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  • AutorenbildRalf Pühler

Predicting Life Cycle Costs for Maintenance Management

How does one achieve optimal plant operation in relation to maintenance? Production would like to maximize equipment performance and management would like to minimize maintenance costs. Although operational reliability is important for all, maintenance actions are often postponed, and preventive maintenance and change planning are cut in the name of cost-efficiency.

As awareness of costs and malfunctions increases in the organization; this machine- and operator-related data monitoring can be used to control the maintenance of existing production lines. Preparation makes for efficient preventive maintenance and stoppages, and allows the timing and amounts of spare part orders to be optimised.

Maintenance costs as part of production line life cycle costs

Life cycle cost can be divided into three main phases: the procurement phase, the operational phase and the decommissioning phase. Costs accumulate over each phase of the life cycle of the equipment or production line, adding up to the final Life Cycle Cost.


  • design and planning costs

  • initial investment


  • operational costs

  • maintenance costs


  • decommissioning costs

At the procurement phase, the largest cost item is the initial investment, which includes the purchase price of the equipment, but also other expenses, such as installation, testing and software. However, effort should be put into the planning phase as well, as the decisions and choices made at this stage will have far-reaching effects on the whole life cycle and the associated costs.

Unlike the initial investment, operational and maintenance costs recur throughout the investment’s life cycle, comprising either relatively constant expenses – like the cost of energy, supplies and operating personnel – or cost spikes caused by for example, work, materials and lost production due to stoppages and maintenance.

Increased malfunctions and losses caused by the aging of a production line can also often be discovered when maintenance and malfunction records are reviewed. Downtime and maintenance cost data is very beneficial and should be used to optimize preventive maintenance and to plan overhauls, as this helps control the overall costs.

The costs at the end of an investment’s life cycle are caused by the decommissioning of the production line or equipment. The time is right for decommissioning, when maintenance costs reach a level where it is no longer profitable, based on the investment calculation.

Today, the life cycle of industrial investments ranges from a few years to decades. However, the funding for investments is shrinking and is focused on shorter repayment periods, i.e. return on investment is sought as soon as possible. The risk here is that urgent and short-sighted decision-making is still focused on the purchase price and not on finding the investment option with the lowest life cycle cost.

This risk can be mitigated with the help of equipment suppliers. Requests for tenders should require the suppliers to estimate the life cycle costs of their solutions. This will make the proposals easier to compare and ensure the overall cost-effectiveness of the decision over the investment’s life cycle.

Furthermore, maintenance can integrate the equipment supplier’s recommendations into maintenance planning after the equipment has been purchased, ensuring that the value of fixed assets is maintained.

The experience of operating personnel and automatic data collection solutions is utilized in the Lean.IQ approach for the service excellence model. It is essential that the organisation can easily update the model based on historical maintenance data.

Maintenance costs are a great part of a product’s life cycle costs, and it is important for everyone to identify and manage them. Without doing so, it is impossible to reach the common goal of efficient plant production (with regard to availability and cost optimization)

4 Tips to Ensure Your Technical Documentation Is Always Up-to-Date

About 30% of all service leaders state that their technical docuemntation might contain inaccuracies, many of which consist of outdated parts information.

Your company’s product design team may submit dozens of engineering change orders (ECOs) throughout the asset’s lifecycle. If engineering never informs you or other technical writers of the ECOs, then you can’t reflect those product changes in your service manuals, product catalogs, and other publications.

This poor service information management may cause technicians to order obsolete parts or execute outdated instructions. Both of these actions could warrant additional service visits and, as a result, prolong customer downtime. There are four steps you can take to avoid these issues and consistently deliver up-to-date technical documentation:

1. Digital service manuals

It was discovered that 41% of field service technicians use smartphones in their day-to-day functions. More than one-third use laptops, notebooks or hybrid devices, and 22% use tablets.

Given the prevalence of mobile devices among field service teams, it makes sense to develop digital service manuals. Doing so not only provides technicians with an easy method of accessing service information but also enables you to quickly update technical documentation when engineering introduces changes. You won’t have to reprint manuals every time an ECO occurs.

Realize digital information with intuitively design frontends and allow operators to access up-to-date information anywhere at anytime. Lean.IQ provides necessary interfaces and applications for your needs.

2. Reach out to the engineering team (really, do it)

Companies with highly effective change management and communication are “three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers.” So if you can establish a line of communication with the engineering department, there’s a good chance your field service team’s performance will surpass your competitors’.

Of course, opening that channel is half the battle. Here are a couple of tips on connecting with engineering:

  • Leverage upper management: Get your VP to speak with the VP or Director of Product Development (or Engineering, depending on your organization’s setup).

  • Chat up an engineer: Set up a meeting with a lead product designer to discuss details about your company’s products. This enables you to establish rapport and, eventually, get them enthused about enabling service.

3. Maintain a single parts database

There are two advantages of maintaining a single point of reference for your service and parts information.

First, consider your service manual’s structure. You may want to organize it according to specific procedures – installations, part replacements, and so forth. This hierarchy may contain about a dozen references to the same part. In a digital catalog, you can link those references to a single part file, eliminating the need to write duplicate content.

Second, once you have those links to the single parts database, all you have to do in the wake of an ECO is update the original file. That adjustment will proliferate across all of your technical documentation.

Lean.IQ creates connectivity between your information and the operators or service staff at a fingertip.

4. Integrate engineering and design data with your parts database

Connecting your parts database to an engineering bill of materials does require service information management software. Lean.IQ offers a standard but yet fully customizable solution.

It is worth the investment: If a designer makes changes to a part number in the original bill of materials, your technical documentation will be automatically updated to reflect that adjustment. This functionality occurs on the back end, requiring no manual intervention from technical documentation managers. Other back-end capabilities are available as you'll need to ensure your service manuals contain the most up-to-date technical information.

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