Operations + Maintenance = Production (part 4)

In the previous columns, I discussed joint goals and how to promote the vitally important operations/maintenance partnership through a different way of reporting and solving operations, as well as maintenance, problems.

In this article, I will continue to elaborate on the very important relationship between operations, maintenance, and engineering.


To make a partnership between maintenance and operations successful, you need to do things differently than you have done in a customer-supplier relationship.

For example, you should:

  • Agree on the same goal-overall production efficiency (OPE).
  • Achieve the right joint focus-total reliability. There is revenue as a result of improved reliability. Improved reliability results in lower sustainable maintenance costs.
  • Solve problems-do not classify production losses by department.
  • Include operators in basic inspections and essential care of equipment.
  • Agree on guidelines for priorities of work requests. If you want a copy of this, please contact me by email.

All of the above were explained in my previous three columns on this topic. In the four following sections, this column focuses on other things you can do to promote the partnership.


It might seem obvious that communicating production plans is done no less often than in your weekly Thursday meeting between the operations and maintenance partners.

However, my experience is that it is not a given that maintenance and operations communicate the production plan well enough.

As a minimum requirement, the production plan is posted weekly and updated daily. This allows scheduling of maintenance work to best take advantage of all opportunities that present themselves.

This is important for a pro-cess producing many different sheet characteristics, such as a paperboard machine making everything from uncoated to coated on one or both sides, running one or more wires. It is also important in other processes.

For example, if you make one type of pulp in a continuous digester, you will have fewer maintenance opportunities on short notice.


Sit down with your operations partner and identify all maintenance opportunities that present themselves as you go through each product you manufacture. Also, estimate a time range available for maintenance work.

Give each maintenance opportunity a code and describe them on the backside of the priority guideline (see December 2000 column).

In your work requests, the requestors should fill out the maintenance opportunity as a minimum requirement per your standard for “work re-quests.”

The value of doing this is that you will learn more about the manufacturing process, while at the same time promoting the partnership and opening up more opportunities to do maintenance without losing production.

You will start taking advantage of all scheduled and unscheduled shutdowns to do necessary maintenance work.


It is not uncommon to find that there are four to five shutdown schedules, and these schedules are not well connected to each other. There might be one schedule for operations work, another for mechanical work, etc.

An indication of a good partnership between operations and maintenance-and also within maintenance-is that there is only one schedule for every shutdown. This schedule should be well connected between all involved departments.


Include operating practices in your maintenance prevention program. When you do the priority guideline jointly with operations, you will most probably discuss one event called “critical process running on spare equipment.”

This is when, for example, you run a spare pump because the redundant pump is not performing. This event often triggers a long discussion.

Operations has always called maintenance resources to repair the failed pump, even if it is two o’clock in the morning.

The solution is that switching pumps between shutdowns becomes the responsibility of operations.

All doubled pumps are marked “A” and “B,” so it is easy to remember which pumps to run. (It is not unusual to find that both pumps are unknowingly running and working against each other).

There are many other operating procedures you should include in your maintenance prevention program.

Examples include how to heat up a steam system, how to start a pump correctly, and how to clean without causing problems.

part1 | part2 | part 3 | part5

At IDCON, we understand the pressure you face trying to build a reliable plant.
We provide side-by-side reliability and maintenance consulting and training designed to keep your equipment running.

For over 45 years, we’ve partnered with 100s of manufacturing plants around the world to eliminate the costs and the pressure caused by unreliable equipment. And we’d love to do the same for you.

Contact us today to see how we can help you keep your plant running.

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Christer Idhammar

Founder, IDCON INC Reliability and Maintenance Management Guru

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