Is equipment maintenance a significant line item on your company’s yearly operating budget? If you’re fixing mechanical errors as they occur, you might think you’re saving money. However, one faulty machine could be the difference between whether your company stays in the black or runs into the red.

If you’re not dedicating regular resources to equipment maintenance, you’re probably spending way more than you need to fixing machines. It may seem like one big bill in the future is better than a yearly expense. With affordable reliability centered maintenance (RCM) practices, you can reduce your overhead and avoid production downtime in the future.

Let’s face it: all equipment needs maintenance sometimes. Proactive maintenance can make a big difference in your bottom line. Here’s how setting up RCM analysis can help your manufacturing plant thrive.

Regular Maintenance Saves You Money

Keeping equipment maintenance technicians on staff may seem like a waste of money now. However, many of the best-run manufacturing companies rely on trained RCM technicians to protect their workforce, maintain optimal production levels, and extend the life of their equipment.

Without the proper equipment maintenance software in place, though, your technicians might be wasting their time inspecting equipment that’s running smoothly. A high-quality RCM analyzer software solution can help your technician predict which machines may need attention soonest.

Businesses use RCM analysis to balance maintenance needs, prioritize machines with a data-driven schedule, and identify system failure patterns. Deeply understanding your facility’s maintenance needs can help your maintenance team become a well-oiled machine, like the ones they service!

Dedicating time and resources to reliability centered maintenance practices, software, and training quickly pays for itself. Understanding your equipment’s true value and the ideal maintenance schedule for each piece can prevent costly breakdowns. Adding another line item to your operating budget may seem out of the question, but RCM technologies may be able to help cut other overhead costs when properly implemented.

Here are some areas where RCM can save your organization money.

Reduced Downtime

Unexpected maintenance can lead to a lengthy downtime. At best, the problem is addressed swiftly and causes only a temporary delay. At worst, a machine unexpectedly breaks down, and the maintenance team spends days trying to understand the problem and repair it.

Buying new machinery in the middle of a production cycle can be extremely costly. If multiple machines break down, you may be looking at a huge dent in your company’s cash reserves. With production halted and limited cash coming in, maintenance issues can come with a higher cost than you may have guessed.

Plus, that doesn’t even account for your technician’s overtime or managing unhappy customers. While the occasional broken machine may not be a big deal, many maintenance emergencies can be easily avoided with RCM.

When your equipment runs its best, your plant meets reliable production deadlines. Necessary machine downtime can be anticipated and accounted for within your company’s deadlines. Limited downtime can even allow your business to ramp up production and serve more customers.

A reliable, data-driven maintenance schedule can limit unexpected breakdowns and keep your operating timelines steady.

Safer Employees

Keeping your workforce safe in a factory setting is not only compassionate. Prioritizing safety can also help save your company money. Your company can save $4-6 for every dollar invested in a manufacturing company’s safety program.

Machine malfunction can also lead to employee injury. If your equipment is regularly serviced, your employees are safer. This can help you save on unexpected lawsuits, insurance premiums, and sick time away from work.

One benefit of RCM is understanding which pieces of machinery pose the most danger to operators during a breakdown. Anticipating which machines can cause severe injuries can help your technicians focus on regular, preventative maintenance.

Maintaining your equipment goes beyond ensuring your workforce stays productive. Proper maintenance can make your company safer, leading to happier employees and stronger branding. As you implement RCM techniques, you may find that more skilled workers are eager to work for you!

Slower Depreciation

Like driving a new car off a lot, your equipment starts to depreciate the moment you use it. However, slowing the depreciation cycle can help your company save money in the long run.

There’s nothing worse than having to buy all new machinery because your equipment is on its last legs. Every facilities management team hopes that their equipment will die intermittently. But, if you are only providing maintenance during a breakdown, you may be shortening the lives of your machines at the same rate.

Replacing machinery can cause a major dent in your manufacturing overhead costs. Regular, preventative or predictive maintenance helps your technicians see issues before a breakdown brings production to a halt. A well-cared-for machine may have a much longer useable life than one that’s only fixed when something is wrong.

Depreciation tracking can help improve your accounting efforts and make it easier to predict when new machines are needed. This can shift equipment replacement from a stressful expense to an anticipated cost reflected in your yearly budget. The right software can streamline your KPI measurement for both your maintenance and finance teams.

How RCM Analysis Works

Some manufacturers might deem preventative maintenance as wasteful. When it’s approached from a randomly scheduled standpoint, it likely is a waste of time and money. That’s where having a data-driven approach to maintenance can make all the difference.

RCM technologies go beyond listing your assets and determining a maintenance strategy. Instead, RCM analysis uses customized statistical modeling and simulations to determine what equipment needs service when. With RCM software, your team can reduce downtime, keep your workforce safe, and extend the life of your assets.

