Have you ever heard of industrial maintenance? In industrial maintenance, industrial maintenance technicians (IMTs) work in facilities and manufacturing industries to maintain essential machinery for operations. This practice focuses on reducing equipment breakdowns to enhance productivity and cut costs.

This blog post will define industrial maintenance and provide examples of its applications so you can learn the ins and outs of industrial maintenance.

What Is Industrial Maintenance?

Industrial maintenance involves keeping machinery, equipment, and facilities in good working condition to maximize efficiency, reliability, and lifespan. This term is often used interchangeably with plant maintenance.

Besides ensuring equipment performs well, industrial maintenance also focuses on controlling costs. Effective maintenance is crucial for meeting production quotas and maintaining high quality, but it’s important to keep costs low to maximize profits.

To balance quality maintenance with cost control, it’s essential to set maintenance KPIs and use the right mix of maintenance strategies, supported by mobile CMMS apps. Ultimately, skilled workers are the driving force behind successful maintenance operations.

Industrial Maintenance Strategies

Industrial machinery, ranging from motors to complex systems like wind turbines, goes through a lifecycle from installation to operation, and eventually to end-of-life or breakdown. Maintenance is crucial for extending the lifespan of this equipment, ensuring it performs efficiently for as long as possible.

We often think of maintenance as an emergency response to problems or breakdowns, and it’s true that it often involves fixing issues. However, maintenance is also crucial for safety, such as preventing toxic gas leaks from a failing ammonia compressor. It ensures compliance with regulations from OSHA, FDA, and IATF. Additionally, it keeps production running smoothly; for example, a worn bearing on a key engine can stop an entire production line.

Relying only on emergency repairs can be costly and inefficient. A better approach involves using preventive, condition-based, and predictive maintenance strategies. These methods help maintenance teams keep equipment running longer and more reliably, reducing downtime and saving money.

  • Reactive Maintenance

    Reactive maintenance kicks in when machine assets encounter issues, whether they’re minor glitches or major breakdowns. Sometimes called “run-to-failure” maintenance, it’s a fix-as-needed approach. While it’s suitable for easily replaceable parts like lightbulbs, it can pose challenges for more complex or crucial industrial machinery.

  • Breakdown Maintenance

    Breakdown maintenance means waiting until a machine completely stops working before addressing any issues. It might be okay for non-essential equipment, but it can be risky and costly for machines critical to production.

  • Preventive Maintenance (PM)

    Preventive maintenance (PM) is about planning ahead and scheduling regular check-ups to stop problems before they start. Whether it’s based on time intervals or equipment usage, PM helps reduce the chances of asset downtime. This approach is particularly crucial for keeping essential machinery up and running smoothly.

  • Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM)

    Condition-based maintenance (CBM) involves taking action based on data about how well an asset is doing, such as its vibration or temperature levels. This data gives us insights into the machine’s health and helps us decide if maintenance is necessary. CBM is particularly important for complex machines that need constant monitoring.

  • Predictive Maintenance

    Predictive maintenance is all about doing maintenance work before a problem occurs, using predictive data like detailed vibration data collected by wireless sensors. PM is a powerful tool for maximizing uptime and enhancing the reliability of your most important assets.

  • Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)

    Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) is a structured approach that looks at the bigger picture: figuring out the best maintenance strategy for each asset or type of asset to ensure cost-effective uptime. RCM might involve different methods, from reacting to breakdowns to using predictive maintenance. It often includes techniques like Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Asset Criticality Analysis, and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) to analyze assets and come up with the best plan.

Who Are Considered Industrial Maintenance Workers?

The backbone of keeping industrial facilities running smoothly are the various workers involved in industrial maintenance. These workers are:

  1. Maintenance Technicians who handle general maintenance tasks such as repairing motors. They usually have specialized skills beyond those of regular mechanics, including responding to urgent breakdowns and analyzing why things fail.
  2. Maintenance Planners and Schedulers who make sure maintenance schedules are well-organized. They ensure technicians are working on the right equipment at the right time, with all the necessary parts and information.
  3. Maintenance Supervisors oversee technicians, making sure they complete their work orders efficiently and that resources are used wisely. They also monitor the team’s overall performance and maintain key performance indicators (KPIs).
  4. Maintenance Managers who take a big-picture view of the maintenance program. They evaluate the performance of technicians, planners, and supervisors, as well as the overall health and reliability of the machinery in the plant. They focus on long-term goals, developing strategies to improve KPIs and satisfy higher-level management like directors and presidents.

Which Industries Utilize Industrial Maintenance?

Industrial Maintenance is important for several industries like:

  1. Manufacturing: Manufacturing companies perform industrial maintenance while producing and distributing goods to various customers across different industries, including electronics, clothing, food, and furniture.
  2. Construction: Construction companies use a lot of heavy machinery and store materials, so keeping everything safe and efficient is crucial. Maintenance professionals check and repair machines or specific parts to keep things running smoothly.
  3. Refineries: Refineries use chemical engineering to make products and materials, often in very hot conditions. They need regular maintenance of pipes and ventilation systems to stay safe and efficient.
  4. Food-processing: Food-processing plants use automated machines to handle and package food products. Keeping this equipment in good shape is important for safety and productivity.
  5. Printing: Printing companies produce large volumes of goods using automated processes. Proper equipment maintenance, such as rotators and embossing machines, is essential to ensure the production of high-quality products.
  6. Energy: Industrial maintenance ensures energy companies, such as electrical, gas, and solar power plants, can consistently provide service to residential and commercial areas. This involves maintaining power sources and repairing equipment to ensure reliable service for customers.
  7. Automotive and Aerospace: Companies in the automotive and aerospace industries manufacture, maintain, and distribute parts and vehicles. Assembly plants and distribution facilities need a robust industrial maintenance plan to ensure reliable production and development.

