Lean Thinking Applied To Facility Maintenance

Reliability maintenance systems are one of the greatest investments your team can make to reduce costs and improve facility performance. Reliability and preventative maintenance reduce breakdowns, improve team efficiency, and improve quality across the board, all while reducing costs. In many ways, this system of maintenance planning is similar to the systems of Lean management, or the Deming philosophy used often in manufacturing industries. 

However, reliability and Lean thinking come at a cost. They are centered around the idea that all procedures within a system should add value, rather than repair or plan for disaster. They task the facility manager with the responsibility of questioning the system and constantly improving it. This is no easy feat, and can lead to costly mistakes or trepidatious forward movement that doesn’t provide true change. 

In order to fully integrate Lean management into your facility maintenance plan, your plan requires these three principles:

  • Eliminate waste in the form of preventative maintenance that doesn’t add value (that which only responds or prepares for failure)
  • Optimize the preventative maintenance tasks that are left so that their results are amplified 
  • Analyze and adjust routinely to avoid complacency with current mental models

First, you must take a hard look at the current systems and “mental models” (or mindsets governing your procedures) that are determining your preventative care. It is likely that at least 30% or more is being budgeted for preventative tasks that simply try to avoid failure rather than add value. If your preventative maintenance plan is designed around potential failures, you will eventually face them. However, if you design your preventative maintenance plan around optimal success, you can more easily navigate toward it and avoid failure altogether. 

Of the preventative tasks that are remaining, you must then adopt lean tools that will accelerate them. Communication tools, work order management software, and improved maintenance protocols are all tools you can use to maximize the benefits of your most effective preventative steps. This is where you’ll start to see positive feedback loops emerge and facility performance gain forward momentum. 

Finally, as new Lean practices fall into routine, it’s important to analyze them in comparison to both your former models, as well as your higher goals. This begins the process over again, where you can find new areas for improvement and continue adopting your maintenance system to the changing environment. 

MaintenX works with our clients to create lean preventative maintenance services that add value, save time, and lower your overall maintenance budget. To learn more about preventative maintenance methods, tools, and our services, contact your local team today!

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