Maintenance vs Operations

The maintenance department and the operation side of a business are often disconnected. While both groups significantly impact an organization and its success, more often than not the two departments act like opponents rather than members of the same team. This prompts questions including, why is it common for these two groups to bump heads? And what can you do to foster a better working relationship and improve the overall operation?

The maintenance department and the operation side of a business are often disconnected. While both groups significantly impact an organization and its success, more often than not the two departments act like opponents rather than members of the same team. This prompts questions including, why is it common for these two groups to bump heads? And what can you do to foster a better working relationship and improve the overall operation?

I think most manufacturing professionals will agree that the main difference between operations and maintenance is their focus. Operations focus on maximum production; run equipment 100% of the time to produce as much product as possible. The maintenance team on the other hand value preserving the lifespan of the equipment. At the very core of their responsibilities, operations and maintenance are put at odds to perform their work to the best of their abilities.

The operations team is pressured to increase production. Maintenance is being pushed to minimize their expenditures and make equipment last longer. Both groups know their role is important to the organization but they view the other team as an obstacle in getting their work accomplished. Maintenance needs to shut down equipment to maintain it and that down time gets in the way of operations ability to produce. Operations resistance to shutting down their equipment gets in the way of the maintenance of the equipment. Both groups need one another, if operations didn’t produce product, there would be no need for the maintenance department. And if operations didn’t have the maintenance team to fix their equipment they would not be able to produce.

What can help foster a better working relationship between maintenance and operations? It begins at the management level. Why not recognize each department for their value and stop undermining one group to the other. Hearing others have negative opinions of the opposing team does not help foster a working relationship, in fact it propels the negative feelings.

Further the partnership between maintenance and operations by:

Include operators in basic inspections and essential care of equipment– promotes communication, builds ownership, and makes sure all parties are well informed.

Agree on guidelines for priorities of work requests-getting everyone on the same page will define reasonable expectations.

Communicate production plans– schedule regular meetings to review the plan and discuss complications. Knowing what the goal is the first step in accomplishing it.

Create a joint shutdown schedule– a schedule will further emphasis deadlines and communication between departments.

Make it your mission to foster working relationships between operations and maintenance staff at your facility. It is sure to make a difference!

 

 

 

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