A factory worker with a black jacket and white hardhat uses a wrench to tighten a bolt

Equipment management is a complex field. If you’ll forgive the pun, there are a lot of moving parts involved when dealing with expensive equipment. While there’s a seemingly endless amount of variables and potential problems one must stay on top of to effectively oversee a facility’s equipment, a simple three-step path could be the key to increasing productivity, reducing downtime, and cutting costs.

It All Begins with Organization

All equipment managers make some effort to keep their facility organized. No matter how confident you are in your current practices, it never hurts to assess the situation and make a genuine commitment to improve organization.

Make sure you know where your equipment is. The advice seems obvious enough, but keep in mind that knowing is only half the battle– you must also be able to effectively communicate the locations with your team (and of course if you have repairable spares this point becomes even more clear). Take a more systematic approach by naming the different areas in your facility. Use parent-child asset relationships and a logical, standardized numbering or naming system for the equipment itself.

It might take some legwork to thoroughly account for all the equipment in your facility, but you’re laying an important foundation for the future. Think ahead and plan your organizational scheme accordingly for the next part of the process, where you’ll integrate your organized equipment with a powerful software suite.

Integrate your Organization with a Computerized System

Keeping your equipment in order is a reward unto itself, but you won’t really experience all the benefits of a properly organized facility until you get your newly-named equipment into a computerized maintenance management system. CMMS software will streamline your operations and unlock new heights of organization and control of your equipment.

Preventive maintenance is an established principle of productive facilities. With a deeper understanding of your equipment and its operating status, you can nip downtime in the bud and keep operations running at maximum productivity. CMMS software helps make this possible.

When scheduling Preventive maintenance, you can associate all of your work orders to the specific pieces of equipment, using detailed instructions based on the operating history of each particular machine. With some training, your team can learn to add notes and observations about the conditions they see, even if unrelated to the current task at hand. Something that seems minor can escalate to a major failure if left unchecked. With a little extra care, and a CMMS program that lets you easily issue follow-up work orders, you’ll be able to avoid lengthy downtime and expensive repairs by fixing problems before they cost excessive time and money.

Equipment management is ultimately about information. The key to maintaining a productive facility boils down to how well you know your equipment and how to maximize its performance. If you don’t have a handle on the condition of your equipment, you’re not going to be able to monitor if effectively. CMMS software can provide the data to help take the guesswork out of the equation and allow you to focus on what matters most.

Unlock the Next Level of Equipment Management with In-Depth Diagnostic Tools

Once your equipment is organized, named, and entered into a CMMS, you can begin to take advantage of the higher-level tools available:

Oil analysis can aid in the early detection of mechanical problems and enhance the effectiveness of your Preventive maintenance planning. It’s hard for a machine to fail without the oil knowing first, since microscopic debris from wear and tear usually has nowhere else to go but the machine’s oil. In one study of 750 machines, oil analysis was able to detect bearing faults 67% of the time, while another show that oil analysis provided 15 times earlier detection of impending failure than other methods.

Infrared thermography scans will let you determine if your machines are running too hot and pinpoint the precise problem. This technology can very quickly pay for itself.

The East Coast Industries website has an excellent explanation of Vibration Analysis: It has been shown many times over that the vibration of an operating machine provides far more information about the inner workings of that machine than any other type of nondestructive test. A bearing that has a small developing fault will cause a tell-tale change in the machine’s vibration, as will a weight imbalance condition, a shaft or coupling misalignment, or any of a myriad of other faults.

Ultrasound can also provide insights into conditions such as improper lubrication.

Part of the beauty of a good CMMS is that you can track the results you find from any of these tools, and act accordingly. Using these condition-based tools can get you into the predictive / proactive maintenance realm, where costs can be as low as only 25% or so of the maintenance costs in the run-to-failure realm. Now, that’s equipment management. And maintenance management.

You don’t need a laboratory full of equipment management hardware to start seeing the benefits. Tracking and managing the condition of your equipment can begin with something as simple as instituting regular inspections. The specifics aren’t as important as the broader commitment to the principles of effective organization, management, and Preventive maintenance.