You’ll do well to think of an industry that doesn’t use some form of machinery or related equipment. Particularly when we think of true ‘industrial’ and production driven sectors like manufacturing, automotive, construction and agriculture, heavy machinery and equipment are absolutely essential to creating the output required for modern consumer markets. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution, which began with the UK in the 18th century, was fundamentally built upon transitioning from hand production methods to machines.
Since that point, machinery processes have become exponentially more efficient and effective, as have the servicing and safety infrastructure around them. As any business well knows, staying on top of maintenance is critical to success, but why exactly?
The importance of maintenance from a commercial perspective
From a business perspective, there’s nothing more important than efficiency. The ability to optimise your processes, understand your output capabilities and build your enterprise around those metrics is vital. Particularly in industries like the ones mentioned at the start of this article, none of those elements can be achieved without efficient machinery processes.
Effective maintenance programmes ensure that plant and equipment run as reliably as possible. Proper maintenance reduces the number of breakdowns and maximises the lifespan of equipment. Those factors in turn mean a much-reduced impact of machinery issues in the business, which translate to significantly boosted cost efficiencies.
Keeping things safe
One key facet of reducing downtime and inefficiencies in the workplace is minimising risk to workers. According to the Labour Force Survey, over half a million workers suffered a workplace injury in the UK (2021/22), and while only a small portion of those injuries were attributed to machinery/equipment accidents, businesses face huge regulatory and legal frameworks to keep their machinery in check.
One of the benefits of a maintenance programme and reducing the number of breakdowns is that it also reduces the amount of time employees spend in ‘dangerous contact’ with the machines when fixing them. Likewise, fully operational machinery and equipment carries a much lower risk profile for unsafe breakdown while in operation, which further boosts a business’s safety credentials.
The basics of maintenance in professional environments
Of course, what makes a good maintenance programme for a certain machine or piece of equipment depends entirely on the industry, the nature of the equipment and the environment it’s in, but there are some fundamentals that all maintenance processes should follow:
- Have the right equipment for the job: maintaining machinery requires its own equipment, without which proper upkeep is impossible. Whether it’s load-certified bottle jacks for working on HGVs and forklifts or the appropriate safety gear for the workers carrying out the job, businesses need to ensure their toolsets are up to scratch.
- Deliver proper training: just as with health and safety training, it’s vital that an organisation’s maintenance programmes deliver the right training and resources to properly restore and maintain the machinery it uses.
- Regular upkeep: ensuring that maintenance of all equipment is delivered in a timely fashion and on the basis recommended by the manufacturer keeps businesses in line with regulatory or legal requirements.
- Have the right people: as per HSE guidelines, only people who are competent in doing the work should carry out maintenance. This is due to many maintenance processes being highly complex and carrying a high-risk profile.
If you’d like to know more about why maintenance is important, take a look at the HSE guide on maintenance of work equipment.