Attempting to implement the same maintenance strategy in every industry may fail because maintenance requirements will differ from one industry to the other.

Maintenance is a standard procedure that cuts across all industries. The strategies for choosing and implementing a maintenance plan, for both processes and equipment, will differ. That’s because the selected plan must support the maintenance requirements and conditions that are unique to the industry in question.

Defining the Maintenance Requirements for Different Industries

The maintenance requirements for any industry are the functional needs that must be met to keep operations running smoothly. The peculiarities and conditions that govern that industry will determine these requirements. Most common among these conditions are factors like the statutory regulations for that sector, quality requirements, safety standards, and system sensitivity to failure.

A clear understanding of your maintenance requirements from inception helps in determining what processes are critical and how to keep those processes running efficiently. Consequently, this knowledge is vital when selecting a maintenance strategy that will meet your needs.

Usually, such a strategy is one or a combination of the following:

  • routine maintenance
  • preventative maintenance
  • predictive maintenance
  • run-to-failure maintenance
  • reliability centered maintenance

Let’s examine how maintenance requirements change from one industry to the other.

Healthcare Industry

Maintenance in healthcare facilities is more than keeping a hospital’s operations running smoothly. In fact, it has a direct relationship with possible life-and-death outcomes. Poor maintenance can easily jeopardize the health and well-being of patients.

As a result, the maintenance requirements of the healthcare industry are determined by the highly regulated nature of this field. Though regulations may vary from one country to another, they are generally stringent with almost zero tolerance for failure.

Monitoring and maintenance extend to every area of operations imaginable. It includes maintaining simple and complex medical equipment, preserving the general environment, maintaining hospital security, and ensuring patient safety.

On top of everything mentioned, establishments must comply with every regulation or face stiff penalties and fines.

All the above factors are somewhat compounded by the fact that healthcare concerns generally struggle with financial resources despite rising energy costs. So, to run efficiently, those designing a maintenance plan for healthcare must provide maintenance schedules that will, among other things, prioritize and ensure completion of all compliance-related regulations.

Essentially, they must do more with less resources while still maintaining the expected quality of service delivery. One way to achieve this includes using technology such as building automation systems and proactive maintenance strategies like preventative and predictive maintenance.

Food and Drink Industry

Very similar to the healthcare industry, food and drink is another highly regulated field. However, the manufacturers of products for human consumption must deal with other unique challenges.

For instance, food and drink businesses answer to multiple regulatory bodies. Also, their operations need to run in a way that manages highly automated and complex equipment. They must do this while ensuring workers’ safety and still produce hygienic goods.

In modern food and drink processing plants, you can expect to see very complicated but highly sensitive equipment that run conveyors, fasteners, washers, etc. These machines require constant attention and specialized skills to manage, service, and repair.

In addition, the need for continuous cleaning increases the risk of slips/falls, and generates moisture that must be carefully removed to protect the integrity of the equipment and the finished products.

The maintenance requirements for the food and drink industry dictate that an efficient maintenance plan satisfies the need for cleanliness, keeps complex equipment running smoothly, and at the same time ensures compliance with regulatory controls.

Construction Industry

The construction industry is synonymous with heavy equipment like cranes, excavators, graders, bulldozers. These are expensive pieces of equipment to say the least and keeping them in working condition is directly related to their value.

Although many companies in this niche will lease a large part of the equipment to execute construction projects; equipment alone can often account for up to 55 percent of the assets owned by a single construction business.

Maintenance managers must note several factors that seriously impact productivity and operations in construction. For one thing, construction activities tend to have some inevitable idle time between projects. Thus, it may be a better alternative to schedule servicing on equipment during these times.

Another critical consideration is workers’ safety. The construction industry is plagued every year with employee fatalities and severe injuries. People are working at heights all the time and operating all kinds of moving and rotating machines. Custodians of maintenance management in this industry can incorporate safety training procedures and different types of technology to schedule and plan servicing and repairs to reduce costly downtimes and minimize the chance of dangerous accidents.

Manufacturing

The maintenance requirements for a manufacturing plant can significantly vary from one business to another, depending on exactly what is being produced. In general, manufacturers want to keep their equipment functioning and running efficiently while keeping unplanned downtime to the bare minimum.

Traditionally, reactive maintenance has been the strategy of choice in manufacturing plants. According to this 2017 Maintenance Study by Plant Engineering, up to 61 percent of manufacturing facilities still use reactive maintenance as a part of their maintenance strategy.

But as more and more processing plants embrace automation and advanced manufacturing processes, more manufacturers understand the benefits of incorporating lean methods of production and are switching from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Thus, unlike in the past where operators would use a machine till it breaks down, these days, there is less acceptance for equipment idle times and missed schedules. Of course, some plants still regard planned maintenance as an unwanted cost. Nevertheless, the smartest economic choice would be a combination of one or more types of planned maintenance.

In particular, maintenance planning should include and prioritize the more critical systems that have a higher impact on overall process failure.

Many processing facilities have a lot of moving parts which translates into the need to have some spare parts in stock at all times. That is why inventory and parts management are an especially important part of maintenance management in this industry.

Mining

Mining operations are particularly unique because of the often isolated and sometimes hostile environments in which they occur. Staff has to work deep underground in artificial conditions (artificial light, air, etc.) using equipment that are typically complex and expensive.

Some equipment is so complicated that it’s not uncommon to engage up to 60 percent of the mine workforce strictly for maintaining and repairing these assets.

Due to these factors, mines struggle with excessive and increasing maintenance costs. The industry collectively spends billions of dollars on equipment maintenance alone. That figure comes to anywhere between 30 percent and 50 percent of the total operating costs for individual mines.

Compared to the food and drink or healthcare industries, a maintenance plan for a mining operation won’t typically consider cleaning as a critical function. Rather, mines need an optimized mix of maintenance strategies that will reduce unplanned downtime, ensure workers’ safety, increase productivity, and reduce operating costs.

Considering the scope of mining operations, effective maintenance management requires good communication between maintenance engineers working on-site and upper maintenance managers that are working on long-term maintenance plans. The goal is that all involved parties have a clear idea of how maintenance plans are being carried out as that is the only way to make continuous improvements and reduce those huge maintenance costs.

Ultimately, maintenance is a must for every industry. The form it takes and how and when it is executed, depends on the specific requirements for that sector.

Bryan Christiansen, boss magazineBryan Christiansen is founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble is a mobile first, modern, and easy to use CMMS software. We help take the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate and streamline their maintenance operations.