Take Advantage Of Holiday Shutdowns By Scheduling Your Robotic Preventative Maintenance


Scheduled Shutdowns:  The perfect time for preventative maintenance and process improvement projects.

In order to remain competitive in the global market, manufacturers rely on scheduled shutdowns to complete projects such as; preventative maintenance, automation process improvements, and robot and robotic work-cell upgrades. This permits skilled maintenance crews the ability to complete critical projects without impacting the production schedule.

A well-managed preventive maintenance program will utilize shutdowns to ensure unplanned production downtime is minimized by completing preventative tasks on schedule.  It is important to follow the equipment manufactures preventative maintenance schedule in order to prolong the life of your equipment.  Neglecting to complete the recommended P.M. will lead to costly unplanned downtime, premature failures, loss of data, and quality defects. 

Traditionally there have been two major shutdowns that occur annually.  The week between Christmas & New Years and the week of July 4th  typically do not have production scheduled, thus making them ideal for project work.  These shutdowns are typically used for large scale preventative maintenance, process improvement projects, or model changeovers. 

For smaller projects that require more than just a two-day weekend, there are several long weekends throughout the year that can be utilized.   Good Friday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving are all long weekends that when planned properly, can be used for completing smaller projects.

Planning is critical for any shutdown project.   Failure to plan for projects that have a tight window of opportunity can end up being costly.   Failure to complete a project on-time can impact production targets and/or quality.   

Items for consideration when planning a shutdown project:

Identify a Project Manager:  The PM is expected to plan, organize and execute the project. This is the person that will keep the project on budget, on schedule, and do what is necessary to follow through with the plan.

Planning: Create a detailed schedule with milestones and action items identified.  Review the schedule and plan with the team before the project commences and revise as needed.    Each project team member should be aware of their specific responsibilities, project workflow and schedule. 

Safety: Every project has potential safety hazards; a complete site safety plan is important to ensure a safe outcome.  Completing a hazard assessment prior to starting the work will ensure your project is planned with a Safety 1st mentality.  Reviewing safety plans with your team will keep everyone on their toes and working safely.  As a Robotic Industry Association (R.I.A) Certified Integrator, RobotWorx makes safety priority one with all projects we undertake. 

Items to keep in mind when developing your safety plan:

  • Personal Protective Equipment requirements (PPE)
  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)
  • Fire & Combustibles Watch
  • Permits or Certifications that are required

Proper Training: Training specific to the project must be identified and completed prior to the project commencing.  Failure to have the right skills for the project will be costly if not identified in the planning phase.  This includes understanding safe operation of the robots or other equipment, understanding what is required to complete the preventive maintenance and specifics on how to perform the planned repairs.  With more than 27 years of experience, RobotWorx prides itself on being an industry expert in mechanical repairs.

Grease Analysis: Each axis should be consistently checked and re-greased when necessary. Properly lubricated axes help to prevent premature wear from excessive friction, vibration, and heat. Monitoring iron content with a grease analysis is important for identifying potential problems and preventing costly failures. An increase in the iron content can be an indicator of a potential problem.  Performing grease sampling before a planned shutdown helps maintenance engineers prioritize work based on Predictive Maintenance Metrics such as; Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) & Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).

Required Inventory: A well-planned inventory of the needed parts will avoid project delays.  Lead times for missing parts can be costly to the schedule and budget. If you do not have needed spare parts in stock, plan to place your order well enough in advance, in order to receive them on time. RobotWorx takes pride in helping to fulfill those hard to find items. We have thousands of new and reconditioned robot parts in stock. Most orders have same day shipment available and are backed by our full-replacement 30-day warranty. 

Common parts to consider when planning a robot maintenance project:

  • Memory Card or USB for backups
  • Controller CPU battery
  • Manipulator batteries
  • Grease
  • Gear oil
  • Controller air filter
  • Cables & Harnesses

Execute: Follow the plan and schedule.  Audit the plan and schedule to manage the project.  Adjust as required and be ready to implement contingency plans as needed.  Always complete a proper check out of the equipment before handing it over to production!

Lessons Learned: At the completion of a project, a Lessons Learned session should be conducted, with the entire team.  These lessons will be invaluable for process improvement and efficiency of the next project.

Celebrate the success of a well-executed project!  By being proactive at managing risks, by taking care of robotic maintenance, can be the difference between success and failure! Excelling at project management of shutdown projects will ensure maximum uptime and prevent costly downtime.

Contact RobotWorx experts for any questions you may have or spare parts you need

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