In this episode of Kellerman Consulting’s Maintenance and Repair series, we are going to look at properly performing and documenting repairs as part of the safety program, and as part of the non-conformance and corrective action program.
As we review the quality concepts involved in repair, we want to separate repairs into two basic categories: those repairs that are a result of regular wear of the equipment, and repairs when unexpected or irregular damage occurs.
The first type of repairs, those stemming from normal wear of the equipment is not a non-conformance. So where a consumable part of equipment, for example the blade in a slicer wears out, the repair of the slicer by swapping out of the blade is a conforming part of operations, provided the swapping out was done according to instructions and expectations of the supervisors and management.
Many operational programs track downtime where repairs like this are required during operations, and the tracking of that downtime and citing the breakdown as the reason is sufficient to monitor that repair.
It is the repairs that are the results of accidents, negligence or misuse that are non-conforming, and when repairs for these events are performed, a non-conformance report is often also required.
A common example of a repair caused by a non-conforming accident occurs when fork lifts are operated in areas with plastic curtains. It is common in these facilities for one or more curtains to get caught in the fork lift, and when that happens, the entire frame may get pulled out of the wall, with significant damage.
Whenever an event like this occurs, a root cause investigation is required, and a corresponding corrective action and preventive action should also be performed.
Since a repair is also required, the best practice is to have two sets of reports prepared, the first report would be the non-conformance root cause report, which should be filled out by the Quality Assurance or Operations Team.
The second report is the work order or repair report, which should be filled out by the maintenance personnel. These two reports, the non-conformance report and the repair report may be combined into one report if one person is responsible for both and chooses to save some time writing it down once or may be written separately and kept together.
Regardless of the approach, each accident should include the information required for the repair and the non-conformance, and should be presented to Senior Management as part of the management review of the program.
In looking at the information we need for a proper documentation of repair, we should always indicate who performed the repair, the day and time of the repair, who verified the repair, and a signature line for approval by management.
Where a temporary repair is made, such as using duct tape or zip ties for broken machine pieces, or welding sheet metal to corroding pipes, there needs to be a documented plan to make permanent repairs as a follow up. Here a permanent repair is a replacement part and removal of the tape or zip tie, and replacing the corroded pipes where the sheet metal is in place, and the documentation is a work order or written evidence of purchased materials to be used for permanent repair.
Additionally, we must also sign off that all tools used for repair were removed following the repair, and that cleaning was performed and verified if work occurs in a food production area. The reason these last two details are important in a quality and safety management system is because lack of cleaning and sanitizing may affect the safety or quality of product run through equipment after the repair, and a forgotten tool or chemical may accidentally fall or leak into product if left unattended.
Beyond the documentation on clean up and tool removal after the repair, it is also important to keep track of the number of repairs we have to perform on pieces of equipment or areas of the facility over the course of each year to look for patterns or signs of larger problems.
If these activities are successful, it should result in an observable decrease in the overall number of repairs, and the downtime on the line. In our next episode, we are going to look at chemical controls and worker safety in preventive maintenance and repair.
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