The maintenance function within a production, manufacturing or processing environment has always been a neglected area. Senior management has always related the function to sweeping floors, cleaning toilets or changing oil in machines where special attention is not required. Evidence collected in recent years however, has proved otherwise. For decades management scientists have spent large amount of time and effort in perfecting management techniques in areas such as production, personnel management, organization behaviour, financial accounting and similar aspects of business where benefits (or profits) are obvious.
Typical organizational characteristics of a maintenance department are explored together with their advantages and disadvantages. A brief insight into the influences exerted by both mathematics and operations research in the area is also provided.
The report then proceeds onto presenting two types of maintenance - preventative and emergency. Under emergency situations the fault simply has to be rectified to save production and equipment. The best management technique is to despatch emergency crew as soon as possible. On the prevention side the concept is different. Since the entire operation revolves around scheduling and work management practices established management techniques can be introduced to make the function more efficient. A preventative maintenance programme (PMP) is introduced. To participate, management is first of all required to conduct an overall system audit to evaluate what should be included in the programme. From the auditing result the hows and whens are answered. This report also advocates the importance of monitoring the programme. Plans are effective only if there are built-in mechanisms to monitor and evaluate progress.
The latest practice in maintenance is to engage external organizations to perform the work - contracting. This approach relieves the organization from all personnel management and staffing problems. In return it has to devise means of monitoring and safeguarding the quality of work performed. Furthermore, it is necessary for the organisation to formulate standards which can be applied in the selection and evaluation of the contractor's ability.
With the recent advances in computer technology - both in hardware and in software - the maintenance function cannot but be advantaged from the progress. Manual conditions monitoring, which has been utilized for quite some time, is progressively being replaced by computer based conditions monitoring systems which are far more efficient. Progresses in information processing science have created a new breed of computer system called the Expert System which possesses artificial intelligence. While artificial intelligence is still in its infancy (on a commercial scale), this report postulates that when the technology matures there will exist some form of computer based maintenance system that can monitor, diagnose, prescribe and perform corrective actions --a closed loop maintenance system.
Until that stage arrives all current developments are concentrated on maintenance information processing systems. The report investigates the salient features of an ideal computerised maintenance management information system and its usefulness to management.
In the immediate future the word for maintenance management is Terotechnology which is a combination of management, financial, engineering and other practices as applied to physical assets in pursuit of economic life cycle costs. If the concept is applied properly the need for maintenance can either be minimised or eliminated.
Finally, the report reviews the maintenance management practices (or lack of) within the Department of Aviation, Queensland Region according to concepts covered. It reveals the problems and makes recommendations targeted at the causes. Furthermore the report suggests untapped capabilities within existing facilities which can be utilized to enhance maintenance in the future.