critical Spares

When your materials handling equipment is installed, you should be given guidance on which parts are expected to wear first. A critical spares package is a great way to have these parts ready, on hand, so that you do not lose production time waiting for parts to ship.

Having critical spares available to you also means if a necessary repair or preventative maintenance is scheduled, the parts are already available to use if needed. These packages come with an initial upfront cost, but when you inevitably need to buy them in the future, you do not have to risk a delay in shipment causing significant loss to your business. If you are looking to buy new lifting equipment, it would be beneficial to choose a supplier who can provide this service.

5. Regular Inspections

Inspecting your equipment for wear and tear regularly can help you address minor issues before they turn into problems. In these inspections, you can perform your own daily and weekly checks to look for:

  • Dust, rust and contamination
  • Excessive moisture where it should not be
  • Chips, scratches, or cracks
  • Unusual sounds or vibrations
  • Exposed components

You should also use a maintenance and inspection service provider to conduct thorough LOLER examinations for your equipment. By law, you are required to do this, and this will help you document the condition of your handling equipment and keep your business legally compliant.

6. Install Performance Monitoring Devices

As technology progresses, there are also devices available to you that can monitor the performance of your equipment. For example, you have recorded the number of grips your equipment makes per cycle. Your supplier has told you if your equipment exceeds 20 grips per day, you will need to replace X part in 1 year. This information can assess and predict when certain components could fail and allow you to schedule your preventative maintenance to combat the problem before further issues arise.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Equipment maintenance is used across all industries and is essential for keeping on top of breakdowns and disruption. Regularly maintaining your equipment will help you improve your production efficiency, guarantees continuous up time, and keeps operational costs predicable.

Maintenance tasks are best scheduled in advance and as part of a wider service plan. With over 25 years of experience, Handling Concepts has been maintaining and repairing materials handling equipment for businesses across the UK. You can benefit from timely responses to breakdowns, regular preventative maintenance visits, six-monthly LOLER inspections and critical spares packages.

To find out more about this service or to make a booking today, head over to the spares & service page.

Remove the stress and worry of maintaining your equipment today so that you can focus on the growth, efficiency, and safety of your business.

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