Going lean is now fast becoming the go-to approach for most major industries. The rise in the application of lean principles resulted in the popularity of terms like lean manufacturing, lean enterprise, or lean organization. Although rarely mentioned, the term ‘lean maintenance’ is, in reality, the foundation of each of those concepts. Every lean principle applied to a facility begins at the asset management and maintenance level. In this post, we define lean maintenance, its benefits, and the essential steps in its implementation.
What is Lean Maintenance?
A person described as lean means that they are thin and healthy. Lean meat has very little fat. And a lean season means that there is no abundance of food or money. Similarly, lean maintenance can be defined as having a healthy functioning maintenance process with the least amount of excess fat or misspent resources.
To achieve lean maintenance, there must be a continuous process of identifying, reducing, and removing wasteful activities that drain resources without adding value to the company. Lean maintenance aims to trim the fat or areas that take up a large portion of company resources. Often, these areas not only drain resources but also slow down the maintenance process. Successful lean maintenance results in streamlined, efficient, and effective maintenance for the benefit of the entire company.
Wastes Targeted by Lean Maintenance
Below are the common resource-wasting practices that can slow down maintenance. Lean maintenance aims to target and eliminate the following:
- Redundant and unnecessary maintenance
- Unoptimized spare parts, materials, and tools
- Poor inventory management
- Bottlenecks in work order processing
- Inefficient activities that delay tasks
- Ineffective maintenance that adds to costs
Benefits of Lean Maintenance
The following are the benefits of implementing lean principles in maintenance processes:
Implementing lean maintenance cuts down company costs directly and indirectly. Direct cost reduction comes from less labor, materials, tools, and overhead expenses. And indirect cost-cutting effects are due to lower downtime costs, longer asset life, and improved employee working conditions.
Lean maintenance focuses on achieving more in less time. With proper planning and by improving workflows, lean maintenance removes idle time, which prolongs the execution of tasks.
Lean maintenance streamlines tasks and minimizes excessive maintenance, often leading to negative effects like urgency and errors. If maintenance is more focused and limited, technicians are not overloaded and resources are more properly planned.
Lean maintenance also minimizes wastes caused by keeping too much inventory of spare parts, materials, etc. By controlling inventory, more capital is available for investing in the growth of the company.
Steps in Implementing Lean Maintenance
Below are the essential steps in the successful implementation of lean maintenance:
1. Create a Map of Current Maintenance Processes
It is critical to understand your current maintenance workflow before you can identify areas of improvement. A map of these processes includes critical asset details, repair and maintenance history, workflows, data collection, reporting, and analysis.
2. Identify Areas of Improvement
Some areas of improvement are more obvious and easy to act on. But in other instances, you may need more effort to examine and trial-test. Writing off or modifying a critical task without proper examination can cause more harm than good to your maintenance processes.
3. Execute and Review
Execute the changes that will make your maintenance process leaner and less wasteful. Implementing these changes one area at a time will allow more opportunities to review and revise your plan. Reviewing the effects of these changes helps you spot negative effects early and rectify them before they cause major harm to your system.
4. Continuous Improvement and Revisions
As mentioned earlier, lean maintenance is a continuous process. Every facility evolves and changes over time. And maintenance management must keep up with these changes. Processes, assets, and company goals will shift, and what’s lean today can be a wasteful process tomorrow. Use strict data collection and recording methods, so that you can continuously examine and review your processes.
CMMS as a Lean Maintenance Tool
A CMMS or computerized maintenance management system is one of the indispensable tools in achieving lean maintenance. CMMS software boosts efficiency in almost all areas of maintenance, including planning, scheduling, and executing work orders. It also cuts the time involved in collecting and analyzing maintenance reports to produce accurate and actionable information.
CMMS also acts as a secure database for accessible information and a communication tool that facilitates the execution of maintenance tasks. Finally, CMMS provides a user-friendly platform for inventory control, providing users easy access to stock levels and ordering status. CMMS ensures that stocks are available when needed and downtime is minimized.