The manufacturing and production industry in the UK is one with a proud heritage; British machinery, from cars to bespoke engineering developments, have defined the sector worldwide, and paved the way for new industrial innovation.
Today, British manufacturing and production bring over £350 billion in annually. But the day-to-day of factory environments in the UK, whatever the product or service, requires close attention; in particular, with regard to maintenance.
The Philosophy of Equipment Maintenance
The correct maintenance of workplace equipment and machinery is a fundamental discipline for ensuring the longevity of the facility. Maintenance prevents slowdowns in production or work, and thus prevents significant financial costs.
However, there is also a legal precedent for equipment maintenance; PUWER requires businesses to efficiently maintain equipment in order to protect employees from potential injury. But what does such maintenance look like?
Long-term maintenance plans are the bedrock of any engineering framework within an industrial setting, but short-term response to wear and malfunction is key to preventing larger issues from manifesting. A key component part to effective maintenance operations is procuring the right tools for the work. Many pieces of equipment are highly specialised, and require a specific degree of attention in order to ensure their ongoing operation.
For machinery with moving parts, lubrication is particularly important; some mechanical items can receive oil or grease via manual applicator, but products like DeWalt grease guns enable the deep infiltration of lubricants into more complex or hard-to-reach machinery.
Others will require regular inspection of parts that may be more likely to wear than others – especially collars and sleeves that bound moving parts. Proprietary tools may be required to remove and replace these; such tools should be labelled and kept safe, so as not to lose them or confuse them with other tools that could damage equipment.
The vast majority of machinery failures occur as a result of wear and tear over long periods of time. As such, equipment maintenance is necessarily a war of attrition against the effects of wear. This requires comprehensive knowledge of the equipment on site, and of interventions previous made to extend life.
Extensive reports should be kept of equipment maintenance, to enable engineers to follow service history and better diagnose any potential issues. This can also help with quality-of-life maintenance, where replacements are pre-emptively made to prevent disruption in the event of malfunction.
Meanwhile, there are facility-wide policies that can be implemented to lighten the load on maintenance teams. A leading cause for quickened wear, especially in machines with exposed moving parts or hydraulics, is the presence of dirt. Dust and grime alike can abrade materials and obstruct movement, causing further degradation and wear. Ensuring workers across the site adhere to company cleaning policy can help prevent machinery getting taxed by contaminants.