Two male technicians are standing in an industrial plant. The technician on the left is holding an iPad and speaking to the co-worker on the right, who is looking intently at the iPad.

Why Is Regular Plant Maintenance Important?

Whether you’re running a food and beverage processing plant, casting foundry, or oil refinery, routine plant maintenance is essential. Without routine maintenance, you increase the risk of employee injuries, broken machinery, and production losses. Furthermore, when producing products for the average consumer, failing to maintain production equipment can result in public health safety issues

Although maintenance is a time commitment, with some larger maintenance projects taking up to two weeks to complete, it’s a necessary task that should be done at least once a year.

What Is Plant Maintenance?

Plant maintenance is a system of procedures that help keep a manufacturing plant safe and productive. An intelligent maintenance plan preemptively accounts for possible problems and addresses them before they occur. Of course, even with the best planning, there will always be unexpected malfunctions and breakdowns that require spontaneous maintenance services.

Goals of Plant Maintenance

Like any business undertaking, the primary goal of plant maintenance is to propagate long-term profit. Routine maintenance helps achieve profitability by:

  • Minimizing Downtime
  • Fixing Existing Problems
  • Improving Safety & Decreasing Accidents & Product Recalls
  • Ensuring Machinery & Components Are Working Efficiently

Risks Associated With Skipping Maintenance

As mentioned earlier, many risks are associated with infrequent plant maintenance. These include:

Unsafe Workplace

Failure to maintain production equipment properly and regularly in a manufacturing plant leads to machinery breakdowns, which puts operators at increased risk for injury. It also increases the need for costly machinery repairs and replacements.

More Equipment Breakdowns

A well-planned and executed maintenance strategy stops minor problems from growing into significantly expensive issues. Machines that have not been inspected and serviced as needed are much more likely to function poorly and eventually break down. Routine plant maintenance reduces the probability of equipment malfunction and breakdown, which, in turn, helps to keep employees safer while also sustaining peak production levels.

Product Safety Issues

Lastly, depending on which industry you work in, insufficient plant maintenance can also lead to product safety issues. Loose components, including bearings and fasteners, could fall off the equipment into consumer products. And if industrial equipment isn’t kept well-lubricated, the friction that is formed between multiple parts can result in metal flaking off of the components and into consumer products.

How to Prevent Mistakes During Maintenance Implementation

Human mistakes are the top cause of manufacturing plant accidents and injuries, workplace pollution, machinery and product damage, and loss of life. Some of the most common human errors result from slip-and-falls, physical and mental fatigue, chronic stress, safety code infractions, and technical issues.

There are several effective methods for reducing the likelihood of human error mistakes during plant maintenance implementation, including process automation, continuous staff training, and standardizing operational procedures.

Process Automation

Process automation in a manufacturing plant can improve process accuracy and consistency by minimizing human involvement.

Industrial robots will follow their programmed instructions without failure, reduce human operator exposure to dangerous scenarios, and have built-in safety switches to cease production instantly if safe production protocols are violated.

Various automation technologies are available, from basic sequence control systems to highly complex robots that perform intricate tasks without error or fatigue.

Extensive/Continuous Staff Training

Continuous, ongoing staff training is imperative for the long-term success of any company in any industry. On-the-job technician training programs focus on:

  • Bolstering Technical Capabilities
  • Introducing & Explaining Safety Policies
  • Instructing Technicians in Troubleshooting & Repairing Asset Defects

Forward-thinking companies utilize ongoing training programs to equip technicians with deep knowledge of machinery diagnosis. The goal is to provide the necessary skills for technicians to identify and correct minor problems autonomously.

Standardizing Operating Procedures

Humans are prone to honest mistakes and deliberate protocol infractions, both of which can decrease workplace safety and production. There’s always the possibility that any given staff member will choose to modify or skip procedural steps.

Furthermore, ambiguous or unclear policies and procedures lead to even more human errors, accidents, injuries, and slowed production. That’s why implementing company-wide procedural standardization is so important, as it equips your teams with clearly defined safety and operational protocols.

Essential Maintenance Tips

Consider the following plant maintenance tips to maximize your facility’s long-term safety and success:

  1. Be consistent in isolating, storing, and locking explosives and toxic chemicals.
  2. Always follow operating instructions provided by equipment manufacturers.
  3. Create an efficient, easy-to-use system for staff to report machinery issues.
  4. Stick to a detailed, regular maintenance schedule.

Lastly, always be sure that plant construction and maintenance projects are carried out by competent, qualified individuals, whether it’s someone on your team or an outside contractor.

Request Plant Maintenance Services From IICC

Founded over 60 years ago, IICC is a family-owned and -operated industrial construction contractor. We specialize in time-sensitive plant construction, plant maintenance, heavy rigging, millwright, equipment installation, and shutdown/turnaround services across multiple industries. No matter what type of project we’re working on, customers can rely on us for quality workmanship, competitive pricing, and a safety-first attitude. 

Contact us today if you have questions about plant maintenance or want to learn more about our services.