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In maintenance, the last thing you want is surprises. You need to be able to trust that your assets and equipment are always online when you need them. 

Improving equipment reliability is a big part of making that happen. 

But before we look at how to make it better, it's important to first define what it is. 

What is equipment reliability? 

A popular definition for reliability is "the probability that a component or system will perform a required function for a given time when used under stated operating conditions." 

So, for equipment reliability, it's the chance that a piece of equipment does what you want, when you want it to, in a specific way. 

Another way to think about it is as the answer to the question "How much do I trust this equipment to not surprise me?" For example, imagine you have equipment that should produce ten tin cans a minute. After running it for an hour, how sure are you that you now have 600 cans? 

How can you improve equipment reliability? 

The answer is that question is there there's more than one answer, and a lot of the answers have more than one step. 

So, what are the answers and what are their steps? 

Track as much good data as you can, keep it safe, and make it accessible 

The best place to start is with solid data. The more you know about your equipment, the easier everything else is for you. 

But "data" itself is not a good goal. Instead, you want reliable data you can use. So, you need ways to capture it, a place to keep it, and then ways to share it. 

Buy equipment that's easy to maintain 

Even before you have the equipment, you can start to set yourself for success. 

When looking at new equipment, make sure to include a review of how easy or hard it is to maintain. You can look at the various access panels to see how easily you can get inside. Another thing to look for is parts availability. Are there are lot of one-of-kind specialty parts or is most of it standard? What about suppliers? How quickly could you get parts in? And what about the maintenance you can't do yourself? When you have to call in an expert, how long does that take? 

These might seem like small things, but they do make a difference. Think about checking the oil on your car. The dip stick is easy to find and easy to access. But what about if you had to remove one of the back tires and then crawl under the car to get to it? Would you buy a car knowing the only parts supplier was three days away and the only certified mechanic was 10 time zones behind? 

Having good data here can be critical. Before investing in anything new, you can look at what you already have and how it's performing. Are parts hard to get for that press from Company A? Don't buy anything else from them, then. Or, looking at the maintenance and repair histories, is the conveyor belt from Company B always bending itself out of alignment? It's worth your time to shop around a bit, then. 

Save yourself from future headaches. You have enough already. 

Use the right maintenance strategies 

Once you have the equipment, it's on you to maintain it. You need to decide which maintenance strategy best matches the machine. In the end, it's likely you need a combination of different strategies to get the best reliability. 

It's the same thing you do with your car. You use preventive maintenance to check and change the oil. A lot of things in the engine require condition-based maintenance. Modern cars have a ton of different sensors, but even the old classics have temperature gauges to warn you of overheating. For the window washer fluid, you use reactive maintenance, usually filling it up only after you run out. 

There's a long list of benefits to having the right sets of strategies, including more uptime, less unscheduled downtime, and fewer and smaller costs. 

Those are all ones you can track directly, but there are also intangible benefits. Good maintenance means less stress. Once you can better predict your workday, life is just better. 

Buy quality parts and materials 

Even the best maintenance can't make up for bad parts and low-quality materials. No matter how diligently you check and change the oil on your car, it's not helping if you're only using the cheapest oil. 

It's the same with equipment reliability. You might have the best preventive maintenance schedule, but you're just wasting time if the team is swapping out broken parts with bad ones. 

Here again, data is your best friend. Because you know your supplies and can check the maintenance and repair histories for all your assets and equipment, you can quickly get a sense of who has the best parts and materials. That great deal you got on industrial lubricant might actually be gumming up the works. 

How can equipment maintenance software help you boost equipment reliability? 

Modern solutions deliver a lot of benefits, and many of them are thanks to how the software helps you collect good data and then make good use of it. 

If you're still using paper and spreadsheets to try to manage maintenance, you know all the built-in problems. With paper, generating data is a long, slow process with a lot of chances for introducing mistakes. And with spreadsheets, it's a lot easier to produce data, but it's also really hard to keep any of it up to date. Everyone has their own version of the spreadsheet files, and none of them are corrected. When you make changes to one copy of a file, nothing gets carried over to the other copies.   

ScheduledWorkORders_DesktopWith modern equipment maintenance software, data capture is both a lot easier and a lot less prone to mistakes. Instead of scribbling notes on paper, you put everything into the same database, where you never have to worry about losing it. And because everyone is working from the database, no one is looking at stale data. When you update data, everyone sees the changes in real time. 

The software also helps you get better data from techs out in the field. Because they can access the software through an app on any mobile device, they don't have to wait until they're back in the office before adding updates. Instead of having to rely on memory, they can add or update data when it's still fresh in their head. 

Next steps 

Ready to boost equipment reliability with modern equipment maintenance software? 

 Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about maintenance management software, helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.

CEO summary 

Equipment reliability is simply the chance a piece of equipment is available when you need it. The higher the reliability, the lower the chances the equipment can surprise you. There are many steps you can take to increase reliability. Before buying new equipment, you can check to see how easy it is to maintain and repair. Also, you can check the relative reliability of existing equipment from the same vendors. Other things to consider are the availability of parts and people. Don't buy equipment if the service techs are too far away. Choosing the right maintenance strategies and using quality parts also helps. Modern equipment maintenance software plays an important role in improving equipment reliability. There's a long list of benefits, including helping you collect and leverage the reliable data you need to make the right decisions with your equipment. 

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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