3 Elements of Maintenance Success in the Chemical Industry

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3 Elements of Maintenance Success in the Chemical Industry

3 Elements of Maintenance Success in the Chemical Industry

The chemical industry and its chemical plant maintenance is comprised of many segments with diverse and complex operations, which can make a standardized maintenance approach challenging. Manufacturing downtime costs are a major concern. For example, in a batch operation chemical plant, they typically have more frequent opportunities for preventive maintenance activities, which can provide greater flexibility for maintenance planning and labor scheduling than continuous operation facilities. Regardless of product segments or operational processes, comprehensive asset intelligence, effective preventive maintenance (PM), and efficient labor scheduling are three fundamental elements to ensure chemical industry maintenance success.

1. Comprehensive Asset Intelligence

Knowing the history of equipment, and having immediate access to that information, is a vital element of effective maintenance.

Consider a polymer process, where if the reactor agitator goes down, the polymer can harden inside the reactor within an hour or so. When the polymer hardens, it can take between two and four days to have the reactor cleaned. In addition to the maintenance and cleaning costs, all this wasted time contributes to accumulating production losses. If the prior work order history is not easily accessible and readily available, it is unlikely that the maintenance technician will be able to review it in time to get the agitator repaired quickly.

However, with a comprehensive CMMS like Accruent’s Maintenance Connection, the entire work order history of the agitator can be viewed quickly by the technician to troubleshoot the issue and get the agitator back into service faster. With Maintenance Connection, the technician also has easy access to maintenance and operational documents, procedures, instructions and drawings that can assist in improving repair times.

2. Effective Preventive Maintenance Program

In the past, maintenance work was typically reactive. Schedules, usually established manually, lacked consideration for the capacity and availability of resources. As a result, these schedules were followed loosely, if at all. Now, scheduling assesses the availability of skills and parts and includes analytics for optimization.¹

From the maintenance management perspective, strong asset intelligence information provides an opportunity to identify trends and shift maintenance activities from reactive, unplanned downtime events to proactive preventive maintenance. For example, looking at the collective work order history of a particular motor, it may become evident that the motor fails after 5,000 hours of use. With this data, Maintenance Connection’s Preventive Maintenance Software can be used to deliver scheduled PM work orders based on equipment usage.

Why is this shift to the preventive maintenance approach important? One recent report indicates that manufacturing companies lose $50 billion annually in unplanned downtime.² When an unplanned downtime event occurs in a chemical plant during off-hours, labor costs increase because of overtime, expedited materials and equipment needed for repairs, and production loss for significant periods of time.

When equipment maintenance is planned, the parts can be available, the labor scheduled, and the maintenance performed in a more efficient manner. Production downtime can also be predicted, meaning operations can potentially build product inventory levels in a way that customer shipments are still made and production revenue losses do not occur.

3. Efficient Labor Scheduling

One of the key challenges facing maintenance managers in the chemical industry is reduced staffing to maintain aging facilities. It is critical then that labor is scheduled in a manner that maximizes efficiency and drives labor productivity.

Leveraging the asset work history within Maintenance Connection can help managers improve accuracy of estimated repair times to fix equipment. This accuracy can aid the labor planning process as well.

Maintenance Connection’s Planning and Scheduling ultimately helps drive efficient labor scheduling by giving maintenance managers and schedulers:

  • Granular visibility into staffing assignments
  • Flexible views to see assignments in different ways (e.g., calendar view)
  • The ability to automate assignments
  • Generated PM work orders based on a variety of triggers

Maintenance Success

There are many factors that contribute to maintenance success, and the chemical industry’s diversity of processes, facility sizes, etc. can make it challenging to establish effective maintenance programs across all assets. The cornerstone of maintenance success is a strong CMMS that can deliver three core benefits: comprehensive asset intelligence, effective preventive maintenance (PM), and efficient labor scheduling.

Learn how L’Oréal reduced unplanned downtime and minimized maintenance costs.


1Past, Present, and Future Trends in EAM and CMMS, ARC Advisory Group, December 2017.
2Asset Performance Management: Blazing A Better Path to Operational Excellence, Aberdeen Group, November 2017.

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