In British industry, the maintenance plan has often evolved rather than being consciously set-up resulting in an over reliance on breakdown and fixed time maintenance (planned maintenance). Historically plant equipment has been robust and less automated than modern equipment making it relatively easy to work on. These plants have relied on large and expensive maintenance departments to enable rapid attention to breakdowns. Single-line single-product plants with no standbys have allowed profitability to be increased through the economies of scale. On the downside, this has resulted in ever increasing breakdown costs. In this changing environment, historical maintenance plans cannot provide the required level of plant performance.
The goal of any well run maintenance organisation is to have the lowest cost of the sum of two quantities, i.e:
- Maintenance labour and material
- Production loss reduction resulting from an inadequate maintenance programme (which includes lack of ability to produce, and value added material that is lost as a result of a breakdown).
Maintenance itself can result in excessive downtime and costs. This results from the requirement to take the machinery off-line to carry out (possibly unnecessary and invasive) maintenance. The danger of infant mortality after it has been put back on line again and also the cost of the maintenance action itself contributes to costs. Achieving the lowest cost is an optimisation technique shown graphically in the diagram below.
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