Equipment comes with a hidden expiration date. Unlike a carton of milk, you won’t find the exact date your machines “go sour” printed on the label. How well you maintain your tools determines their durability and longevity in the field.
Repairs and replacements rank among the highest costs of doing business in manufacturing. However, through regular quality inspections, spiralling maintenance costs can be avoided.
The Impact of Poor Maintenance
Substandard short-term maintenance leads to significant long-term problems:
- Extended downtime cuts into profits
- Crippled production causes delays
- Increased expenses from overtime and outsourcing
- Replaced equipment forces allocations from the budget
Financial obstacles like these can be tough to swallow, but they’re especially frustrating if those costs could have been avoided with scheduled quality control audits.
Prevention Is Better than the Cure
Reducing maintenance costs means making inspections a habit and keeping easily accessible records.
Quality control inspections prevent unexpected equipment failure. By identifying and rectifying issues early, you can minimize downtime and eliminate the need for expensive replacements.
In the UK, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) make maintenance a legal requirement. These regulations state:
“All work equipment be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient order, and in good repair; where any machinery has a maintenance log, the log is kept up to date; and that maintenance operations on work equipment can be carried out safely.”
In the US, preventative maintenance is required under Occupational Health and Safety Administration Regulations (OSHA). Other countries have similar guidelines for OSHA inspection, all set up to ensure organizations prioritize equipment safety.
The Benefits of Keeping Equipment Maintenance Records
The potential penalties of poor maintenance should be enough for any company to introduce equipment maintenance record-keeping. Consider the benefits of proactive maintenance using better data collection:
- Avoid expensive repairs — Equipment deteriorates under constant use. Regular inspections prevent minor malfunctions from becoming full-blown breakdowns.
- Ensure the safety of operators — It is incredibly dangerous to operate equipment that has not been historically maintained. Doing so increases the likelihood of accidents, putting operators at risk and making your company liable for damages. Documented safety inspections and a track record of repairs help to ensure a safe working environment.
- Avoid warranty problems — If you receive defective equipment, maintenance records with dated inspections and documented repairs help you determine your warranty rights and strengthen claims.
- Keep track of equipment accountability — Routine quality inspection audits track who is responsible for maintenance and incident reports. Monitoring this data is essential if multiple operators use the same equipment.
- Increase equipment resale value — regular maintenance lessens wear and tear, and it allows machinery to perform at optimum levels. Consistent, documented upkeep maintains the market value of equipment.
When to Carry out Maintenance Checks
The Health and Safety Executive recommends that the frequency and nature of maintenance be determined by risk assessment, taking the following into account:
- Manufacturer recommendations
- Intensity of use
- Operating environment (temperature, corrosion, weathering, etc.)
- User knowledge and experience
- Risk of health and safety from failure of malfunction
The more intense the usage and risk to safety, the more frequent quality inspections should be.
Implementing Mobile Quality Control Solutions for Effective Maintenance Inspections
A simple checklist is the best way to ensure operators, supervisors, and managers know what to look for when inspecting equipment. It also prevents your inspectors from overlooking important aspects of a quality audit.
When implementing your checklist, it’s best to opt for quality control software over spreadsheets for several reasons:
- Digital footprint — Creating an audit trail makes it easier to keep track of previous maintenance checks and assess historical data. If inspections are being carried out in the field, data will be synced with a central database and documented instantly without the need for mail or fax correspondence.
- Instant notifications — In the event of a failure, mobile forms can instantly alert the appropriate personnel. For example, if a specific part is broken, notifications allow replacements to be ordered and repairs booked in within minutes.
- Field validations — Inaccurate data entry results in misaligned inspection records and incorrect part orders. Field validation eliminates human error, keeping critical details such as equipment IDs and personnel credentials intact.
- Accountability — Mobile forms allow you to ensure where, when, and by whom inspections are completed. This lets you find and consult the right people when discrepancies arise. In the event of an accident, tracking accountability can determine who is liable.
Equipment maintenance is only expensive when regular inspections are neglected. Mobile forms make checks easier – from anywhere and at any time. They instantly relay information back to decision makers so the safety and integrity of machinery can last for the long haul.
Now, you can carry out equipment maintenance inspections with ease.