repair ahead

In our quest to make supply chains less harmful to the environment we started with the series on how to reduce waste along each steps of our logistics and transport journey. We looked at refusing waste that is being dumped onto us by suppliers or requested by customers, then we looked at reducing our waste within our facilities and working upstream and downstream the supply chain to do so. It requires efficient communication with suppliers and customers on objectives and expectations.

The need for repair

The third way to tackle waste is through repair. Let’s take the straight forward example of jeans. Every time there is a tear and you repair it you only buy a small part that should ensure smooth use for a bit longer. Because you did not buy a new pair of jeans but prolonged its life expectancy you avoided the huge emissions that are involved in the creation of a new product. With every kilogram of cotton requiring 7 to 29 tons of water and using the world’s most toxic pesticides for growing the crop, the effect of buying a new product is huge for the planet’s resources.

Photo by Aurelien Romain on Unsplash

Types of repair

The kings of the repair science have broken down the types of maintenance and repair into different types. Preventive, corrective, predictive and reinforcement. The definition of preventive maintenance is to fix an issue before a big one occurs and as we will explain below that is exactly what we want. Predictive maintenance relies on monitoring, smart data and clever analysis. It is very necessary to develop the tools that will allow you to do this type of maintenance and even better you will be able to do them when convenient for your operations

Rethink your repair schemes and schedule maintenance to shift from a reactive to a proactive method as repairing ahead of time can prevent you from spending more later on for repairs and other related issues. For instance, maintenance on your machines can avoid the production line being stopped, or savings on your energy and water bills. Let’s assume one of your vehicles broke down because the maintenance was not done proactively, you may have to pay more to replace the broken piece rather than fix it, while missing out on the revenue this vehicle was supposed to bring by missing deliveries or collections. That is assuming your vehicle is not being scrapped altogether. An appliance that is often repaired is worth investigating the root cause of that repair to ensure longer periods between repairs.

Maintenance teams are measured against KPIs such as Mean Time Between Failure or Mean Time To Repair. Shifting from the usual firefighting maintenance to preventive maintenance can be tricky but very cost effective. As explained in depth here, preventive maintenance will save you from spending on emergency maintenance or spare parts delivery which can be worth hours of your usual maintenance planning. Your goal is to replace the part before its failure or procure it the maintenance it needs. Starting to get ahead of schedule step by step will multiply the benefits quickly. It will also allow your teams to have time to review the machinery thoroughly and find route causes to the issues or better ways of working to avoid pieces’ fatigue. On the flip side, reactive frequent maintenance of machine A may put stress on machine B that will break down more often due to all the lines going through it and quickly the maintenance can snowball to an undesirable number of delayed repairs.

Reviewing your maintenance schedule is big task but starting small will allow you to plan preventive maintenance on your plant or machinery. This will enable your machines to have a longer life span and space out buying new items. Those new items require a lot of new resources, energy and water so this is crucial to a sustainable work place hence you should start by removing unnecessary purchases and reducing your use of new products. This green supply chain step can be a big money saver, easy win for convincing others that is what your workplace needs.

If that was not enough to motivate you to review your maintenance supply chain, you can picture the catastrophe scenario. A lack of management of your waste leads to fines, local authorities restrictions on your business, undesired news features like the infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that years later still remains in the public’s vision of the company. BBC estimated the cost to 2.5 years of BP’s profit. How is it poor repair practices? It is poor maintenance of the infrastructure and continuous leakage, poor design of the cement to seal and failure to recognise the start of the Health and Safety breach that led to huge waste too. No need to explain that vigilance to the maintenance and the state of the infrastructure is worth 2.5 years of company’s profit


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