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Why assessments are the foundation of effective lifecycle management

Intelligrated's Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) understands the crucial role that assessments play in our abilities to predict and prevent issues before they occur. But for many plant managers in order fulfillment or manufacturing environments, the importance of performing regular assessments is often overlooked. And while some may think that planned preventive maintenance activities are enough to keep operations running at sufficient levels, the truth is they're often not equipped to identify unseen problems in mechanical structures or uncover issues that may lie dormant in material handling control systems. Unfortunately, when a piece of the system breaks, their parts inventories are often unorganized and understocked, preventing fast issue resolution and prolonging costly downtime.

These were the very scenarios our LSS team addressed in Intelligrated's most recent On The Move webinar, "Identifying minor issues before they become major problems." Joining me for this live webinar were Javiera Aguirre, assessment manager and Doug Bach, director of lifecycle sales. Together we discussed the importance of assessments and then answered many questions from attendees after the presentation.

We started the webinar by introducing the concept of assessments and discussing what's at stake for those who ignore this crucial step. In our first polling question, we asked attendees how many unplanned downtime events they had experienced in the past year. We weren't surprised to learn that 50 percent had experienced at least one unplanned downtime event. From our experience, we've found that these downtime events can cost anywhere from $10K to $200K per hour. Obviously, prolonged outages can have lasting operational and financial impacts.

Javiera explained that assessments are analogous to the annual physicals individuals typically have performed by their doctors. Just as we have our skeletal, blood and neurological functions evaluated to check our overall well-being, manufacturing and distribution operations should have their MHE system mechanics and controls assessed at regular intervals to prevent costly and dangerous conditions and ensure optimum performance.

But assessments don't stop just at mechanical systems and controls. Javiera discussed the many types of technology, mechanical and maintenance assessments that LSS teams perform - from software, sorters, palletizers and conveyors to personnel safety, thermography, parts and computerized maintenance management systems. Simply put, these assessments can uncover "what's under the hood" and potentially prevent substantial productivity loss, accidents and expensive repairs.

Javiera walked through the key steps involved with the assessment process, starting with understanding the baseline system performance and culminating with taking necessary remediation steps to return the system to optimal operations and plan a system's lifecycle. She emphasized the importance of using assessments to not only take a proactive stance toward maintenance, but also to better prioritize repairs and align them with the capital planning process.

Finally, Doug demonstrated that assessments are integral for all types of facilities, regardless of their current phase in the system's lifecycle. Whether you're operating a brownfield site, sharing maintenance tasks with multiple vendors or starting up an all-new greenfield site, everyone should make assessments a mandatory part of their maintenance processes. 

To learn more about how assessments can help you formulate and execute an effective lifecycle management strategy, please view this webinar in its entirety.