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What is Plant Maintenance?

By Klaus Strasser
Updated May 17, 2024
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Plant maintenance usually refers to the methods, strategies, and practices used to keep an industrial factory running efficiently. This can include anything from regular checks of equipment to make sure they are functioning properly, to cleaning garbage bins and toilets. The general aim of plant maintenance is to create a productive working environment that is also safe for workers.

Since there are many different types of plants and factories, the ways to maintain these facilities often vary. For example, a steel mill will have different machinery than a food processing plant. This means that each place of business generally has its own maintenance plan, tailored to its particularities. A maintenance plan can include scheduling times for equipment checkups, trouble-shooting, and general clean-up.

Most plants employ their own maintenance staff. This can include workers such as on-site engineers, whose job is to make sure that machines continue to operate effectively. This is an especially important for plants that use equipment designed for assembly lines, since a stoppage of the line can be financially damaging.

Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is a maintenance strategy that is often employed in factories. This is an approach that not only seeks to maintain minimal levels of plant efficiency, but also looks for ways to improve production. RCM can include determining how to increase operating procedures, such as maximizing a machine's uptime, which means increasing the amount of time the equipment is actually producing. Such an increase can be accomplished by various means, like adding more workers to a machine or by making engineering changes.

Preventative maintenance is also an important aspect of making sure a plant runs efficiently. One common preventative measure is the periodic checking of machinery to see if it is operating correctly. This can prevent equipment from breaking down, or help to anticipate a possible problem that would otherwise cost the plant money because of a work stoppage.

Janitors are an important part of plant maintenance. These maintenance technicians do not work directly with machines, but instead make sure that the plant facilities are clean and safe. This can include anything from removing garbage to cleaning bathrooms and eating areas. Many times, janitors will be responsible for the maintenance of the factory floor — and keeping it clean of any spills that could be dangerous to equipment operators.

There are also many private plant maintenance companies. These firms are generally contracted by a factory to check equipment and make repairs. They can also perform tasks, such as corrosion prevention, acid proofing, or repairing concrete floors.

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Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On May 03, 2012

@Iluviaporos - I think sometimes they are asking for plant experience more because they need to make sure you are going to be OK working around machinery, rather than because they want you to work directly with the machinery.

Generally they are going to want qualified engineers or mechanics to really work with the equipment. Plant maintenance services are generally quite specialized since anything worth maintaining is going to be really expensive. They don't want their average workers messing around with it.

But, they do want their average workers to be savvy enough that they aren't going to, say, get a finger caught in the machine.

So, even if all you are going to be doing is making sure the gears are properly oiled, or that the rubbish bins nearby are being taken care of, experience is definitely going to be a plus in your application.

By lluviaporos — On May 03, 2012

I've been looking at applying for a new job recently and I've been surprised by how many jobs require experience with plant maintenance.

But, I never realized that that could include things like janitorial work. I always assumed it meant something more like plant equipment maintenance.

It seems like something I could probably pick up fairly quickly, but I don't have any direct experience with it. It's a real problem with getting a job that they won't hire you without experience and you can't get experience until they hire you.

I guess all I can do is apply and try to word it so that it sounds like I've at least got experience at cleaning up stuff, even if I don't have experience with plant equipment yet.

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