How to Extend The Life of Your Machinery: Maintenance & Repair

Two people conducting machinery maintenance spot check in a large industrial factory.

How to Extend The Life of Your Machinery: Maintenance & Repair

Industrial machinery and equipment are built for constant and punishing use, but even the most durable piece of equipment has its limits. When improperly cared for, a piece of equipment can break, creating a gap in your manufacturing line and downtime that could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Depending on the severity of the damage, you’re also looking at additional related costs in repair and rebuilding or even replacement of the equipment. In this post, The Equipment Hub will explore the importance of industrial machinery maintenance for your heavy equipment and the impact proper care can have on your equipment and your bottom line. 

Follow along as we explore industrial machinery repair tips and answer the question of how to get the longest life out of your machinery.

Machinery Maintenance Best Practices: Train, Maintain and Repair

Many of the problems that result in repairs having to be made to industrial equipment stem not from faulty equipment but from poor ownership practices. Industrial machinery tends to run in the five to six-figure range in terms of costs, with some large equipment bordering on seven figures in value. 

They are extremely expensive capital investments, and it would benefit your operation greatly to take care of your investments and take a highly proactive approach to ongoing maintenance and care.

Trained Operators Operate Machinery Correctly

While training is generally provided on new machinery by the manufacturer, employee rotation and turnover means that you need to have a robust training plan in place for onboarding new employees. You should also consider ongoing skills development and easy-to-access training and emergency materials for employees as a safety precaution.

Regardless of the size of your operation, each piece of equipment is likely to have multiple operators using it at any given point in time. In order to ensure each operator is using the equipment properly, every piece of equipment should have a comprehensive checklist assigned to it, and that list should be completed at shift changes to ensure accountability by all responsible parties. This instills a culture of care and ownership in the employees, ensuring that regardless of who is using what equipment, their first concern is to double-check the equipment to ensure it’s been properly maintained. 

Be Liberal with the Lubricants

The inner workings of industrial machinery include gears, pistons, oil seals, and other mechanisms that all must be lubricated in order to function correctly. Lubricant testing and replenishment should be a constant on any equipment checklist, machinery maintenance plan, daily routine, and ongoing maintenance plan you might put into place. Available machinery documentation should make it very clear and accessible as to what sorts of oil and lubricant are required and ample supplies kept readily accessible. 

Lubricant testing should be a part of all scheduled machinery maintenance, as experts can determine and diagnose problems just through the particles that appear in used oil and the makeup of contaminants in lubricant can pinpoint the cause of a breakdown. 

Spot Checks for Signs of Wear

When running, industrial machines generate extreme levels of heat and friction while gears and belts in motion cause vibrations throughout. When well-maintained and properly cared for, none of these things will cause issues. If operated incorrectly, or if there is no preventative maintenance plan in place, and the machine goes unserviced, then a number of standard operations become the catalyst for major damage to the machine. 

Vibrations become the cause of alignment issues in belt drives, friction build-up can burn out components when lubricants aren’t properly maintained, and the age of components can lead to seals drying and cracking and bolts stripping. Making a point to check these things regularly through a vibration analysis as part of an organized checklist will keep the machine operating within expected parameters.

A Clean Environment Makes for a Happy Machine

Many large pieces of machinery have seals and filters to allow necessary filtration levels to prevent overheating and keep internal parts free from contamination. If the work environment isn’t cleaned regularly, and these filters and seals aren’t swapped out and cleaned, then you risk extensive damage to the piece of machinery due to such exposure to internal contaminants. Exposure to moisture and the elements can have similarly catastrophic results on equipment and all efforts should be taken to protect your machinery from these catalysts of potential rust and rot. 

Preventative Machinery Maintenance Program and Repair Schedule

All of this to say that you need to have a plan in place that is preventive and comprehensive in scope. Manufacturers generally provide comprehensive maintenance guidelines for any piece of machinery, and these guidelines should include every system and component of the machine. This ensures all of the fluids and moving parts of the machine will at some point be checked and properly maintained by professionals trained in maintaining the equipment. Records of machinery maintenance and any repairs performed between maintenance cycles should be maintained. This ensures that if issues do arise, maintenance and repair personnel can have an accurate record of what’s been done with the machine, what tests have been run, and where the machine is in its maintenance cycle.

The Impact of Reactive Repairs Vs. Preventative Maintenance

While aging equipment was the leading factor in unscheduled downtime in 2018 for manufacturing companies, the next three top leading causes of unscheduled downtime are preventable. Operator Error, Lack of Time to Perform Maintenance, and Lack of Maintenance accounted for a combined 43% of all unscheduled downtime. What is the impact of not having a preventative maintenance plan in place and being purely reactive and run-to-failure in your approach?

Aside from the obvious costs of downtime attributed to reduced productivity and labor costs, which according to 2016 data from Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) can cost an average of $300K per hour, you have the additional repair or replace costs, depending on how extensively the equipment has been damaged in the failure event.

Trusted Machinery Maintenance Specialists

From our facilities in Georgia, The Equipment Hub strives to provide industrial manufacturing solutions to our clients all over in order to connect manufacturers to the equipment they need to succeed. In addition to appraisal services to help our clients establish an accurate read of their on-hand equipment, at a local level we take a more hands-on approach and can provide our clients with machinery maintenance and repair services

Together, these services can help you to determine the condition and service needs of your existing equipment and manufacturing machinery. Contact our team today for more information on our services and to set up an appointment.