What are the Industrial Maintenance Certifications?

Becoming a good industrial maintenance professional needs both technical skills and practical knowledge. Maintenance workers take care of the essential equipment in a facility. Because this job is so important, evaluations help make sure certified individuals are credible. Here are a few examples of industrial maintenance certifications:

  • Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT)

    Previously known as the Certified Industrial Maintenance Mechanic certification, the CMRT is a top program for assessing maintenance technicians. Offered by the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP), this certification tests skills in maintenance practices, preventive and predictive maintenance, troubleshooting and analysis, and corrective maintenance.

  • The Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP)

    The CMRP certification, offered by SMRP, is another notable program in maintenance. It’s accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and follows the standards set by the International Standardization Organization (ISO). Geared towards maintenance professionals with administrative roles, the CMRP program covers essential topics like business and management, equipment reliability, manufacturing process reliability, organization and leadership, and work management.

  • The International Maintenance Institute (IMI) Certification

    For those interested in certification through the International Maintenance Institute (IMI), there are different levels available, each catering to specific skill sets. These certifications range from technical skills to management skills. Here are the credentials offered:

    1. Certified Maintenance Technician I
    2. Certified Maintenance Technician II
    3. Certified Maintenance Technician III
    4. Certified Maintenance Professional
    5. Certified Maintenance Manager

4 Best Practices for Improving Industrial Maintenance

Industrial maintenance involves many complex elements, both in machinery and processes. To enhance the effectiveness of their maintenance strategy, companies should focus on four actionable tips.

  1. Implement a Proactive Maintenance Program

    While various maintenance strategies have their place in the industrial maintenance field, proactive maintenance offers the greatest return on investment.

    Companies can’t achieve better results if their maintenance efforts are primarily focused on repairing broken equipment. The best approach is to adopt one or more proactive maintenance strategies.

  2. Mobile Maintenance Software

    Efficiently running a maintenance department is almost impossible without mobile CMMS support.

    With the right CMMS, industrial organizations can:

    • Manage Work: Schedule and track technicians’ tasks remotely without constant check-ins. All information is accessible via the CMMS on their phones.
    • Manage Spare Parts Inventory: Receive custom alerts when parts are used, replaced, or running low.
    • Log Asset History: Store detailed records on maintenance and repairs, user manuals, checklists, images, asset health metrics, and task management to ensure machinery stays in excellent condition.
    • Collect Accurate Data for Work Requests and Orders: Technicians can use a mobile app to access real-time information, document tasks, and complete jobs accurately on-site.
    • Generate Custom Maintenance Reports: Gather precise data to inform maintenance decisions, track costs and repair times, and predict asset availability.
    • Customize Everything: Set alerts for tasks, spending, and inventory, and upload photos and instructions for technicians. The right CMMS can be tailored to fit any company’s specific needs.
  3. Define Clear Procedures

    A well-organized industrial maintenance program relies on the team knowing what to do and when to do it. To ensure everyone is aligned, companies should create comprehensive documentation, including:

    • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
    • Emergency Operating Procedures (EOPs)
    • Preventive Maintenance Checklists
    • OSHA Guidelines (such as PPE requirements, Lockout-Tagout procedures, and Process Safety Management)

    Remember, these procedures are most effective when combined with proper training and experience.

  4. Set, Measure, Improve

    Simply feeling like things are improving isn’t enough; you need to know for sure. Setting goals is crucial for continuous improvement, but without tracking progress, those goals won’t be effective.

    To optimize industrial maintenance activities, an organization should:

    A good CMMS automatically tracks various maintenance KPIs and generates easy-to-read reports based on thorough work orders. This helps businesses improve efficiency and provides solid data to showcase the effectiveness of their maintenance teams.

Why Use NEXGEN for Industrial Maintenance?

Industrial maintenance teams rely on maintenance software to effectively manage, plan, and execute maintenance strategies. This software acts as a central hub for handling work orders, managing assets, tracking spare parts inventory, and generating maintenance reports. Leading maintenance management software also provides mobile apps for maintenance, condition monitoring capabilities, and integrations with essential business systems. Common types of software include computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) systems.

Implementing a CMMS or EAM system empowers industrial maintenance teams to save time, streamline processes, reduce costs, prevent downtime, and enhance asset reliability.

NEXGEN’s CMMS, for example, enables comprehensive tracking of maintenance activities on every asset. By analyzing asset condition data over time, teams can make informed decisions, prioritize tasks and budgets effectively, and ultimately reduce expenses. Enhanced visibility into maintenance operations allows teams to identify trends, adapt to changing priorities, and improve communication and workflow efficiency. Furthermore, centralizing documentation simplifies compliance procedures and ensures that maintenance personnel can access necessary information securely.

Interested in exploring NEXGEN’s CMMS?