Once a maintenance plan has been determined, it is the task of the maintenance department to ensure that it is carried out. This function is known as Maintenance Work Control, and covers all aspects of day to day maintenance management activities. This is a separate function from activities designed to improve the maintenance plan, such as REM or RCM analysis. The figure below shows how these two aspects of the maintenance department function relate to each other.

One of the primary challenges in maintenance management is balancing these two aspects of maintenance, namely long term improvement in the reliability of the assets employed and managing the work force to ensure that maintenance tasks are carried out. Many companies expend much effort on the day to day management of maintenance, with the result that potential reliability improvements suffer. This is often extenuated by the erroneous view held by many that maintenance costs companies money. This view was confirmed by a survey of maintenance managers, 67% of whom responded that their senior management regarded maintenance as an overhead rather than an investment.

The maintenance improvement cycle is often ignored or under resourced. Many companies concentrate effort on the maintenance work control cycle to the detriment of plant improvement activities. This can be due to a number of reasons, including budget or labour constraints or too much “fire fighting”. Clearly any time saved on day to day management by maintenance engineers could be more effectively utilised in planning and implementing reliability improvement policies, which in turn will lead to both higher plant availability and lower operating costs. However, lack of time is the most common reason quoted for not undertaking plant improvement studies.

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