Complexity of Maintenance Management

Maintenance management is a complex function. Since maintenance is composed of a wide set of activities, it is very difficult to find procedures and information support systems for simplifying and improving the maintenance processes (Vagliasindi, 1989). Because maintenance deals with highly diverse problems even in firms within the same productive sector, it is very difficult to design an operating methodology of general applicability. Jonsson (2000) points to the lack of maintenance management configurations that could be useful to improve the understanding of the underlying dimensions of maintenance. Existing research (Jonsson, 1997; Wireman, 1990; McKone et al., 1999) shows that maintenance is somewhat "underdeveloped" leading to a lack of prevention and integration in manufacturing companies on most continents. Hipkin and De Cock (2000) present a ranking of barriers in implementing maintenance systems. Managers, supervisors and operators find that the lack of plant and process knowledge is the main constraint, followed by lack of history data, lack of time to complete the analysis required, lack of top management support, and the fear of disruptions in production/operations.

In addition, as a consequence of the implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies and just-in-time production systems, the nature of the production environment has changed during the last two decades. This has allowed companies to massively produce products in a customized way. But the increase in automation and the reduction in buffers of inventory in the plants clearly put more pressure on the maintenance system. The disruption to production flows can quickly become costly by rapidly disrupting a large portion of the operation. In highly automated plants, the limitations of computer controls, the integrated nature of the equipment, and the increased knowledge requirements make it more difficult to diagnose and solve equipment problems (Buchanan & Besant, 1985). In such an environment, the problems are complex and difficult to solve especially when human intervention is required (Fry, 1982). Complexity of maintenance management increases with the increase in the variety and degree of technology used in manufacturing a product (Swanson, 1997). When this happens, new and unfamiliar problems often arise and maintenance becomes even more relevant for the effectiveness of modern enterprises.

Using the above discussion and existing knowledge, we can develop a complexity index of maintenance management. Table 1 describes various factors used in developing a measure of complexity that may be found in assessing and managing the maintenance function in a production. An increase in the degree of fulfillment of each factor in an enterprise is associated with an increase in the complexity of the maintenance management process. The last column in Table 1 shows the relevance of each factor according to the production environment (range for this factor can be also within the 0 to 5 interval). For instance, CMMS will be much more relevant in a production environment where the number of critical equipments is very high or where the needs for maintenance resources management are very significant. Another example is the importance of the technical expertise of the maintenance staff. This factor may not be very important for some facilities where the production process is rather simple or maintenance activities are properly outsourced. By populating Table 1 and completing all calculations, an index can be computed and used to compare the complexity of maintenance management in different production environments.

Table 1: Assessment and Complexity of Maintenance Management for a Production System.

Factors impacting maintenance complexity

Degree of fulfillment

Relevance Factor

Total: DFxRF






Information System

Lack of CMMS

Lack of historical data

Process Technology and Integration

Complexity of the production process technology

Variety of technologies used in the production process

Level of automation and process integration

Production Management System

JIT - Non-stock production

Maintenance Management System

Lack of maintenance procedures in place

Personnel Technical Expertise

Low level of operators knowledge and involvement in maintenance

Low technical expertise of the maintenance staff





Intelligent Enterprises of the 21st Century
Intelligent Enterprises of the 21st Century
ISBN: 1591401607
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 195 © 2008-2017.
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