March 6, 2006 | Ken Reed

Operators or Maintenance Techs?

Recently, some questions have arisen concerning how much maintenance should be expected from equipment operators. One recent comment really raised my eyebrows. It was estimated that nearly 50% of the manufacturing and 60% of the mobile mining maintenance is being performed by the operators, not the maintenance techs! This seemed to be a little hard to believe. After all, we are paying our operators to operate the gear, and we are paying a completely different bunch of folks to repair the equipment. If these figures are true, what gives?

Probably, the reason these figures are so out of the expected range is that the preventive and corrective maintenance plans in place at these particular plants are not up to par. If the operators feel they must be the ones conducting repairs and maintenance, it must be that they believe that there is no one else to do it. It also means that the equipment is probably broken so often that they must assist in the repairs of their gear if they ever expect to operate it. Our operators are now focussing over half of their time on issues not related to equipment operation.

Take a look at how your maintenance programs are divided. If you find that your “operators” are “maintainers”, it might be time to re-evaluate your division of labor, along with the effectiveness of your preventive and corrective maintenance programs.

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