Category: Business

Reactive or Proactive Maintenance – Which is Best?

Choosing a suitable cost-effective maintenance plan for your company

Maintenance – a word that sparks a sense of uneasiness and tediousness, yet something that any business needs to see to every now and then. Be it a computer that is not running properly, or a machine that breaks down, maintenance is basically a normal business operation and it needs to be seen to from time to time. Replacing, restoring, fixing, reinstalling, and various other tasks are involved in the maintenance routine. The main goal is to ensure that the particular asset can be preserved from failure or breakdown, so as to continue to make use of it.

In this field, there are two main viewpoints. There are those who feel that it is best to fix a problem when it arises. That is the approach advocated by Reactive maintenance. Then, there are those who prefer to think ahead and carry out some maintenance procedures to prevent the machine from failing or breaking down. This is Proactive or Planned Preventive Maintenance. Both these maintenance approaches have their advantages and disadvantages and there is no way where one can say that one is better than the other in all respects.

Understanding the pros & cons

Reactive maintenance is carried out when a need arises, or when a certain fault is identified. The main goal in such a case is to try to resolve the issue as soon as possible as in the meantime operations such as production may end up being halted to the breakdown or fault. There might be way to continue operating, but in most cases there will be a loss in productivity, efficiency and sometimes in sales involved. So response and repair times are critical aspects of reactive maintenance. Having said that, reactive maintenance is an approach that is preferred by some organizations nonetheless. Many feel that there is no need to spend time and money on carrying out assessments for nothing, as generally faults or problems identified during a proactive maintenance assessment are minimal.

Reactive Maintenance Impact. Image credit: Blogspot

Speaking of a proactive maintenance approach, it is important to point out that this will be carried out by establishing a plan. This will include a schedule where specific pieces of equipment are evaluated or assessed so as to check if any components or parts need to be replaced, and if there are any problems that need to be resolved before they get worse. The purpose is obviously to predict problems so as to prevent them from actually occurring. In such a scenario, should there be a problem, it will generally be a small and manageable one. There would also be the advantage of not having to go through the pressure and limited time to try to fix it. Repairs and replacements can be done at ease, or scheduled to be carried out at a later date by a skilled person.

Abnormality Reporting is the Key to Proactive Maintenance. Image credit: Maintenance Phoenix

With a proactive maintenance approach you will be able to have more peace of mind and fewer disruptions. If regular checks are carried out chances are that you will not be encountering serious problems. Quick fixes are generally all that will be required, and so there is no need to disrupt workers and operations due to large problems or breakdowns.

There is thus a lower risk associated with proactive maintenance, and naturally this is conducive to a safer and better working environment. It is also important to note that when equipment is maintained regularly it will be running optimally, and often there will be energy savings associated with this. However with preventive maintenance there is often a great deal of planning involved, as well as the risk of spending up more money due to over maintenance. There is more money and more work involved too to lead such regular inspections.

Therefore there are clearly pros and cons associated with each method of maintenance. For those who are not sure which approach is most feasible and effective for their business, here are some tips to help you make a good choice. Reactive maintenance is generally suitable when it can be performed on components which are somewhat easy to replace or inexpensive. So if your business does not have high-tech machines and most maintenance can be carried out without worrying about collateral damage or safety issues, then reactive maintenance should suffice. Reactive maintenance is also suitable for those businesses that cannot plan a preventive maintenance schedule due to high costs or a lack of feasibility. On the other hand, with a preventive or predictive approach, you will have the advantage of improving the efficiency and life expectancy of your assets, as well as anticipating problems before they actually occur. You benefit from improving your reliability thanks to assets that are almost always running in proper conditions. However, there are still going to be cases where you will need to fix a machine there and then, despite all the planning and costs involved with your predictive maintenance schedule. So in some cases predictive maintenance may prove to be costly and rather unfeasible. At the end of the day you will need to make a decision based on what seems to be best for your business in terms of costs and practicability.

How to build a Plywood or MDF Workbench

Having a workbench is really great as it can serve so many purposes. If you are a DIY lover you certainly appreciate the practicality of a workbench.

From the much-needed storage space that if offers for your tools or extra pieces of wood, to having a solid area where to see to small jobs, a workbench is a welcome addition to your workshop. However, you may not have one yet. Chances are you had made up your mind to buy one, only to find that the prices charged for readymade workbenches are quite high. So why don’t you just build one yourself? It is really not that complicated, and you could surely use one. Here is how to do it:

Materials Required

Acquire the materials you need. Basically a full sheet of plywood or MDF cut to size measuring 8” by 4” and between 18mm and 24mm deep should do the trick. If you have the possibility of choosing between plywood and MDF, it is recommended to opt for plywood as it is a a lot stronger when compared to MDF. Plywood is more moisture resistant than MDF and it will hold together better. You will also need six stainless steel corner brackets, and a box of self-tapping wood screws.

A Circular Saw is Perfect for Cutting Plywood or MDF. Image credit: Highland Woodworking

Tools Make Light Work

Get the tools, namely an electric circular or handsaw, an electric jigsaw and an electric drill with a 2mm wood drill bit.

Getting Started

Now that you have all that you need, let’s start cutting. You need to have all the parts that will make up your workbench cut out in the right dimensions. Start with the sides of the bench, which should be about 80cm long and 37cm wide. Then cut the back panel of the workbench, at 112cm by 81cm, and the horizontal middle shelf, which should be of the exact same length. Next, cut the top of the workbench, and finally the centre vertical shelf support, which although being the smallest piece, it will be holding every other part in its proper place more robustly.

Now that all the parts are cut out, you can start assembling your workbench. To make things easier, it is best to attach the brackets to the side panels and to the centre shelf support. So, lay each panel flat, mark with a pencil where each bracket will be attached (about 5cm from the edges), and drill the pilot holes. Then, attach the brackets to the panels. You will find this very helpful when you reach the final step of the assembly process as they will be already in their rightful place and you will not face any problems trying to attach them while the frame is already done and restricting your view and accessibility.

Next, mark halfway along the length of the centre shelf. Drill two pilot holes where it will be attached to the support panel. Then, attach them to each other.

Now you need to attach the side panels of the workbench. Carefully mark where the pilot holes will be and then drill and attach neatly. Repeat with the other side. At this point you should have an H-frame. It is best to have someone helping you especially to hold the parts in place while you drill and attach.

It is now time to attach the back panel of the workbench. Place the frame onto its front, and lay the back panel in place. Make sure it fits snugly to the frame. Drill carefully and attach with wood screws. For more sturdiness screw the back panel to the centre support too. You can also drill screws through the back panel into the shelf panel as well for an even sturdier result.

And at last we come to the top of your workbench. Lay the constructed frame onto the back, place the top panel in place, and attach it by screwing it through the L-brackets that had been attached previously.

A Simple Plywood Workbench Project. Image credit: This Is Carpentry

Final Finishing

And your workbench is now complete. You might notice some rough edges here and there where you cut. Use some coarse sandpaper to sand them and gain a smoother finish. To make your workbench look even nice, you can also stain it or colour it with appropriate wood paint. In case you will be placing it outdoors, make sure to use a good quality exterior wood paint. Allow it to dry, and give it another coating for a neater look. Once it has dried up well, you may then fill it up with tools, materials and any other items that were lying around in your workshop until now. Your compact workbench is a practical addition to your workshop, and it did not take long or cost much to build didn’t it?! You can also have the pride of having managed to build it on your own, apart from having saved money too.