Why you should document manufacturing equipment maintenance

Manufacturing equipment maintenance is essential for ensuring the longevity of your capital investments. It’s also a great source of data that you can use to reduce overhead costs, injury rates, and operational failures. To reap these benefits, however, you need to document maintenance activities consistently.

Benefits of documenting maintenance

Documentation can be a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it for ensuring the longevity of your manufacturing equipment. Beyond the machinery itself, there are other benefits to recordkeeping that can improve performance by providing useful data. Here are some reasons why:

Incident investigations: If equipment is involved in a safety incident, having detailed maintenance records may help you find the root cause.

Accountability: Tracking manufacturing equipment maintenance allows you to verify that your team finishes tasks in a timely manner so you can hold maintenance personnel accountable to their workloads.

Diagnostics: If your equipment malfunctions, you can refer to the maintenance logs to figure out when the issue(s) started.

General serviceability: Keeping maintenance records can help with the general serviceability of the equipment, ensuring that it stays operational for longer.

These benefits apply to heavy equipment and small tools alike. Of course, it’s not just about what you track but also the quality of the information you collect.

Details you should track

As the saying goes: “garbage in, garbage out.” You can only benefit from maintenance documents if the information in them is relevant and detailed. Maintenance logs should provide a full history of the equipment’s lifespan.

Get more out of the documentation process by answering the following questions in your equipment maintenance logs:

  • Who serviced the equipment?
  • When was the last date and time that the equipment was serviced?
  • What issues (if any) did you find?
  • What issues (if any) did you fix?
  • Did you replace any parts? If so, which ones?
  • Did you have to order any replacement parts or components?
  • What concerns (if any) do you have about the equipment’s functionality?
  • What concerns (if any) do you have about the equipment’s safety?
  • Is the equipment clear for employee use?

A digital documentation system is better than pen and paper because the records are easier to access and less likely to get lost. You can use a shared file drive or a spreadsheet to track everything. It may take some trial and error to come up with a process that suits your operation.

Tips for documenting maintenance

You can improve your maintenance tracking process by:

  • Using the same format for all your records
  • Digitizing the process with action tracking software
  • Making the maintenance records visible throughout the company
  • Completing documentation audits every quarter
  • Ensuring that all tasks have a clear owner

Documentation strategies often fall apart when management doesn’t audit them regularly. The best practice is to review maintenance documents every few weeks or months to make sure your team follows the process. If they don’t, ask why. Oftentimes, you’ll get complaints that documenting everything is too time-consuming or tedious. In that case, you can look for ways to improve the process so it’s easier to follow and maintain over time.

Manufacturing equipment documentation with Frontline

Our action tracking system, Frontline ACT, is perfect for tracking maintenance activities. With it, you can create and assign tasks, upload attachments, manage deadlines, build progress reports, and more.

Equipment maintenance tracking with Frontline

This short webinar explains how you can document maintenance activities with Frontline EHS.

And for critical machinery or PSM-regulated manufacturing equipment, use Frontline MOC to carefully manage changes. This ensures that the modifications you make during maintenance, repairs, or replacements don’t negatively impact health, safety, or operational performance.