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The Role of strategic maintenance management in improving the performance of industrial companies

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1.0 Background Information

An industrial production system is made up of different types of equipment that need to have a high reliability and availability in order to achieve a stable production process. These equipment should be maintained at the condition in which they were bought to ensure that each equipment in the process delivers in accordance to its specification. According to (Muyengwa & Marowa (2015), maintanance strategy is a method of management used to achive maintanance objectives. Strategic maintenance of equipment is therefore, important in any industrial process company as it facilitates the journey to achieving sustainability through maximum asset utilization. This substantially contributes to the overall profitability and business competitiveness of a company (Maletic, et al., 2014).

The effectiveness and efficiency of maintenance management activities varies between discrete item manufacturing industry and process industry. A strategic view on maintenance management is well established within the process industry, since malfunction of a sub-system can interfere with the entire production process (Eti, et al., 2006). Operators and maintenance staff in such industries become more or less integrated. It is common to find the application of maintenance concepts such as advanced technologies like computerized decision support systems and online condition monitoring, and Reliability Centered Maintenance (Narayan, 2004). In the manufacturing industry, there has been a surplus of finished products, and also buffers of work under progress between machinery since the introduction of mass production (Jonsson, 1999). In addition, the workshop layout is oriented functionally, allowing goods to have multiple alternative flows. Consequently, deficiencies in the production process have been disregarded. Today, it has become evident that any industrial company that seeks to realize rapid, substantial and sustainable improvement in maintenance management and physical-asset performance requires strategic actions in maintenance management.

2.0 Research Objectives

The primary objective of this study will be to investigate the role of maintenance management in improving the performance of industrial companies.

Research problem:

To achieve the above objective, the research study will seek to answer to the following questions:

Major question:

  • What role does strategic maintenance management play in improving the performance of industrial companies?

To answer the above question, the study will seek to address the following sub-questions:

  • To what extend does strategic maintenance management influence performance of companies?

  • What is the relationship between strategic maintenance management and company performance?

3.0 Current State-of-the-art

Recently, maintenance management has gained global recognition as a potential profit generating practice. This is despite for the fact that many industries across the world have to spend substantial amounts and employ maintenance personnel comprising of a large workforce. Today, the effects associated with downtime are aggravated in many industries by the increased adoption of just-in-time process as well as total quality-management. Just-in-time process is associated with reduced stocks, which means that minor breakdowns are more likely halt or inhibit the production process. Increased automation and mechanization implies that availability and reliability have become key concerns in sectors such as electric power generation stations, healthcare and chemical processing (Jonsson, 1999). The overall result is increased cost of maintenance in both absolute terms and a significant part of total expenditure of many industries during the recent decades. In some industries, maintenance cost has become the top contributor to the total cost. Maintenance strategies have quite evolved, especially in countries that are highly industrialized – taking into account cost, quality, customer satisfaction and flexible delivery. Maintenance has become a proactive activity that is focused on profit with the aim of narrowing the variation between ideal maintenance cost and the actual cost (Wireman, 2005). Companies are replacing the existing “reactive” maintenance strategies with more proactive strategies such as preventive, corrective, detective and predictive maintenance and more aggressive strategies such as total productive maintenance and reliability centered maintenance (Fredriksson & Larsson, 2012).

The focus in the current years is due to globalization – creating both internal and external partnership between other elements within the product supply chain and maintenance, e.g. integration of maintenance in the design of the production process, and assisting the procurement personnel to select the manufacturer of the original equipment. More emphasis has been placed on monitoring variations in both the condition of equipment and quality of product, for reliability, availability and safety (Bris, et al., 2009). Maintenance management is becoming part of integrated business concept with a growing trend in outsourcing, and shifting from maintenance management that is failure-based to condition-based maintenance management. Industrial companies have undertaken more efforts to lower maintenance costs through management of the maintenance function, while improving product quality and productivity (Wilson, 2002). Effective maintenance management strategies are used to minimize failures which translates to great savings. Hence, maintenance management has become more significant for the role it plays in the long-term profitability in an industrial company.

4.0 Research Methodology

In addressing the questions of this study, two methods of research will be used; extensive literature review and relevant case studies of companies in different industries. The movement between research study of the theoretical aspects and case studies of industries will be essential in producing results that are valid both in the industrial community and the scientific community (Muyengwa & Marowa, 2015).

An extensive literature review is a theoretical aspect of research that will provide relevant knowledge about the role played by strategic maintenance management within an industry to improve the performance of companies, and also gain knowledge on various maintenance strategies presented by different researchers (Salonen, 2011). Areas such as maintenance management, change management and maintenance strategy will be studied in order to gain understanding of the strategic level of maintenance, the role of maintenance management department and the role it plays in improving company performance. The main aim of literature review will be to create a strong foundation of knowledge over which the results and discussions of the research study will be based upon.

Shifting to an industrial context, detailed case studies of companies in different industries will be used to explore the roles of strategic maintenance management, describe these roles, explain them and do a comparison between different companies. The research through the case studies will seek to establish the maintenance strategy adopted by the companies and structural decision elements, and the role played by such maintenance management strategies in improving the performance of the companies in the industry. This is expected to generate the major roles played by strategic maintenance management, valid in both for academia and industry.

References

Bris, R., Soares, C. G. & Martorell, S., 2009. Reliability, Risk, and Safety, Three Volume Set: Theory and Applications. s.l.:CRC Press.

Eti, M. C., Ogaji, S. O. T. & Probert, S. D., 2006. Strategic maintenance-management in Nigerian industries. Applied Energy, 83(3), pp. 211-227.

Fredriksson, G. & Larsson, H., 2012. An analysis of maintenance strategies and development of a model for strategy formulation– A case study. Department of Product and Production Development, Division of Production Systems, Chalmers University Of Technology.

Jonsson, P., 1999. Company-wide integration of strategic maintenance: An empirical analysis. Int. J. Production Economics, 60(61), p. 155—164.

Maletic, D., Maletic, M., Al-Najjar, B. & Gomiscek, B., 2014. The role of maintenance in improving company’s competitiveness and profitability: a case study in a textile company. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25(4), pp. 441-456.

Muyengwa, G. & Marowa, Y. N., 2015. Analyzing Adoption Of Maintenance Strategies In Manufacturing Companies. s.l., IAMOT.

Narayan, V., 2004. Effective Maintenance Management: Risk and Reliability Strategies for Optimizing Performance. s.l.:Industrial Press Inc.

Salonen, A., 2011. Strategic Maintenance Development In Manufacturing Industry. Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, Volume 99, pp. 7-8.

Wilson, A., 2002. Asset Maintenance Management: A Guide to Developing Strategy & Improving Performance. s.l.:Industrial Press Inc..

Wireman, T., 2005. Developing Performance Indicators for Managing Maintenance. s.l.:Industrial Press Inc.