Emergency maintenance preparation is a vital part of any organization’s maintenance management strategy. The ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to unforeseen equipment breakdowns or emergencies is the key difference between experiencing minimum downtime and incurring significant productivity losses. Maintenance teams may detect and handle possible concerns before they become major issues, avoiding costly repairs and limiting the impact on the organization’s operations and financial performance. This process involves implementing preventative measures, creating emergency response plans, and performing regular maintenance inspections to ensure that equipment is in good operating order. In this way, organizations can avoid costly repairs, maintain optimal production levels, and ensure a safe and efficient work environment.
Purchasing Assurance – Disaster Preparedness in Maintenance Management
A maintenance manager at a large corporate site has a factory and dozens of corporate buildings which are supplied by power running through one large transformer that would cost $100,000 to replace. Inside the factory, there are four packaging lines and if just one of those lines goes down, it would cost the corporation $50,000/hour in losses. Thousands of people work at the corporate site. If the transformer was struck by lightning or for some other reason failed, imagine the enormous financial loss. When big transformers blow up, it’s not like you just make a phone call and have a new one delivered that day and replace the old transformer. It can take days to manufacture a large transformer. Do you think it might be prudent to have a backup transformer wired up and ready to go if the main transformer decides to fail?
A maintenance manager that has a $1,000,000 payroll budget is going to balk at spending another $100,000 on a hypothetical situation that might never occur. No one blinks an eyelash at all the insurances we are required to legally have for hypothetical situations that rarely occur. What about purchasing assurance by reviewing the major systems that your clients absolutely need to have up and running and assuring that you are prepared if and when a disaster situation strikes?
Talk with your Maintenance Workers
The first and most important step in preparing for disastrous situations is to talk to your very own workers about the major systems they take care of and ask them to identify the most critical systems in your company’s infrastructure.
For example, you might have a thousand people on a corporate site being cooled in the heat of the summer by one chiller. If that chiller goes does because of a disastrous situation, almost everyone is going home until the A/C comes back on. That chiller is a critical system. Your workers should be able to identify the disastrous and practical situations that could happen to that chiller and come up with a competent plan to prepare. What emergency parts might you want to have on hand locked up in a place designated just for that chiller? Do those parts have a shelf life? Is it worth considering having a backup chiller or is just having the major parts of the chiller on hand enough preparation? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask your workers.
Maintenance workers often become experts in taking care of specific systems on your site. They take pride and joy in being responsible for the systems they maintain. When dealing with sincere, competent, great workers, having them take pride and ownership of maintaining their systems is a great thing. One hurdle to expect when readying for emergency preparedness is that even great maintenance workers often become rattled initially because they are fearful that management is preparing to take away their responsibility of maintaining the systems they have taken ownership of. This is normal and to be expected. Depending on your situation, you might need to reassure your workers that you are sincerely preparing for disasters and not planning on taking away their maintenance kingdoms. After you have implemented a few disaster plans, they will sense the sincerity of your project. Long term, they will understand the need for this project, especially when disaster strikes and you guys were prepared.
Talk with your Engineering Department
Your engineers should be able to identify the critical electrical and mechanical systems that support your site and inform you of what kind of catastrophic failures could happen. What would happen if there is a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, fire, or lightning strike? Identify where large financial losses could happen due to different system failures and be prepared.
Talk with your Customer Managers
Ask your customer managers to identify the most critical systems that maintenance would be expected to fix if there was a critical failure. For example, if you are supporting a large number of laboratories that regularly use purified water, your water purification system is probably a critical system. What can go wrong with that system and what can you do to practically be prepared?
Identify Where Expensive Materials and Items are Stored
Ask your customer managers where they might store expensive materials that maintenance should be aware of. For example, if they store $500,000 worth of laboratory material in a freezer, what can you do to ensure that the electrical circuit breaker for that freezer does not trip? Maybe you need to implement SOPs for when freezers are moved from one outlet to another. You need to educate your customers that plugging too many freezers into one outlet can trip a circuit breaker at 3 am on Friday when all their compressors finally decide to kick on at the same time. When that happens, they will return on Monday morning to find a million dollars of destroyed products in their failed freezers. In this type of situation, your customers need to understand when maintenance needs to be called in and why. If they do not understand why maintenance needs to be involved, they will not want to get maintenance involved which can lead to a large financial loss.
Prepare a Physical Storage Location for Disaster Preparedness
So you talked with your maintenance workers about how to prepare for a disaster with the chiller and you developed a plan and you are all prepared. Now it is five years later and those guys no longer work in your department. Maybe they retired or moved on to greener pastures. You need to have a physically designated location containing physical notes and information on what has been prepared in the event of a disaster with any of your critical systems. Your staff and workers need to review these physical files on a yearly basis and when they are hired to ensure they are familiar with what has been prepared and what to do in case of a disaster. You should specify where materials and items have been stored in preparation and periodically make sure those items are still there in storage as they should be. You need to identify if outside contractors might need to be called in and have their phone numbers stored in that file as well.
You need to make a list of all the systems you want to be prepared for and set priorities based on how critical the system is, how expensive it will be to prepare, and how much manpower you need in order to prepare. You might be able to be prepared within a year for all the systems you identified. It might take you five or more years. By identifying the critical systems, you can put together a plan to show your upper management and then you can sensibly budget for it.
Hindsight is 20/20 – Learn from Your Experiences and Your Mistakes
If a disastrous situation strikes one of your critical systems and you did not foresee this happening, maybe you want to incorporate it into your future disaster plans. It might be too late after the fact but it also might not be too late. Hopefully, you still have your job and maybe you can be better prepared if there is a next time.
Periodically Review Your Disaster Procedures
By periodically reviewing your disaster preparedness procedures with the appropriate maintenance staff, you will not only be better prepared, but you will also be training your employees to keep an open eye out for systems that you might have missed that should be added to your emergency preparedness plan. You will also be reinforcing in your workers the need to look ahead and be prepared for future trouble with all the systems they maintain.
An essential tool for any successful maintenance program is proactive maintenance software that facilitates data capture, analysis, and management. eWorkOrders CMMS is an innovative and cost-effective means to incorporate intelligent analytics into maintenance practices and drive proactive, data-centric solutions. Intuitive and user-friendly dashboards and features make advanced maintenance processes logical and accessible. CMMS asset management and reporting functions are also ideally suited to proactive maintenance activities, converting information on equipment lifespan, performance, and repair into tangible, actionable metrics.