Maintenance metrics 101: A crash course in data-driven maintenance

Maintenance metrics 101: A crash course in data-driven maintenance

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What are maintenance metrics?

At their core, maintenance metrics are measurements. They’re pieces of information in the form of numbers. This information is used to track the status of a specific process (the number of work orders the maintenance department receives in a day, for example).

Maintenance metrics translate action into numbers to give clarity on the performance of everyone and everything at your facility. They allow you to trace results back to their roots so you can make better decisions and improve your operation in meaningful ways.

There is a difference between maintenance KPIs and maintenance metrics. KPIs connect progress to performance, while metrics connect performance to action. In other words, KPIs are the target you’re aiming at and metrics are the arrows you’re shooting at the target. For example, your maintenance KPI might be downtime and the metrics you measure for this KPI might include mean time to repair (MTTR) or inventory accuracy.

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Why are maintenance metrics important?

Imagine that your car didn’t have a gas gauge, an odometer, or a speedometer. Now, imagine driving this car to work every day. It would be utter chaos, complete with empty gas tanks, speeding tickets, and expensive breakdowns.

If something about this scenario feels familiar, you’re not alone. Many maintenance teams find it difficult to gauge the big-picture impact of their day-to-day tasks. But it’s impossible to improve what you can’t measure, which is why metrics are crucial to the success of any organization.

Common maintenance metrics

Everything in maintenance can be divided into two areas: people and assets. Tracking, analyzing and optimizing the performance of these two elements is the key to maintenance success. That’s why all maintenance metrics flow from these components.

Operational metrics: Measuring the way people work

Efficiency is a must in maintenance. So are humans. The two are intertwined. Measuring the performance of your team makes it easier to eliminate inefficiencies, redundancies, and reactive maintenance. Operational metrics help you manage your people so they can achieve their full potential.

Asset performance metrics: Measuring the way equipment works

Assets make the products that your company is built on. That’s why it’s key for equipment to function reliably (and for a long time). Asset metrics allow you to track the way maintenance impacts asset performance and ensure equipment always runs like it’s supposed to.

Inventory metrics: Measuring the way parts work

Good inventory management often leads to good maintenance. When the right part is in the right location, tasks are done quickly and correctly. Inventory metrics arm you with the information needed to make better decisions about spare parts and help your maintenance excel.

What maintenance metrics should you be measuring?

One of the biggest mistakes maintenance teams make is blindly adopting every measurement. This often leads to disappointment, because metrics only lead to positive change when they’re relevant, understood, and acted upon. Just because most organizations use a stat, it doesn’t mean that it’ll make sense for your operation to use it too.

There are a few key steps to take when choosing the maintenance metrics that make sense for your organization.

  1. Understand what your organizational objectives are.
  2. Create a big-picture plan for achieving these goals.
  3. Tie each objective to a quantifiable KPI. Ask yourself, “What is the desired outcome and why does it matter?”
  4. Decide who has the ability to implement this plan and how. Determine your methods for measuring progress and influencing the outcome.
  5. Get feedback from a variety of stakeholders, like technicians and operators. Ask them which processes are tied to certain KPIs. This will lead you to the metrics that matter for your company.

How to track maintenance metrics

After selecting your metrics, you need to know how to track them. This is done with three crucial ingredients: Tools, processes, and people.

The right tools capture the numbers and calculate the metrics. The right processes turn that data into information, and that information into a strategy. Finally, the right people help your organization run the tools, execute the processes, and implement strategies.

There are three key questions you need to ask to make sure you get the right tools, processes, and people.

  1. How are you going to measure progress?
    This question helps you get organized. It establishes which tools are best for tracking the numbers you want, who is responsible for monitoring progress, your methods for keeping data accurate, and a process for analyzing results.
  2. How can you influence the outcome?
    This question helps you take action. It allows you to wrap your head around all the ways a metric can be influenced and identify which metrics you have control of, so you can build a strategy around them.
  3. How will you know if you’re successful?
    This question helps you close the loop. It creates a finish line to aim for, so you can understand if you need a new goal or if you need to make adjustments to reach the one you already have.

How to use metrics to improve your maintenance operation

Maintenance metrics are useless if they don’t lead to real change at your organization. There are plenty of ways that metrics can be used to make your operation better in the areas that matter most to you and your company.

Reduce downtime

Examining maintenance metrics allows you to determine where downtime is a problem and how it’s caused. For example, analyzing MTBF and MTTR can help you identify if downtime is caused by a fundamental issue with an asset or by a weak work order process. You can use maintenance metrics to connect the dots and eliminate bad habits or the root cause of breakdowns to reduce downtime.

Improve health and safety

Reactive maintenance has been shown to cause more than twice the number of accidents than preventive maintenance. Measuring maintenance metrics, like PMP and PMC, can give your preventive maintenance program a boost and help you prevent accidents and pass audits. These metrics allow you to find ways that the work order process can be improved, giving technicians the tools and resources they need to do the job more quickly, easily, and safely.

Cut costs

Maintenance metrics can help you spot where you’re spending money unnecessarily. Take stock turn ratio as an example. Calculating STR tells you if you’re overstocking or understocking inventory, which is a starting point for identifying high-usage and low-usage parts. This allows you to maximize your inventory budget and mitigate the impact of breakdowns by ensuring crucial parts are onsite.

Increase efficiency

Efficient assets and efficient maintenance operations are often linked. Overall equipment effectiveness is a maintenance metric that can pinpoint where efficiency is lacking in your operation so you can fix it. OEE is a tool for evaluating the people, processes, and tools that impact production. For example, if poor quality is dragging your OEE downwards, it is likely due to process failures or a lack of standardization. With this information, you can work on improving these areas of your operation.

Communicate the value of maintenance

Maintenance is often a thankless profession, but being able to communicate its value is key to getting extra resources and executive buy-in for new strategies. Numbers tell the best story, which is where maintenance metrics can help. They allow you to connect a change in process (moving from paper to digital work orders), to a quantifiable improvement (lower MTTR), and that improvement to ROI (increased uptime/revenue).

Maintenance metrics: The building blocks of maintenance success

Information is one of the best tools any maintenance professional can use. The more information you have, the less you have to rely on intuition and guesswork. When you can eliminate uncertainty from the equation, everything from uptime to efficiency increases. Maintenance metrics can provide this valuable information to organizations so they can make smarter decisions about everything from inventory management to asset performance. Maximizing the potential of these metrics ultimately depends on the systems and processes put in place by facilities. If you are prepared to manage the data that comes your way, the sky is the limit for your maintenance operation.

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