By Anton Oosthuizen. Planning is already well underway for those industries that close over the Christmas and New year period for any end-of-year plant shutdown maintenance that might be required. Over the last few months of the year, where most plants and manufacturers are ramping up production to stay ahead of the festive season, many may be required to shut down over this time.
Those in the know take advantage of this offline period to carry out essential system and equipment maintenance and repairs.
But First, what is Preventative Maintenance and Scheduled Maintenance?
Preventative maintenance is where a machine that is still in good working order undergoes maintenance in order to lower the likelihood of it failing. This reduces unexpected downtime and unplanned outages and mitigates the risk and costs of emergency repairs.
Much like preventative maintenance, scheduled maintenance is where maintenance activities are planned ahead of time, with a clear indication of who will carry out the maintenance, what work will be done, and by when this will take place.
The Benefits of Planned Machine Maintenance During Plant Shutdown
- Increases productive capacity
- Reduces unscheduled downtime
- Ensures materials needed are available
- Makes good use of the festive season shutdown
- Reduces bottlenecks in production due to poor-performing equipment
- Saves time and money
To do all of this well, manufacturing organisations need a software solution that can streamline operations, reduce downtime, and remove human error.
Using ERP for Equipment Maintenance
Computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) have been the only option for organisations looking for maintenance solutions for many years.
Thankfully, with the rise of the modern, cloud-based enterprise resource planning solution (ERP), there is now an affordable, flexible, integrated alternative.
ERP systems have been around for decades, and have thankfully evolved from the behemoth, inflexible, difficult-to-implement, highly expensive systems of the ’90s.
The ERP systems of today encompass a multiplicity of business functions. These business operating systems (BOS) support most business functions inherent within an enterprise, such as sales and quotes, inventory management, purchasing, production management, accounting, customer relationship management, and business reporting.
They remove blindspots, eliminate manual processes, and streamline complex operations. Considering how important maintenance is to manufacturers it comes as no surprise that the larger names in ERP, like SAP and JD Edwards, have been offering stand-alone plant maintenance modules for years. These modules can be purchased additionally to the core ERP or BOS system.
However, not all organisations can justify the expense of these big brand solutions.
Thankfully, cloud-based BOS can be adapted for maintenance planning.
BOS provides a robust maintenance management solution
Not only does BOS unify a business’s departments into one system, it provides maintenance management by allowing teams to:
- Schedule the maintenance of equipment in the BOS calendar with reminders
- Be included in the shop floor planner
- Allow managers to review, update and schedule maintenance on the production management planner, along with required downtime, while live production requirements continue
- Create internal work orders to which hours, purchasing and payments can be linked
- Support preventive or scheduled maintenance strategies, as well as unplanned or emergency maintenance requests
How to Choose the Right ERP Solution
When considering an ERP or BOS solution, it is important to address a few important questions first.
- What are the overarching business requirements? This is an enterprise-wide solution, and will help staff reach organisational goals.
- What are the functionality requirements? Everyone in the business should be able to use the solution, so consider the end-user requirements and how BOS can help them get the job done.
- Are there any integration considerations? Not all ERP solutions play well with other applications. Find out if the prospective BOS vendor knows how to integrate other applications into the system.
- What is the expected return on investment (ROI) and over what period? Implementing ERP is expensive, and while immediate improvements in productivity are often noted, financial returns may take longer. Ensure you have realistic ROI expectations.
- Is the vendor reliable? Find out if they have carried out implementations in industries like yours.
- Is there a clearly defined implementation methodology in place? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. ERP implementations are complex and lengthy. You need a partner who has done this for years.
- After-go-live support and training. It is also worth finding out about ongoing user training and support services before you invest.
Most importantly, inquire about the degree of flexibility of the solution.
Most organisations have more complexity than a standard, an out-of-the-box solution can cater to, but might not be able to afford the cost and time it will take for a custom-built or big-label solution.
While some software providers offer manufacturing modules that support production planning, scheduling, and execution, it is best to find an all-in-one solution that ensures the business is tightly integrated and unified.