Lean Maintenance is a strategy that aims to reduce waste and inefficiencies in the management of physical resources. Find out how to implement it!
Lean logic has been applied since long time in the production sector to streamline all processes and reduce waste without, however, sacrificing the quality of the final product. What you may not know is that the success of Lean Production is based on the implementation of strategies dedicated to keep tools and plants in a state of maximum efficiency.
The objective of this article is, in fact, to make you discover all the advantages and potential of the so-called Lean Maintenance. It involves the application of “lean” principles and methods to the management and maintenance of the company assets. Lean Maintenance represents an essential prerequisite to ensure the success of each organization.
Before showing you how to implement this maintenance strategy, I recommend you try a Facility Management software, a very powerful and easy to use tool. Through a series of integrated functions and centralized information management it helps you to achieve the objectives of Lean Maintenance with maximum efficiency and simplicity.
What is the Lean Maintenance
Lean Maintenance, is an approach to managing a company’s physical resources and capital goods. It aims to eliminate unnecessary activities from day-to-day operations by reducing time waste and improving the overall efficiency and productivity of the organization.
Although this strategy is often referred as a subset of Lean Production, exactly the opposite is true. In fact, in order to be successful in lean production, it is first of all necessary to apply the “lean” principles to the management and maintenance processes of industrial plants and machinery.
In the “lean” logic, waste refers to the excessive use of resources (such as time, labor, energy, etc.) that does not add any value to the final product or service. With particular reference to the maintenance sector, inefficiencies and waste are due to:
- reducing unplanned downtime;
- excessive maintenance;
- automated creation of work orders;
- mismanagement of inventory;
- the unnecessary accumulation of stocks and spare parts;
- to the extra costs for the repair of defects and the correction of maintenance errors.
The implementation of Lean Maintenance allows you to avoid these problems at the origin. In fact, it allows the identification and elimination of actions that cause a waste of the internal resources of the organization. This is obtained by improving inefficient processes and optimizing the management of work orders.
What are the 5 Principles of Lean Maintenance?
Lean maintenance practices are based on the application of five essential principles, illustrated below:
- Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), it optimize the effectiveness and reliability of production equipment, through the involvement in the maintenance processes of all the subjects operating at different levels of the production system (operators, technicians, executives, etc.). The aim of this strategy is to minimize fails, leaks, breakdowns and other incidents;
- Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM),is a process that ensures that maintenance activities are performed efficiently, economically, reliably, and safely. The RCM approach is used to monitor physical resources in their current operating conditions in order to predict maintenance requirements;
- 5S process: it is a methodology that involves the systematic implementation of five activities for the workplace management that allow to improve the overall efficiency of the plant. The “S” refers specifically to five Japanese words that literally mean:
- Seiri (Separate), identify and remove everything that is not necessary from the work environment;
- Seiton (Reorder), arrange in an orderly and accessible way all the tools;
- Seinso (deep Clean), clean and inspect the workplace and any machinery frequently;
- Seiketsu (Standardize): establish schedules and procedures to repeat the first three activities “S”;
- Shitsuke (Support): continue to support the process of improvement through the establishment of behavioral habits;
- Just in Time (JIT) is a concept that refer to inventory activities. Companies use this methodology to reduce waste during the production process by receiving goods in stock only when necessary. In lean maintenance, operators plan repairs as accurately as possible so that the various interventions are carried out only when due (neither too early nor too late) and that spare parts are made available at the exact time they need to be used;
- Waste elimination: the lean maintenance procedures are based on the elimination of all those phases of the process that do not add any value to the final product, and that can be classified into seven different types of waste:
- excessive downtime;
- unnecessary storage;
- presence of defective parts;
- non-optimized transport;
What are the advantages of lean maintenance
The implementation of Lean Maintenance allows you to obtain numerous advantages, including:
- minimizing maintenance costs, both direct (required for labour and resources) and indirect (due to unplanned downtime);
- the elimination of waste, especially the use of JIT logic avoids keeping expensive stocks longer than necessary;
- reducing inefficient activities, with practices that allow you to eliminate or modify processes that take too long to complete;
- the reduction of emergencies, the use of a proactive approach allows to solve any problems before they turn into failures;
- continuous involvement of employees, in fact, appropriate training processes aim to train operators to act decisively when problems arise.
How to Implement Lean Maintenance
Generally speaking, the implementation of Lean Maintenance implies moving away from traditional resource allocation schemes. It is carried out by assigning a proactive role to the maintenance department, so that it can participate in the improvement of production processes.
The implementation process usually begins with a maintenance audit that aims to identify the department’s strengths and weaknesses. Based on the results obtained in this first phase, the following fundamental steps are:
- definition of standardized practices aimed at extending the service life of equipment and spare parts;
- strengthening and developing these practices improve response capacity and reduce the frequency of interventions;
- experimenting with planned preventive strategies to find the right balance of services that prevent emergencies without overloading equipment;
- assign routine maintenance operations to the production department to allow the maintenance team to devote itself to the most serious problems;
- search for more efficient alternatives in the choice of equipment for repairs and cleaning of machinery and workplace;
- improvement of inventory and inventory management methods.
To apply the lean approach to maintenance processes it is essential to use a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) software as it is the only tool able to support the steps described above.
Since not all CMMS systems are equally effective in the development of lean maintenance, it is important to choose solutions that meet certain criteria and are therefore:
- easy to use, to help facility managers in carrying out the different activities;
- cloud-based, to enable use from any mobile device;
- able to offer simplified and standardized processes for work order and inventory management;
- able to provide reports and historical data on maintenance operations.
You should rely on the potential of a Facility Management software and start experimenting with the advantages of Lean Maintenance right away. With the help of this tool you can manage your activities from a single centralized platform and in the cloud. It will also provide you with the support you’ll need to make your maintenance processes even more streamlined and efficient.