Why Preventive Maintenance (PM) is Critical for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Reliable pharmaceutical manufacturing begins with dedicated equipment. A well-maintained facility with functional machinery is, obviously, more productive than a poorly maintained facility with frequent machine failure. Equipment malfunction can lead to issues like batch contamination, safety concerns, and decreased overall site functionality. Despite this clear connection, many manufacturers struggle to develop and keep up with a maintenance strategy that works for all equipment types within the facility.
There are three* major approaches to maintenance, predictive, preventive, and corrective:
|Uses root-cause analysis and advanced tools to stay ahead of facility maintenance needs
|Uses manuals and manufacturer recommendations to set best practices and maintenance expectations
|Relies on real-time problem solving and periodic maintenance to correct facility issues as-needed basis.
|Custom, predictive schedules are developed based on equipment criticality, and specific maintenance needs (often created based on failure analysis)
|Schedules are pre-determined by either set periods or specific equipment maintenance guidelines
|Uses a standard program for all equipment, if any maintenance is scheduled ahead of time (often monthly or quarterly, regardless of failure analysis)
|Major equipment failure
|Aims to avoid significant equipment issues by proactively addressing issues before they escalate or create problems with other, connected pieces of equipment
|Aims to prevent significant equipment issues by proactively addressing issues before they escalate or develop problems with other, related articles of equipment
|Corrects problems with equipment as these problems arise, frequently on an emergency or “fire-drill” basis, which can result in compounding process deficiencies
|Facilitates predictable, lower maintenance costs by streamlining processes, allocating labor, and reducing downtime
|If the established schedule works as intended, preventative plans can also result in predictable, lower maintenance costs by simplifying processes, allocating labor, and reducing downtime
|Unpredictable, high maintenance costs and increased downtime which is often compounded by multiple system failures as a result of a critical malfunction
*While predictive maintenance plans technically fall under the umbrella of preventative maintenance, they have been separated here to highlight the essential efficiency gains available with a predictive approach
Relying on predictive or, at least, preventive care is crucial for any company looking to maximize productivity and reliability while improving safety, reducing cost, and remaining competitive. Once a facility has decided to utilize preventative maintenance as a strategy, implementation becomes a key concern. What is the right tool for the job? What will track maintenance reliably without creating more work for supervisors or general laborers?
The best solution is to use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). These programs replace the combination of spreadsheets and equipment manuals that have traditionally been utilized to keep up with equipment needs. A good CMMS should be accessible on any device and extremely user friendly. Additionally, geolocation, compatibility with other “smart” systems in the facility, and analytical tools to continuously adapt the maintenance schedule based on actual equipment failures are essential features.
When getting set up with a CMMS, the facility will need to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to use as a basis for measuring failures and improving maintenance schedules. Analysis should be done to determine the common causes of these failures. Historical data on required interventions and equipment life-cycle should also be collected and taken into consideration.
Because all facilities utilize a unique set of technologies, there is no one-size-fits-all preventive or predictive maintenance strategy. However, a successful program will reduce equipment downtime and improve operations and reliability at every stage of the manufacturing process.