The maintenance function in beverage facilities is, and always will be, a major contributor to success and profitability. The operational activities within the entire beverage supply chain, from processing raw materials to finished product delivery, usually require the maintenance function to perform effectively, efficiently and economically at the highest possible levels. 

Plant facilities, machinery, equipment and distribution/service units make maintenance a prime function in an organization.  The two main reasons it is so important are that expensive assets always should be in productive conditions and facility and equipment longevity should be protected and extended as long as possible.

With such importance, why should the maintenance function have different interpretations, execution difficulties, personnel restraints and budget issues? Historically, maintenance in most operating plants has been treated as a second cousin, given numerous name tags and subjected to close scrutiny, especially during budget time. Amidst these issues, maintenance does have a realistic and significant role. However, to overcome these apparent obstacles, it always is necessary and prudent to clearly understand what is meant by “maintenance” and how assigned people are motivated to effectively perform the function.

For more than 50 years in beverage and other industries, maintenance has been identified by mechanics, manufacturers, engineers and consultants with various terms in attempts to specify operating conditions and events involving facilities, machinery, equipment and systems. Before outlining definitions, it is appropriate to distinguish between two major maintenance categories and to accept that everything must be maintained — and personnel must be motivated to perform maintenance tasks. Investigations have found that unless maintenance is given a prioritized identity, the motivation to accomplish the task can be less than desirable.

The two categories are simply the unexpected and the expected. Both categories represent the nemesis of downtime and emphasize the need for maintenance activity and the significant relationship between both.

Usually, unexpected events relate to machine part failure, control malfunctions, packaging material jams, lax attendant observation or some other system breakdown. Such events traditionally have been referred to as emergency maintenance (EM). Whatever the cause, facility, machine or system, it becomes an emergency. Handling EM is difficult because it occurs randomly, is expensive, usually is disliked by mechanics and often results in temporary solutions.

Expected events usually are those that result from a manufacturer’s machine or material specifications requiring servicing and/or replacement according to calendar time, production hours or package volume. Using such a bona fide basis, various maintenance systems have been developed and labeled — preventive, predictive, planned, protective, etc. — as maintenance advocates try to establish a realistic and practical definition. 

Observation, evaluation and analysis indicate most systems involve a collaborative effort combining experience, specifications and system characteristics to formulate a practical and logistical scheduling plan to perform maintenance. What you call it is secondary to the mission at hand. Originally, these events were called preventative maintenance (PM) because the intent was to prevent EM from occurring.

Adopting and executing PM tasks according to a legitimate plan allows maintenance departments to integrate production schedules, procure necessary materials and parts in advance, dovetail tasks into the overall production scheme and allocate appropriate personnel for specific projects. Whether manual or computerized, a well-developed and executed PM plan can motivate a maintenance staff because a work plan is known in advance.

Emergency and preventive are simple, realistic terms everyone should understand to realize a productive approach for maintenance assignment, execution and result. Although recent contacts indicate no great emphasis is put on EM/PM situations, the real-time relationship between EM and PM is significant and a worthwhile tool for maintenance management to motivate their personnel.

Tracking emergency downtime and cost should motivate maintenance management to analyze and evaluate the why, where and how involved in specific operating conditions. With technology advancements, emergency situations are becoming more important and expensive. 

PM is the counterpart. It ensures higher utilization (reduces downtime), increases labor and machine productivity, reduces material losses, has a favorable effect on maintenance capability and results in lower cost for each unit produced.

From an operations perspective, the EM/PM relationship is an excellent incentive to motivate a maintenance staff to perform at high productivity levels.