Optimising Maintenance Workshop Capacity

Apr 8, 2020 10:54:51 AM


One of the most common studies we do at Bluefield is reviewing workshop bay requirements, using a spreadsheet tool we developed to calculate Workshop Capacity Requirements. The key factor in determining the number of bays required is equipment availability.  

The lower the equipment availability, the higher the demand for workshop space to carry out maintenance.  

We calculate the number of bays required by comparing available bay hours against maintenance hours required by the fleet.  

So far, this method is great on paper because the only maintenance we do in our industries is scheduled and proactive maintenance, right?  

Wrong. Reactive, unplanned maintenance is what throws a spanner in the works.  

While we conduct these workshop studies in their own right based on equipment availability, the goal, and what we emphasise at Bluefield, is to increase equipment availability by looking at a company’s operations as a whole, which also includes the culture of the people. We call the all-encompassing approach a Bluefield Transformation.   

We also have to acknowledge that not all workshop bays are made equal. We have to consider what maintenance activities the operation requires, and often the need for tyre bays, weld bays, wash bays, paint bays and general service bays are identified. Principal Asset Management Specialist Peter Lee has previously written in further detail about the general process here. 

Understanding the practical aspects of a maintenance strategy, and the maintenance tasks it requires, can also highlight ways to save on design and construction costs. 

Let's have a look at a real-world example of optimising maintenance workshop capacity 


That's right, 30% - not an insignificant figure at all.  

By working with the client to help them analyse their asset types, maintenance requirements, and strategies, we recommended design changes that streamlined their maintenance practices without compromising their ability to hit their expansion production target. 

Some of the recommendations are listed below:. 

Truck and Drill Rig Bays 

We reduced the planned truck bays by 20% by standardising their strategies (preventative maintenance and repair activities) all while sizing for flexibility with unplanned maintenance. 

We also reduced drill rig bays by a whopping 60%, while simultaneously increasing the number of drill rigs by 20%. We pointed out that a lot of minor servicing is conducted in the field for this type of plant, whereas the capital expansion project assumed the rigs would be moved back to the workshop. 

Questioning Activity Types 

Another saving waste identified was by questioning the specification in the workshop to see if they really actually needed to do a specific jacking activity that would introduce significant point loads on the workshop floor slab, therefore requiring substantial concrete slab detailing requirements.  

Fewer point loads require less concrete and reinforcement in concrete slabs, therefore, saving a good chunk of capital costs.  

We also posed this question: was the proposed 2-stage expansion project necessary? We suggested eliminating the short term expansion stage one and streamlining the long term stage two. The funding curve for capital throughout the expansion would be similar to the 2-stage development, but they could also achieve their production target goal quicker and eliminate some of the temporary measures proposed in the first stage, which were deemed as wasted effort.  

Elimination of Overhead Crane in a Workshop 

In another workshop study we questioned if an overhead crane was truly needed.  Based on the limited requirement for performing lifting activities in the workforce, we suggested a mobile solution was a better fit. 

Making this recommendation saved on life cycle maintenance costs of an overhead crane, as statutory maintenance is required, whether the crane is used 10 hours or 1000 hours in a year. Concrete and structural foundations for a workshop with an overhead crane requires beefed-up designs and structural integrity management. This is done to ensure no settlement of the foundation occurs, or shifting of the structural elements.  

The cost/benefit ratio of the overhead crane was analysed and deemed not to provide value.  

We suggested a mobile crane would offer more flexibility and could be used to flip bodies and trucks, which is hard to do with a single overhead crane. A mobile crane solution would eliminate the overhead crane inspections and maintenance (deferred to a lifting contractor in this case), stringent workshop foundation and structural design requirements. 

Quite an elegant solution, don't you think?  

Get the Workshop Capacity Requirement tool (spreadsheet) here. 

Get other free tools here