Cost Effective Maintenance for Competitve Advantages

Abstract: This thesis describes the role of cost effective maintenance in achieving competitive advantages. It explores by means of a survey which maintenance practices are used, and how maintenance policies are selected in Swedish industries. Also, it suggests a model for selecting the most cost effective maintenance policy, and how to improve the effectiveness of condition based maintenance decision-making. Finally it discusses how to assess the impact of maintenance practices on business strategic objectives. The main results achieved in the thesis are 1) A better understanding of maintenance organisation, management, systems and maintenance status in Swedish industry. For example, it was found that about 70% of Swedish companies still consider maintenance as a cost centre. Preventive and predictive maintenance approaches are also emphasised. 2) Most Swedish firms, i.e. about 81%, use the accumulated knowledge and experience within the company as a method for maintenance selection. Besides, about 31% use a method based on modelling the time to failure and optimisation. About 10% use failure mode effect and criticality analysis (FMECA) and decision trees and only 2% use multiple criterion decision-making (MCDM). However, the most used maintenance selection method is not the one most satisfactory to its users. Furthermore, about 30% use a combination of at least two methods. 3) A practical model for selecting and improving the most cost effective maintenance policy was developed. It is characterised by incorporating all the strengths of the four methods used in industry. 4) A mechanistic model for predicting the value of vibration level was verified both at the lab and in a case study. 5) A model for identifying, assessing, monitoring and improving the economic impact of maintenance was developed and tested in a case study. Thus it was proved that maintenance is no longer a cost centre, but could be a profit-generating function. To achieve competitive advantages, companies should do the right thing, e.g. use the most cost effective maintenance policy, and they should do it right, e.g. ensure that they have the right competence. Furthermore, they should apply the never-ending improvement cycle, i.e. Plan-Do-Check-Act, which requires identifying problem areas by assessing the savings and profits generated by maintenance and monitoring the economic impact of the applied maintenance policy. Thus, they would know where investments should be allocated to eliminate the basic reasons for losses and increase savings. The major conclusion is that proper maintenance would improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of production systems, and hence enhances company competitiveness, i.e. productivity and value advantages, and long-term profitability.