How Does Your Maintenance Program Stack Up?

“We don’t have time for that!”

Sound familiar? As we barrel toward the busy season, it’s something that you might hear with increasing frequency on commercial glass shop floors around the country. While the market isn’t necessarily on fire in 2024, demand will ramp up in the summer months, as it typically does.

And that’s why it’s also the most critical time of the year to make time for one of the most critical parts of your operations: your maintenance program.

On the surface, that may sound counterintuitive. Preventative maintenance tasks on critical production equipment can be time-consuming and interrupt a hot production schedule.

“We don’t have time for that,” indeed.

However, consider the outcome if a machine goes down because preventative maintenance has been ignored. Addressing the problem after it’s occurred—instead of before—can have much more devastating consequences for your production numbers. Indeed, it takes more time than could have been devoted to producing quality glass products.

So, as we prepare for the busy season, here are a few things worth considering when it comes to preventative maintenance on your shop floor.

Make Time, Take Time
Problems relating to poor maintenance routines illustrate why it’s important to make time to perform those routines—and make them a part of your year-round processes and operations.

Regular maintenance schedules should be established. Following them should be as important as any other part of production. Consistency is key. Regular activities can be scheduled daily, weekly, monthly and annually, depending on the needs of your equipment and your production schedule. Big or small, preventative maintenance tasks help maximize your production equipment’s availability and capacity. And remember: Preventative maintenance doesn’t work if it doesn’t happen.

Of course, the unexpected will happen. Perhaps your teams notice a noncritical problem during a production run—a component begins vibrating or buzzing irregularly. It’s not enough to fully hamper the machine, but it’s worth investigating at the end of the shift. In such situations, production and maintenance teams should work together to identify a time to diagnose the issue that minimally disrupts intended production.

And that leads me to my next point.

Addressing the Real Issue
When those unforeseen equipment issues happen, there is a sense of urgency to get them back into operation as soon as possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to cut corners. It’s important to identify why such a problem occurred in these instances. If a quick fix is applied without taking the time to understand it, it might happen again quickly.

Identifying the root cause of any maintenance issue can prevent minor issues from becoming larger, more critical problems. And again, it’s worthwhile to make the appropriate time to address and understand these problems, even on today’s fast-paced production floors. Maintenance’s role is to optimize your production equipment in these ways—not simply react to poorly understood problems.

At the end of the day, production can’t be successful without maintenance. Reliable equipment that works safely and consistently is essential to reliable, consistent and profitable production. If you’re interested in improving your maintenance programs but aren’t sure where to begin, seeking the assistance of a third party can be helpful. Some of your suppliers and partners may be able to help you identify what’s working and what isn’t and how to bolster your overall commitment to delivering high-quality commercial glass products.

Joe Erb is a national account manager for Quanex.