tna blog

Preventative maintenance & aftermarket service: Are you getting the most out of your equipment?

posted on 23 March, 2021 by - Group Aftermarket & Services Manager

2021 has in many ways brought a fresh start for the food industry, allowing manufacturers to look ahead to the post COVID-era, and tackle the challenges, changes and unsettled economic conditions brought by the pandemic with a renewed focus. With this in mind, producers are concentrating on smart ways to get more out of their current equipment to save money, ensure production continuity and mitigate the impact of fluctuating market conditions on their businesses.

One solution to this growing need for production resilience lies in the adoption of an effective preventative maintenance strategy, supported by a high quality, comprehensive aftermarket service offering from the equipment supplier. But what is preventative maintenance, how can it help producers safeguard their operations from economic uncertainty? And why is aftermarket service provision so critical to a maintenance strategy’s success? We caught up with Raj Singh, Group Aftermarket & Services Manager at tna, to find out more about the growing importance of preventative maintenance and the key benefits smarter servicing strategies can bring – from increased uptime to optimised efficiencies.

What is preventative maintenance?

“Preventative maintenance is the planned monitoring of equipment on a regular basis, regardless of current operational status, to reduce the risk of sudden stoppages or unexpected faults. It’s a little more complex and time consuming than reactive or corrective maintenance, where intervention is only carried out after a machine has developed an issue. In the long run, however, it can result in significant cost savings and valuable improvements in efficiency and safety. Preventative maintenance is also different from proactive maintenance, which focuses on how to mitigate system factors which cause wear and tear to equipment, with the goal of extending its operating life.”

How does an effective aftermarket service provision support preventative maintenance strategies?

“Aftermarket service includes everything producers need to keep their equipment running smoothly – from the timely supply and management of spare parts, to operator and maintenance training, advice on best practice and recommendations for equipment modernisation. A comprehensive 360° aftermarket service offering is critical to the success of any preventative maintenance strategy, because even with the most sophisticated preventative maintenance plan, unplanned downtime can’t be avoided completely.

In the context of the pandemic and the pressures it’s placing on food production lines, it’s especially important that manufacturers find an equipment supplier that can proactively support their equipment – not only from a service point of view, but also by improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Advanced aftermarket provision, including digital services that can operate effectively, even under tight coronavirus restrictions, is fast becoming a critical addition to a good preventative maintenance strategy.”

What role do aftermarket services like training, expert advice and strategy development play in establishing an effective preventative maintenance routine?

“Setting up regular, strategically scheduled equipment checks is key when it comes to delivering an effective preventative maintenance approach. To be certain of what factors need to be monitored during these inspections, how often they need to be carried out and by whom, food producers require comprehensive training from the equipment manufacturer. Aftermarket services, like training sessions and workshops, are therefore vital for ensuring operators gain the knowledge they need to create a preventative maintenance schedule, optimise equipment performance and reduce dependency on expert engineers to resolve routine issues.”

“Open communication and customer service availability is also crucial in making sure food producers can get in contact with equipment providers quickly should they need expert advice or to report more serious faults. This makes online customer portals that can offer 24/7 assistance an important aspect of aftermarket provision.”

How important are replacement parts and stock management in maintaining a good preventative maintenance strategy?

“For a preventative upkeep plan to be effective, producers should keep a supply of essential materials close to hand – for example specialist lubricants or spare parts only available from the equipment manufacturer. As a result, spare parts provision and advice on stock keeping best practice is a significant consideration and should be included as standard as part of any high-quality aftermarket service package. Having the right stock of genuine spare parts readily available enables producers to avoid costly shutdowns while essential parts are ordered and sourced, and also helps save and optimise storage space on the production site.”

How can equipment providers add extra value for their customers via their aftermarket service offering?

“One way equipment providers can add real value is to use data gathered after each scheduled equipment check in combination with digital aftermarket services. This could include Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital twins and machine learning, for example, to proactively monitor producers’ servicing needs and assess whether repairs or replacements are required.”

“The best aftermarket service providers also help their customers implement other service strategies – like predictive maintenance – and keep up to date with rapid technological developments to remain at the forefront of their respective industries through regular tune-ups and advice on when to upgrade machinery.”

What developments can we expect in the near future relating to aftermarket services and maintenance strategies?

“As we move into the post-COVID world, the dramatic leap forward in the development of smarter, remote-based service such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance, is likely to leave its mark. The crisis has rapidly accelerated the adoption of the digitally-focused predictive and preventative maintenance strategies that were already making waves before 2020, creating new industry standards. With equipment manufacturers now far better prepared to provide smart, efficient repair services, focus is even more likely to shift toward preventative maintenance, data gathering and equipment optimisation.”

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