The chemical industry and its chemical plant maintenance are comprised of many segments with diverse and complex operations, which can make a standardized maintenance plan challenging.

Manufacturing downtime costs constitute a significant concern. For example, in a batch operation chemical plant, they typically have more frequent opportunities for a preventive maintenance program, which can provide greater flexibility for maintenance planning and labor scheduling than continuous operation facilities. Regardless of product segments or operational processes, comprehensive asset intelligence, effective preventive maintenance (PM), and efficient labor scheduling are three fundamental elements to ensure chemical industry maintenance success.

1. Comprehensive asset intelligence.

Knowing the history of equipment, and having immediate access to that information, is a vital element of an effective preventive maintenance program.

Consider a polymer process, where if the reactor agitator goes down, the polymer can harden inside the reactor within an hour or so. When the polymer hardens, it can take between two and four days to have the reactor cleaned. In addition to the cleaning and maintenance costs, all this wasted time contributes to accumulating production losses. If the prior work order history is not easily accessible and readily available, it is unlikely that maintenance technicians will be able to review it in time to get the agitator repaired quickly.

However, with a comprehensive computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) like Accruent's Maintenance Connection, the entire work order history of the agitator can be viewed quickly by technicians to troubleshoot the issue and get the agitator back into service faster. With Maintenance Connection, technicians also have easy access to maintenance and operational documents, procedures, instructions and drawings that can assist in improving repair times.

2. Effective preventive maintenance program.

In the past, maintenance work was typically reactive. A reactive maintenance schedule, usually established manually, often lacks consideration for the capacity and availability of resources. As a result, these schedules are only followed loosely, if at all. A preventive maintenance schedule, however, assesses the availability of skills and parts and includes analytics for optimization according to Past, Present, and Future Trends in EAM and CMMS, ARC Advisory Group, December 2017. From a maintenance management perspective, having substantial asset intelligence information provides an opportunity to identify trends and shift maintenance tasks from reactive, unplanned downtime events to proactive preventive maintenance. For example, looking at the collective work order history of a particular motor, it may become evident that the motor fails after 5,000 hours of use. With this data, Maintenance Connection's preventive maintenance software can be used to deliver scheduled PM work orders based on equipment usage.

Why is this shift to a preventive maintenance plan significant? One recent report, Asset Performance Management: Blazing A Better Path to Operational Excellence, Aberdeen Group, November 2017, indicates that manufacturing companies lose $50 billion annually in unplanned downtime. When an unplanned downtime event occurs in a chemical plant during off-hours, labor costs increase because of overtime, expedited materials and equipment needed for repairs, and production loss for significant periods of time.

When equipment maintenance tasks are planned, the parts are available, the labor scheduled, and the maintenance performed more efficiently. Production downtime can also be predicted — meaning operations can potentially build product inventory levels in a way that customer shipments are still made, and production revenue losses do not occur.

3. Efficient labor scheduling.

One of the key challenges facing maintenance management in the chemical industry is reduced staffing to maintain aging facilities. It is critical then that labor is scheduled in a manner that maximizes efficiency and drives labor productivity.

Leveraging the asset work history within Maintenance Connection can help managers improve the accuracy of estimated repair times to fix equipment. This accuracy can aid the labor planning process as well.

Maintenance Connection's planning and scheduling CMMS software ultimately helps drive efficient labor scheduling by giving maintenance managers and schedulers:

  • Granular visibility into staffing assignments.
  • Flexible views to see assignments in different ways (e.g., calendar view).
  • The ability to automate assignments.
  • Generated PM work orders based on a variety of triggers.

Maintenance success.

There are many factors that can contribute to a successful maintenance plan, and the chemical industry's diversity of processes, facility sizes, etc. can make it challenging to establish an effective maintenance strategy across all assets. The cornerstone of maintenance success is a strong CMMS that can deliver three core benefits: comprehensive asset intelligence, effective preventive maintenance (PM), and efficient labor scheduling.

Learn how L’Oréal reduced unplanned downtime and minimized maintenance costs by implementing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).