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Plant Maintenance: definitions and effective planning strategies

Plant maintenance refers to a set of activities that help keep plant systems in optimal conditions. Discover all the advantages


Taking care of a plant’s facilities day after day is the only way to have systems that are always performing and productive.
In order to simplify the management of various activities and plan actions to optimize asset performance, facility management professionals use specific plant maintenance software. Try this solution yourself and start improving your regular maintenance practices right away.

Furthermore, in this article, discover all the benefits of proper plant maintenance and learn how to choose and plan the strategy that best suits your needs.

What is plant maintenance?

Plant maintenance is the process that allows maintaining plant systems of any structure in perfect working conditions, improving their efficiency, productivity, and lifespan.
This process includes necessary actions to prevent problems and avoid them from turning into failures, to repair or replace damaged machinery, or to intervene on individual components and spare parts.

Since there are many different types of plants and production systems, methods for managing and maintaining these structures can vary from case to case. A car manufacturing plant will definitely have different machinery compared to a textile industry or a food processing plant.

This means that every production activity should have a customized maintenance plan, adapted to its own needs and characteristics. This plan should define the methods and scheduling for equipment checks, issue resolution, general cleaning, and all the operations necessary to keep the specific types of equipment efficient.

The common goal of all plant maintenance processes remains to maximize the performance of an organization’s productive resources and create a safe working environment for all operators.

Plant maintenance

Plant maintenance

The 6 Types of Plant Maintenance

Based on the type and age of equipment, their usage, and available resources, you can choose among the following 6 types of plant maintenance:

  • Corrective maintenance: It is a “reactive” type of maintenance carried out to identify, isolate, and correct a failure after it has occurred so that the equipment can be restored to normal operating conditions within the tolerances or limits established for service operations. Since corrective maintenance can only be implemented when a plant (or its component) stops functioning, it is advisable to reserve it for less “critical” assets, i.e., equipment that does not halt the production line in case of unexpected failures or malfunctions;
  • Preventive maintenance: It refers to proactive maintenance interventions, i.e., actions that are regularly performed on equipment to prevent potential failures. These interventions help address production issues before they occur. Unlike corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance is performed while the plant is still operational to prevent unexpected breakdowns. The ability to minimize or even eliminate machine downtime makes this type of maintenance particularly suitable for an organization’s most critical assets
  • Predictive maintenance: It is similar to preventive maintenance because its goal is to anticipate failures, but it differs in that it goes beyond prevention and aims to predict the probabilities of future failure through the use of intelligent technologies. Equipment performance is regularly monitored and analyzed to make accurate predictions. This allows technicians to identify potential problems well in advance and schedule necessary predictive maintenance interventions with maximum efficiency;
  • Prescriptive maintenance: It can be considered as a further evolution of preventive and predictive maintenance because, in addition to anticipating problems and predicting future failures, it leverages artificial intelligence to identify possible solutions and provide detailed recommendations on the best prescriptive maintenance actions to undertake;
  • Condition-based maintenance: It is a highly effective maintenance strategy based on monitoring the actual health status of an asset. Interventions are not performed at regular intervals like preventive maintenance but are subject to the achievement of a specific condition, determined through appropriate metrics. This allows for maximum utilization of a plant’s capabilities and cost savings in maintenance. Condition-based maintenance reduces unnecessary interventions and eliminates the possibility of replacing components that have not yet reached the end of their life;
  • Emergency maintenance: defined as maintenance performed when a plant experiences unexpected malfunctions or failures that could pose a serious risk to the health and safety of users. Emergency maintenance is necessary when immediate action is required to restore normal operating conditions of the facility and prevent damage to property and people.

 

Types of plant maintenance strategies

Types of plant maintenance strategies

The benefits of adequate plant maintenance strategies

Regardless of the strategy being adopted, maintaining plant systems in an efficient and accurate manner will help to:

  • prevent unplanned downtime;
  • increase operational efficiency and machinery productivity;
  • minimize losses that can occur due to production interruptions;
  • slow down the wear and extend the lifespan of equipment;
  • maximize performance, reliability, and availability of assets;
  • reduce waste and ensure optimal use of resources;
  • improve production quality;
  • reduce the risk of workplace accidents and enhance employee health and safety;
  • order and manage inventories more efficiently;
  • minimize expenses and total costs required for maintenance.

How to plan plant maintenance

Good maintenance is essential to keep production machinery always operational and functional. Now that you understand the importance of this process, discover how to plan an effective maintenance strategy by following the tips below:

  • Create a priority list: The first important step in proper plant maintenance planning is to identify all the equipment involved in the production process and assign each of them an appropriate priority level. Machinery that is essential in the production line should have a higher level of importance and be the first to undergo maintenance interventions. To properly classify resources based on potential risks, it is advisable to implement a criticality analysis;
  • Develop a workflow: Once the most critical assets are identified, it is necessary to specify the interventions to be performed on each of them. To ensure proper allocation of resources, it is important to establish in advance the required intervention methods for each equipment. Creating a maintenance workflow will help you organize all the work and match the activities to be performed with the assets to be managed;
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities: For each phase of the workflow, clearly define “who should do what.” The most effective way to clarify roles and responsibilities is to create a RACI matrix, which aims to relate each individual to the activities they are responsible for. Proper assignment of tasks is crucial to avoid confusion and increase the efficiency of the entire process;
  • Monitor the progress of the process: To know if everything is proceeding as planned, it is essential to track the maintenance metrics and KPIs that help measure the effectiveness of various processes and evaluate the performance of the maintenance team. With these parameters, it is possible to determine what worked and what could be improved. This allows you to avoid similar mistakes in the future and continually improve the planning of interventions;
  • Use a maintenance management system: The most critical step in ensuring the success of your maintenance plans is to adopt an appropriate CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), which supports the activities described so far. This system helps manage intervention scheduling, track equipment performance, maintain open communication with stakeholders, and improve the efficiency and reliability of every maintenance process.

Implementing a maintenance plan can be an extremely complex and challenging process. But with the help of plant maintenance software, you can handle maintenance activities in a simple and intuitive way. Try this tool now and discover all the planning, management, monitoring, and reporting features that will help transform the maintenance of your plant into an increasingly reliable, targeted, efficient, and productive process.

 

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