Regular preventive maintenance of your packaging equipment, like changing the oil in your car, is one of the best ways to eliminate production interruptions, and protect your valuable investment. Preventive maintenance isn’t a necessary and urgent thing, so it can be easily put off whenever we are loaded with more pressing priorities. If it goes on long enough, the chances of downtime and failure—usually at the worst possible time it seems—increases and we even risk costly damage to the equipment.

Here are four simple steps for creating an easy, cost-saving PM program without draining your resources or adding more people.

  1. Focus on the simple things first- With most equipment there are usually one or two simple maintenance activities that have the biggest impact and are almost always pretty easy to do—like changing the air filter in your furnace regularly. Use the old “80/20 rule” (20% of the things will give 80% of the benefits) and make sure these few things get done all the time, as part of the regular routine–every shift, day, week, or whatever is called for.
  2. Visible Cues and Checklists- As with anything the more visible it is the harder it is to ignore and the more likely it will be done. Not sure if you need to change the oil in your car? That sticker in the corner of your windshield makes it much easier to keep on schedule. Checklists where we sign and date when PM actions have been done reinforce accountability and serve as a reminder—like the forms you see in some restaurant washrooms or on public elevators.
  3. Transfer “ownership” to the front line- We all know that when people own something they take care of better and treat it more carefully than when it’s “someone else’s problem”. When the people operating the equipment take responsibility for basic uptime and smooth operation of the machine, the important PM activities get done more routinely and with less disruption. Not every PM activity is simple enough to be easily transferred to the front lines, for sure, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing those which don’t require a high level of expertise.
  4. Build in Manageable steps- Sure it would be nice to have a robust, complete PM program for every piece of equipment you own, exactly to the manufacturer’s specs. But let’s face it that’s impractical—and probably unnecessary—for most companies. So do it in steps and expand it gradually over time. Start with your most critical equipment—the most expensive and most vital to your operation—and work down the list.

Follow these simple steps to kick-start your PM program. As you go you’ll be cutting your lost time, lowering your costs, and extending the life of your investments.

Your equipment and service providers should be able to provide you with more tips and specific PM information. The Shipper’s service team is always ready to help if you need.

Leave a comment or share your PM tips with us—we’re always looking for more great ideas.