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Preventive Maintenance Step #1: Consequences of Poor Maintenance

Understanding the Impact of Poor Maintenance

With a large proportion of manufacturing costs attributed to maintenance, it’s important to ensure that it is done properly to minimize production losses and improve resource allocation. However, oftentimes maintenance isn’t done properly which leads to more frequent maintenance than would normally be necessary.

But money wasted with inefficient maintenance isn’t the only problem with poor maintenance. Poor maintenance can lead to a host of other problems. In order to successfully prevent poor maintenance, we need to understand what the consequences of it are.


Poor Maintenance Leads to 2 Main Problems

1. Equipment Downtime

Is your equipment working all the time at the desired speed and the expected quality standard? Probably not.

All machines have equipment downtime for different reasons. They are usually categorized in 6 major ways:


If some of your machinery is expensive, you probably want to collect downtime data in detail to understand where you lose the opportunity to make good products. In the example below, we break down where a machine’s losses over a week in a table.


Using a table, it’s easier to draw conclusions for immediate change. In the example above, we can identify the following:

  • There was no breakdown this week.
  • Tool changes take time. There might be ways to address this with the SMED approach.
  • Cleaning and inspection take a bit of time. It would be a good idea to see if it can be done just before a shift starts.
  • Short stoppages at exit cause regular time loss. This would need to be looked into.
  • One of the biggest quality problems is holes in products. A problem resolution initiative would need to be started to reduce this.


The more complex and high-tech the equipment, the more you need good maintenance in order to avoid loss of machinery operation time and efficiency.

Here are typical ways this happens:

  • Unplanned downtime disrupts the production plan and shipping schedules – triggering expediting costs and customer penalties.
  • Poorly maintained equipment does not function as expected (short-circuits, explosions, etc.) and can result in accidents.
  • When equipment breaks down, and the corresponding process becomes a bottleneck, it places a limit on the capacity of your factory. The rent and equipment may cost you the same amount, but a lower uptime means you can get fewer products out.
  • In the worst case, an entire factory is down because a critical machine is not functioning.
  • 98% of organizations report that a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000, and 33% estimate that it costs over 1 million USD.

2. Quality Issues

A worn-out tool or a machine functioning abnormally will create products that have to be reworked or scrapped. Poor quality often goes hand in hand with high equipment downtime – they are both indicative of insufficient maintenance.

In most factories, there are 2 ways of implementing quality control:

  • What maintenance staff call cleaning, inspecting, adjusting/repairing, and replacing
  • What quality staff call process control

There is actually considerable overlap between these two preventive activities. How does it play out in different processes?

There are many ways a robot can create quality issues. It may lose some of its spatial integrity (ability to move precisely as expected) because a component got worn. The servo motor might not run as smoothly as it is supposed to. The tooling at the end of an arm might start to wear and might no longer be capable of completing its job properly. The list goes on.

After a clear understanding of what the impact of poor maintenance might lead to, you can start planning for preventative actions.

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How A Preventive Maintenance System Cuts Costs in Chinese Factories

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