As you approach maintenance season, do you feel ready for your annual shutdown? Have you got everything planned, or do you fear that when you get into the main equipment there are going to be some nasty surprises in store?
So much of the success of a maintenance shutdown depends on the planning. I’ve written before about how best to do that, but in this article I wanted to talk about one of the most useful tools in your arsenal and how to make the most of it to ensure your shutdowns progress smoothly.
The ERP Maintenance Module
Many cement companies operate an ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning tool – to streamline business operations. It covers the entire process, from raw material stocks to finances to human resources and everything in between. But one of the most critical elements of the ERP is the maintenance module. This module is key to planning for both day-to-day tasks and for the annual repair.
You can use it to plan inspections and to record the results of those inspections, to plan maintenance and to keep a record of work carried out, manage both human and material resources and develop your overall reliability strategy. The more data you record, the better you can plan work to be done. It has the potential to be a self-perpetuating – and, in fact, self-improving – instrument of reliability…if it is used properly. But how do you make sure you’re doing that?
What should be included in the ERP?
Before we look at the level of detail required, it’s worth mentioning first that it’s important to designate the task of updating the ERP. Without assigning this job to specific people, you run the risk of it being one of those jobs that everyone thinks someone else is doing. Incomplete records are more of a hazard than a help, so make sure you allocate ‘ownership’ of the ERP Maintenance Module to specific personnel, or that you have a system in place to ensure it is continuously updated. This is generally achieved by having a strong Planning Department within the plant structure.
In terms of what should be going into it, we recommend that engineers focus on building job plans to plan the daily workload. In order that anything that needs to be monitored can be and any actions that are required at the annual repair can be planned in, every job plan should include detail of:
• The resources needed – people, spare parts and tools
• How long the work should take
• The method for doing the job
• What should be checked so that this information can be fed back to the engineers.
This information allows you to not only allocate personnel in the daily and weekly planning, but also enables you to assess the effectiveness of workers on the job and providing additional training if required. A job taking additional time may also indicate there is a problem with the equipment, which is why effective feedback to the Engineers is so valuable. The feedback can then be used for additional monitoring if required or inclusion for corrective work in the annual shutdown plan.
Using the ERP to manage spare parts
The maintenance module of the ERP is also a key tool for managing spare parts inventory – again, if used appropriately. By looking at the data on usage rate, the minimum and maximum spare parts levels for each part can be identified, allowing you to schedule automatic purchase orders for smaller items. Ensuring that the stocks of parts are not excessive helps manage the plant’s cashflow and will help to avoid obsolete parts. Maintaining a minimum stock will also ensure that the plant isn’t stopped because a part isn’t available. Managing ordering and usage of parts through the one system prevents multiple orders of the same part, as well as parts being used without the stock data being brought up to date.
Saving the leg work
Though it might sound like extra work to capture all this data, the reality is that the savings produced by proper use of the maintenance module – both in time and money – are worth that extra effort. Plus, the ERP is paperless, which shortens the time for sign off on work and purchases.
However, ERP systems are expensive and time consuming to implement so it is absolutely essential that they are used correctly after all the resources have been used to install it. JAMCEM has extensive experience in the best practice maintenance module installation, operating practices and personnel. If you are planning to install one or feel you aren’t getting enough out of your existing system – contact us!