Often Forgotten: The Benefits of Preventive Maintenance
December 8, 2021
Preventive maintenance is something we’ll do later, isn’t it?
When asked to write about preventive maintenance my mouth became a little dry. It’s not the flashy or nail-biting part of the story; it’s not the final touches to the picture or even the gilt frame. But it is the glue that keeps the frame together, the oil that keeps the engine running smoothly. That’s what makes it important. Preventive maintenance keeps equipment functioning and processes moving, reducing delays in manufacturing and testing. It keeps the clock ticking for bioprocesses that are increasingly switched to a permanent ‘ON’. The future of bioprocessing is continuous!
So, what are the benefits of preventive maintenance? There is clearly a need for this as a service but how will it positively impact my business?
This blog is a gentle reminder of the many benefits gained by adhering to regular maintenance schedules and how preventive maintenance fits into the bigger picture of manufacturing quality biopharma products.
What is preventive maintenance?
Most simply stated, preventive maintenance is a critical part of ensuring your equipment is operating as expected and will continue to do so. All equipment has a recommended maintenance schedule and should be optimized to do everything possible to prevent foreseeable failure modes. Following it is the simplest plan that helps minimize the risk of costly repairs and unscheduled downtime in the future. Preventive maintenance is best undertaken by a trained and certified service engineer who can verify the correct operation and functionality of all critical equipment components. As a proactive approach, this type of service not only results in early identification of potential issues, but the service report is a document that confirms due diligence in the eyes of a quality auditor.
Reduce Downtime… Reduce Risk
Everyone has different attitudes to risk but in a biopharma environment, we all have a responsibility to reduce it. When equipment goes without maintenance performed at regular intervals, there is always the risk that a component may fail, leading to process or testing downtime as well as the potential to alter critical process parameters that may have a direct impact upon product quality. With the increasing importance of modern vaccines in today’s world, a worst case scenario is more than just a financial loss, it can slow down the flow of time-sensitive medicines. It’s a simple case of planned vs unplanned. Planned maintenance reduces the risk of unplanned downtime with the added benefit of ensuring a system is performing with optimum functionality.
Enhance Equipment Health
Preventive maintenance also gives you peace of mind that components are operating within manufacturer’s specifications. Systems consistently running within specification ensure increased efficiency in your process or testing regime. It goes without saying that component and overall equipment reliability increases when a recommended maintenance schedule is followed. Regular maintenance goes beyond simple visual inspection, it confirms the condition of critical working components, promoting overall system health.
Ensure Operator Safety
Safety is obviously a key consideration when designing and manufacturing equipment and systems, especially when following Quality by Design principles. Despite this, constant product throughput, multiple operators and many hours of use can lead to wear and tear, and in extreme cases, unvalidated modifications. This can inevitably bring with it the risk of operator injury. Scheduled preventive maintenance helps to increase facility safety and can lead to fewer injuries in the workplace. A trained service engineer adds value, verifying correct functionality of safety interlocks giving operators confidence in the equipment.
Increase Cost Savings and Longer Equipment Life
Weighing up the difference between a regular planned service cost and the financial loss created by process/equipment downtime would clearly show that a preventive maintenance schedule results in cost savings. Equipment reliability leads to longer life which in turn leads to further savings. At its very best, preventive maintenance becomes a perpetual circle whereby regular servicing leads to ongoing reliability, cost saving, and above all else, continuity of bioprocessing and assurance of product quality.
Returning to my opening statement. Or was it a question? Is preventive maintenance something we instigate later? Often yes, but sometimes it is just another forgotten task on an endless list.
Maybe it’s time for a simple plan to ease any unnecessary pain. Book a service and reap the benefits.
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John Cramer, Senior Field Service Engineer
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