In almost every factory, the production machines that churn out your products are the lifeblood of your organization, as much a part of efficiency as a well-trained staff. For that reason, you need to care for that equipment the same way you would any employee.
Of course, machines and people have two very different sets of needs, and as a manager, you have to make sure you're holding up your end of the bargain. Here's how you can do that for your production equipment:
1) Know the lubrication schedule
In many cases, all your machines need in terms of TLC is new lubricant, according to Machine Design. As such, you should always strive to understand the unique lubrication schedule for each piece of equipment under your roof, as recommended by the manufacturer, and follow it to the letter.
2) Don't let machines get dirty
When machines get covered in dust, dirt and other debris, they're not going to work as well as they could, especially if that stuff gets into the aforementioned lubricant, Machine Design advised. As such, regularly cleaning your equipment is a must.
3) Hold regular inspections
On a fairly consistent basis — say, once every month or quarter — it's a good idea to test your production equipment with diagnostic equipment to make sure everything is working as intended, Machine Design further suggested. There may be issues that are difficult for a human to detect when the machines are operating at full capacity, but which can be easily identified with proper tools.
4) Keep spare parts on hand
Every once in a while, such an inspection may find that it's necessary to replace certain components, according to Stiles Machinery. Instead of being caught off-guard by that kind of problem then waiting days or even weeks for a replacement part to arrive, it's a good idea to have at least a few of these components in a storage room somewhere so that they can be easily swapped in.
5) Keep a record
Whether you're just running routine inspections, re-applying lubricants or making full-scale repairs to a machine, it's important to log everything you do, Stiles Machinery said. That way, there's a central document where all that information is saved and updated, so it can be referred to any time there's a problem.
6) Clean up around the machines
Just as keeping the machines themselves clean is important, so too is keeping production areas around them clear of any debris, according to Michbelles. Even one small issue that accidentally makes contact with certain parts of this equipment can create a long-term problem, so a simple cleaning checklist and schedule is vital to proper maintenance.
7) Don't go beyond the reasonable life cycle
If everything goes as expected when it comes to maintenance, you can usually get more than a decade out of every kind of machine you invest in, Michbelles added. But there will come a day when it's smarter, more efficient and, frankly, safer to simply replace a machine than try to wring an extra year or two out of it.