4 Simple Steps to Setting Up a Lean Maintenance Program

Evolve from a culture of fire fighting to one of flawless maintenance execution and more time spent on improvement activities by implementing a Lean Maintenance program. Here are four clear and simple steps to setting up your Lean Maintenance program.

Step 1: Prioritize which maintenance tasks you will focus on improving. An easy way to do this is to make a list of known and common maintenance tasks. This could include planned maintenance (PMs) and common reactive maintenance tasks such as lubricating conveyors, replacing gaskets, or calibrating scales. Put all of these tasks into a list in a spreadsheet. For each task, estimate how long each task takes and how often each task is done. Multiply across to get the total time spent on each task. Sort the list so that tasks that consume the most time are at the top and make those the priority for improvement.

Step 2: Conduct value stream mapping for those high consumption tasks to identify room for improvement (waste). Make a clear list of all the steps associated with the task (ie replacing gaskets). Apply times to all the steps being taken by the mechanic. Identify which steps are needed and which are not and eliminate the unnecessary steps. Identify ways to reduce time required for needed steps by kitting tools/parts, organizing the storeroom (5S), and acquiring the best tools to do a job efficiently just to name a few techniques. Also consider satellite store-rooms, which are smaller specialized maintenace storerooms located near problem areas to minimize walk time. Finally, consider Point of Use Supplies (POUS), which means having the tools needed for a job stored right at the jobsite.

Step 3: Develop Standards of Work for tasks that have been streamlined using value stream mapping. Your work standards should have key elements:

– A title and consistant naming structure for all standards

– A way to control versions (so most current standards are always in use)

– A clear step-by-step process for completing a task

– Time frames allotted for each task

– Warnings and watchouts so that tasks can be done safely and accurately

– Use pictures for key steps to help minimize confusion and mistakes

Train your mechanics and high performing operators on the work standards and document who has been trained, when, and so on.

Step 4: Measure the actual performance of your maintenance team against the standards and use Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to improve performance. Use the times established while creating standards to identify how many tasks the mechanics should be able to complete in a day/week/month. If the team isn’t getting through the expected tasks, use RCA to troubleshoot why targets aren’t being met and identify actions to be taken to help meet targets. Make sure metrics and performance is visible to the entire facility on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so the whole facility knows how the team is performing. This puts peer pressure on the team to perform at a high level.

A few key Lean Maintenance metrics include (but not limited to):

Maintenance cost per unit

Overtime %

Energy cost per unit

Backlog Weeks

PM hrs vs Reactive hrs

% Planned Maintenance

Schedule Effectiveness


I hope you find this process helpful in your Lean Maintenance journey. Feel free to post questions or comments if you’d like more details on any of the ideas covered.

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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