It’s the question that anyone with responsibility for warehouse equipment has to consider: if the equipment is faulty, do you repair or replace?
This is especially true of the loading bay, where inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and downtime compete directly against the efficiencies that are built into an organisation’s profit structures. Equipment that keeps going wrong also presents other challenges, and in the worst-case scenario can even put lives at risk.
Ideally, the equipment doesn’t fail in the first place, but age, wear and tear, and human error/equipment misuse are all factors that will inevitably impact reliability and performance. Most of these issues, however, can be addressed through professional maintenance, and through a dedicated Planned Maintenance Programme (PMP). So what should a professional PMP look like and what benefits would you expect to gain?
Adopting a proactive, preventative approach to equipment maintenance through a PMP helps prevent unpleasant surprises. It enables you, for example, to keep track of aging parts. Parts sometimes have to be replaced or phased out because they have reached end of life or they are no longer available. Having this visibility, and being able to document what needs replacing and when, means that parts can be swapped out before they fail, avoiding any unnecessary disruption in production.
Taking a planned approach also enables you to accommodate downtime and put you in control of your equipment, rather than the other way around. If repairs and maintenance projects are planned in advance, then downtime can be scheduled when it is convenient for you and your team and less costly for operations and your business. Yes, there will always be an element of disruption, but such disruption can be kept to an absolute minimum.
In terms of business intelligence, a PMP also helps you collect data which in turn supports you in making better budgeting decisions (at an asset management level). For example, if your asset management agreement works with smart industrial software solutions, smart technology or interval-level data collection (like how many truck loads arrive/depart in a typical day) then a PMP can help you more precisely measure and predict what will happen to your equipment and when, mitigating the risk of failure.
Some areas of the warehouse, like loading bay equipment, are considered invisible in the sense that, when fully operational, it’s easy to forget the equipment is there. Another advantage to a PMP is that it takes care of the ancillary things so the team can focus their attention elsewhere.
With current economic uncertainty, rising energy prices and fuel bills, it is not surprising that warehouses, distribution centres, cold storage facilities and other logistics operations are looking hard at where efficiencies can be gained. In some cases, it means keeping ageing machinery working for longer. And this is, of course, where professional maintenance has a vital role to play.
Any PMP, however, is only as good as the teams delivering the service, and the skills of the maintenance technicians. In choosing a maintenance partner, therefore, work with an organisation whose technicians undergo extensive training throughout their careers and constantly measure their skills both practically (in the field) and through continuing education or computer-based learning. It is this training and experience that enables them to examine the equipment and determine what needs to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded. It is this training and experience too that supports you in managing a more efficient and effective operation.
By Thorsten Mauritz at Rite-Hite