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5 COMMON EQUIPMENT-RELATED MISTAKES: HOW TO AVOID THEM

6 September 2018

5 COMMON EQUIPMENT-RELATED MISTAKES: HOW TO AVOID THEM

Purchasing, operating, and maintaining equipment are no easy tasks—and mistakes can be costly and far-reaching. Over the years, we’ve heard from many companies who regretted some decisions they’d made in the past and wished they could turn back time.

Here are five common mistakes and, most importantly, what you can do to avoid them.


1. BUYING EQUIPMENT WITHOUT CONSIDERING YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS AND STRATEGIES

Whenever you’re buying new machines or retrofitting old ones to improve their performance, you need to plan for the future. What are your company’s current production requirements, and how do you expect them to change going forward?
Do you plan on expanding your business? You don’t want your packaging line to become a bottleneck that will drag down your entire operation.

You need to find equipment that will fit your needs and support your company’s growth for many years to come. Investing more money today can save you a lot of trouble down the line.


2.   BUYING EQUIPMENT WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT ITS LIFE CYCLE

You think you’ve found the perfect equipment? Great—now ask the company about customer support. How big is their support team? Do they offer a direct line for technical assistance? Can they train your operation and maintenance staff? Can they connect to your equipment remotely for swift and inexpensive troubleshooting? Do they have qualified technicians near you who can quickly travel to your location if needed?

Even your dream equipment can turn into a nightmare if the manufacturer is unable or unwilling to provide support. Always buy from a company with an extensive team of dedicated specialists.


3.  PROVIDING INSUFFICIENT TRAINING

Training must be discussed from the very beginning and must be included in the project schedule. Identify your key operation and maintenance employees from all shifts, and make sure they’re involved early on, starting with installation and commissioning. They will become “champions” who can later teach the rest of your team.

Scheduling a visit from a field service technician one or two months after the installation can be a great opportunity for additional training. By then, your people will have worked with the equipment and will most likely have questions. You and the manufacturer should agree on the scope of the visit in advance to make sure you have enough time for both servicing and training.
You could also sign an on-site service agreement that includes at least two visits per year. Technician visits can be a good opportunity for continuing or refresher training.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be proactive—reach out for help before things start to go wrong.


4.   SKIMPING ON PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

Taking good care of your equipment will go a long way toward keeping it in good working order, extending its lifespan, and avoiding downtime. Here are some key preventive maintenance practices:

  • Always keep your equipment clean.
  • Stick to your preventive maintenance schedule.
  • Ask your top mechanics to write detailed inspection and maintenance procedures.
  • Perform daily, weekly, and monthly inspections. For instance, the operator could do a quick check at the start of every shift, and the maintenance crew could do a complete inspection on Monday mornings.
  • Keep track of the work done during preventive and reactive maintenance. You can use this data to identify the root causes of problems and to adapt your maintenance program accordingly.


5.   NOT HAVING SPARE PARTS ON HAND

Let’s say that your plant has best-in-class health and safety procedures and hasn’t had a workplace accident in years. Do you throw away your first aid kit? Of course not—you need it just in case something happens. The same goes for spare parts: Not even the best preventive maintenance practices can prevent normal wear and tear.

Your equipment manufacturer can provide a list of recommended spare parts to start with. Keeping records of your spare part orders and analyzing data from your preventive maintenance program will then help you to identify which parts you need the most, and when you should order them to minimize downtime. A good rule of thumb is to order a replacement whenever you use a spare part from your inventory.


Knowledge is the key to avoiding most equipment pitfalls. Make sure you know what you need, who you’re buying from, how your equipment works, and what you can do to keep it in tip-top condition. Your equipment manufacturer should be able to help you identify your needs, to answer your questions, and to provide support as required.

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