How do Maintenance Experts Know when to Repair, Replace, or Upgrade Equipment?
When something goes wrong, will you repair the equipment? Replace it? Upgrade it? How do the professionals decide? Wear and tear, aging, and human error are all factors to expect and plan for during your equipment’s lifespan.
Importance of Reliable Equipment for the Warehouse and Loading Dock
Any business that has product throughput goals relies on well maintained equipment for profitability. This is especially true for:
- Distribution Centers
- Cold Storage and Supply Chain Providers
Inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and downtime compete directly against the efficiencies that are built into these industries’ profit structures.
Three Tenets for a Good Maintenance Team
In order for the equipment to keep running smoothly, specialized maintenance teams need to have a pulse on each machine’s performance.
- Is it the right capacity?
- Is it the right piece of equipment for the environment?
- How do we identify small problems before they become large problems?
The last point is very important. Good maintenance teams, especially those with highly trained maintenance technicians, aim to keep the equipment running as it should, so any problems can be detected as quickly and as early as possible. Remember, it will always be less costly to use a preventative approach to avoid emergency breakdowns and trouble-shoot an equipment issue while the problem is still small, versus trying to fix a much larger, unplanned problem. In that sense, having a professional maintenance team is a form of capital preservation.
What are the Advantages of Planning for Maintenance in the Warehouse?
These three guiding principles can be powerful when combined with a highly trained maintenance team and Planned Maintenance Program (PMP).
PMPs will provide customized service that fits your facility’s needs:
- PMPs grant access to skilled maintenance technicians. Specialized maintenance technicians undergo extensive training throughout their careers and constantly measure their skills both practically (in the field) and through continuing education or computer based learning. Their training and experience allows them to examine the equipment and determine what needs to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded.
- PMPs prevent big surprises. Having a PMP works well not only to keep a pulse on operational equipment, but also allows for planned downtime. If repairs and maintenance projects can be planned ahead of time, then downtime can be scheduled when it is convenient for the team and less costly for operations.
- PMPs keep track of aging parts. Parts sometimes have to be replaced or phased out because they are no longer being produced. With PMPs, equipment and their parts have documented lifespans and maintenance technicians should have the right parts in stock (or a plan to replace obsolete machines).
- PMPs worry about the ancillary things so the team can focus elsewhere. Some areas of the warehouse, like loading dock equipment, are considered invisible in the sense that, when fully operational, it’s easy to forget it is there.
- PMPs collect data to make better budgeting decisions (asset management level only). If your asset management agreement works with smart industrial software solutions, smart technology or interval-level data collection (like how many truck loads in a day) then PMPs offer an advantage to more precisely measure and predict what will happen to your equipment and when.
When to stop maintaining and repairing and start upgrading equipment
A professional maintenance team and their specialized maintenance technicians will recommend upgrades if any of the below conditions justify the expense:
- Does the current machine follow industry best practices?
- What is the ROI of current repairs and what is the break even point?
- Are there other returns associated with an upgrade (warranty, time, energy, noise, temperature, environmental separation, sealing)?
- How does this equipment impact the safety of our workers?
- Does this upgrade move us closer to planned or even predictive maintenance (especially smart equipment or software upgrades)?
- Is there value in increasing the efficiency and productivity of this process?
Let’s focus on the last point. If an upgrade can put time back into the operation or let the machine do most of the work, there will always be added value in that option.
For example, how much money and time can be saved by replacing a pull chain with a hydraulic dock leveler? The operator no longer needs to walk onto the dock or onto the truck and strain over physically pulling a pulley/lever system every single time an order is ready. If a push of a button can shave time off and increase safety at the loading dock every truckload then the ROI made over time would result in a confident equipment replacement recommendation. Your maintenance team should be able to assist with building a Loading Dock Capital Expenditure Budget that fits your facility's needs.
Your Local Service Team has Skilled Technicians and PMP Programs
A trained professional service representative, who knows your facility and prioritizes your bottom line, makes an impactful, money-saving difference to your maintenance plans.
When you are ready to shift away from uncertain service decisions and reactive maintenance, get in touch with your local Rite-Hite service representative. We’re here to help!