In order to benefit maximally from the potential of effective maintenance, the fact that maintenance is carried out regularly is not enough on its own. The how also plays an important role. Despite the increased awareness of the topic: Many companies today still perform maintenance purely on an interval basis. Interval-controlled maintenance means that storage and retrieval machines (SRM), electronics or control technology are inspected and maintained at specified dates in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating instructions and statutory guidelines. However, only individual, lifecycle-oriented maintenance planning guarantees companies maximum availability over the entire service life of the plants and optimum protection against malfunctions and failures. TELOGS GmbH, a maintenance service provider for automated logistics systems based in Wettenberg near Giessen, has specialized in this task.
Individual maintenance plans
How maintenance should be carried out depends largely on the intensity of use of a plant, its age and the condition of the technology. In order to find the right solution for your own requirements, it is advisable to develop an individual maintenance plan. This represents the basis for all work on the plant and guarantees the operator legal certainty. It is based, among other things, on a hazard analysis that determines the condition of the warehouse and conveyor technology and identifies potential weak points. The inspection and maintenance intervals are to be determined on the basis of the findings obtained in this way. These should be based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and supporting guidelines. In addition, intensity of use and individual requirements for the availability of the plant must be taken into account.
The operational implementation of the maintenance plan should be carried out together with experienced personnel. Here, plant operators can choose between three classic solution paths. Maintenance with your own resources has the advantage that those responsible know their plant down to the smallest detail. However, it is increasingly difficult for companies to acquire the extensive technical know-how they need and to develop it continuously. Option number two is to use the manufacturer’s services, which usually involves coordinating multiple vendors within a facility. The third alternative often requires less coordination: outsourcing maintenance to an external service provider. Vendor-neutral providers such as TELOGS have the appropriately qualified personnel and all the necessary certificates and authorizations to competently perform inspection, maintenance, repair and testing of a system.
Caution instead of indulgence
Preventive measures are part of a comprehensive maintenance concept. TELOGS service technicians, for example, prepare a detailed report on the condition of a system after each scheduled maintenance. This shows which parts should be replaced before or during the next scheduled maintenance. Operators can thus act at an early stage and further optimize the availability of their logistics. Among the elements that should be looked at particularly critically as part of predictive maintenance are transfer cars and loops, which occupy a key position in the plant. Personal protective equipment against falls from a height (PPE) is essential for work in high-bay warehouses. It, too, must be expertly inspected on a regular basis, but at least every twelve months. Another prerequisite for successful lifecycle-oriented maintenance is a functioning spare parts management system. If a company works with an external service provider, the delivery times for spare parts should be requested and, if necessary, contractually agreed.
Irrespective of this, it is advisable to stock particularly important plant components yourself – for example, in your own spare parts warehouse. In the event of a malfunction, replacement can then take place immediately. Which and how many parts a company should have in stock on a continuous basis varies from individual to individual. Customers who operate refrigerated logistics are advised to have an extensive inventory of spare parts, due to the perishable nature of the goods. Because in this industry, failures quickly lead to significant costs. Regardless of this, the selection of spare parts to be stocked should absolutely be based on logistical and technical criteria. Spare parts for key elements in the material flow are particularly important. Ideally, these items are procured with the new installation and the inventory is adjusted again and again during ongoing operations.
Response times and personnel planning
In the event of malfunctions, the requirements for plant availability determine the accessibility and response time of the technical staff. Individual agreements can be made with an external service provider for this purpose. A provider that can be reached via a fault hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has the ideal prerequisites. It is also important that the hotline is staffed by experienced employees who can quickly assess the nature and severity of a fault and respond accordingly. The response times are to be adapted to the individual requirements of the plant operator. On request, a TELOGS service technician can, for example, be on site within four hours to carry out repairs to the system. The greatest possible security is ensured by outsourcing the entire maintenance to an external service provider. In this case, part of the service staff is continuously on site and responds immediately when needed.
Sometimes regular and proactive maintenance and servicing, whether with in-house or external capacities, is no longer sufficient to ensure reliable processes in the warehouse. In such a case, however, it is not always necessary to replace the entire system. Often, modernization is also an option to extend the life cycle of the storage and material handling equipment. Today, TELOGS service technicians can replace virtually any electrical or mechanical part of a logistics system, significantly rejuvenating it. Classic objects of a retrofit are the renewal of the drive and control technology, the mechanics and/or the sensor technology. In order for the modernization to be carried out successfully, plant operators should provide the service provider with up-to-date and complete technical documentation of their storage and conveying equipment. For example, it lists in detail how the logistics system is constructed, which components are installed where, and which parts have already been repaired or modified in the past. In the case of an already old plant, there is often no or only incomplete technical documentation. In such a case, manufacturer-neutral service providers such as TELOGS create new documentation as part of the modernization process, which then serves as the basis for further maintenance and servicing. To avoid unpleasant surprises, the compatibility of new components with the rest of the technology should not be the only consideration during retrofitting. The long-term availability of components on the market should also be ensured. This makes it possible to procure spare parts in a time- and cost-efficient manner in the event of subsequent repairs.