These models focus on mitigating risk. Rather than waiting for a breakdown to happen or haphazardly offering yearly maintenance, RCM offers a data-based maintenance approach. RCM helps determine when a failure might come and how to fix a system failure before it causes a breakdown.

Depending on your industry, RCM can look slightly different in practice. Evaluating what happens when certain equipment fails can help your technicians preempt an issue in the future. To do that, equipment maintenance software using root cause analysis and monitoring makes it easier for your technicians to respond before a total breakdown.

Root Cause Analysis

RCM analysis is based on data from reactive and preventive maintenance. Tracking tickets isn’t enough to understand your machines. Understanding the root issue of the breakdown and tracking performance readouts allows the system’s algorithm to begin predicting where and when a breakdown may happen.

Often, a machine’s failure may be hidden from the operator long before an issue occurs. This puts the operator, the production line, and the entire plant at risk. Tracking and recognizing early signs of failure can help keep team members safe and keep business running as usual.

Shifting from reactive maintenance to RCM may require a mindset transition for your team. That’s where process training can come in handy. Trained RCM technicians can lead the way to inspire maintenance workers to get to the source of the problem, rather than fixing a symptom.

Once you discover the problem’s source, tracking related metrics can help your team predict when potential breakdowns might happen. Plus, root cause analysis can identify areas where preventative care can reduce the risk of a larger machine failure.

Some principles of root cause analysis can help us reach the goal of RCM. From understanding the cause, technicians can gain a better idea of what will happen to a machine if the failure cause occurs before the breakdown is evident.

Understanding Risk

One central aspect of RCM methodology is the focus on risk management. Tracking the failure impacts and the likelihood of equipment failure can help lower the risk of your organization. When technicians know what type of failures to look for, they can begin looking for these failures earlier on more hazardous machines.

With RCM, the consideration isn’t only on what equipment is most expensive. Small machine failures can be catastrophic, even if they’re relatively easy to fix. Maintaining ongoing attention on smaller routine maintenance tasks can keep production schedules on track and employees at work.

Even one piece of equipment breaking down can cause a chain reaction. Whether it leads to more system failures or temporarily halts production, this costs your business time and money. Knowing the connections between equipment can help focus your maintenance team’s attention on the most important tasks.

Unlike root cause analysis, which focuses on what happens when equipment fails, RCM focuses on keeping up peak reliability. Knowing how a machine runs and what outputs to expect when a machine is at its best can help your team foresee issues. Measuring these outputs and tracking the data can strengthen your algorithm that determines what machines require attention first.

For example, a manufacturing defect may mean one machine requires more maintenance than an identical machine. While the outputs may be similar, there may be early signs of failure in the defective one that don’t occur in the other machine. Tracking the reality of your equipment’s outputs can provide clearer indicators than the manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations.

Anticipating all failures—not only age-related failures—can decrease the risk of production downtimes. As your company applies RCM principles, your maintenance strategies improve over time.

Regular RCM analysis can help your maintenance plan become more streamlined year after year. This diminishes system failure while making future equipment purchases more predictable.

Keeping a Realistic Perspective

RCM software is designed to help your team predict as many unexpected failures as possible. However, no maintenance plan can eliminate the possibility of failure.

When your business buys high-quality machinery and equipment, it can feel like a personal affront when those items fail. Many business owners need to accept that failure is a natural and normal part of managing equipment before beginning RCM. From there, an effective maintenance plan can be born.

Equipment failures and the data we receive from them are part of what makes RCM so effective. Hidden failures and faults are a central aspect of RCM procedures. While unique and hidden failures can still occur, these failures provide valuable insight.

These failings can help maintenance people predict what can happen to equipment after a certain point or in certain conditions. Once an error occurs once, every technician moving forward will understand how to fix or avoid it. This can decrease maintenance labor hours over time.

Getting to the bottom of hidden failures can expose the risks in your equipment and operating strategy. Your attention needs to be on understanding what failures may be present to keep the system running optimally. These hidden failings will often be missed, so it’s important to expect failures as part of your RCM strategy.

Is RCM Technology Best For You?

Maintaining equipment can seem like a constant concern for business owners. When broken equipment can halt production, there is a lot at stake when machinery breaks. Finding a more effective way for machine maintenance can help save businesses money and time.

If your reactive maintenance plan is causing production delays, it’s time to consider switching to RCM. While adopting RCM practices may seem overwhelming, it can make maintenance easier than you expect. Switching to RCM requires a shift in how your teams look at your assets and maintenance.

Preventative maintenance experts will appreciate a shift to RCM, too. There are many opportunities to save money on unnecessary maintenance using data-driven software to guide your maintenance plan.

If you’re looking for even more ways to help your business thrive, we’ve got you covered. Check out our other business blog posts to keep your business running well.

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