November 18, 2022

| 8 min read

Tips, tricks and tools to make audits easier and cheaper for maintenance teams

The maintenance department is a critical part of any business. It’s responsible for keeping company assets in good working order and keeping their value high. If you don’t do maintenance audits, you may not know how well your assets are being maintained or whether there’s room for improvement. Fortunately, doing maintenance audits is easy and affordable if you follow these steps:

How to audit a maintenance department

A maintenance audit assesses how well your company’s maintenance department is operating. The audit is used to identify areas of improvement for the maintenance team.

  1. The first step is to determine the areas for improvement. This may include things like:
    • How repairs are scheduled and carried out
    • The efficiency of existing systems or equipment
    • Policies, procedures, and standards related to asset management
    • Training programs for employees

    If you are considering performing a maintenance audit, it’s important to remember that an audit is only as good as the information it is based on.

  2. The second step is to gather information through interviews with key personnel in your organization. For example, if you are looking at training programs in place for employees, then it makes sense to speak with those employees who have undergone training as well as their supervisors.
  3. The third step is to review the budgets and costs for the maintenance team.
  4. Once the audit is completed the last step is to develop a maintenance audit plan.

What is a maintenance audit plan?

A maintenance audit plan is a document that outlines the maintenance activities for an organization and what needs to be checked during an audit. It’s used to describe the maintenance activities of an organization.

What are some examples to look out for during an internal maintenance audit?

When performing a maintenance audit, you should look for the following examples:

  • Leaks. These may be small or large and can point to larger problems leading to equipment failure. Keep an eye out for leaks in any machine or equipment and make sure they’re addressed immediately so they don’t get worse over time. You can use a CMMS as part of your audit and assist your maintenance team with leak detection and repair.
  • Equipment failure. If something isn’t working right, it could lead to bigger problems down the road—and if left alone long enough, it could cause serious injury. Check your machines regularly to make sure they are running properly and making enough products so they don’t break down while being used by consumers, customers, patients, etc.
  • Lockout tagout. It’s very important to ensure that all LOTO devices are in the correct locations and are being used correctly.
  • Equipment and safety guards. Teams need to check that equipment is running properly, that safety guards are in place and any scissor lifts are working as expected. Harnesses and ladders need to also be stored properly.
  • Storage of hazardous materials. Oils, gasses, or other hazardous materials need to be stored properly, and during an audit, these materials must be thoroughly checked to meet safety regulations. In addition, the team should ensure that they have their material safety data sheets easily accessible.

Discover five causes of equipment failure and how to prevent them

How to make audits easier and cheaper with Fiix’s CMMS

Step #1 – Track employee health and safety records

User profiles can be set up on Fiix’s CMMS and populated with important health and safety information. This includes certifications and training. Technicians can then be organized into different categories with the user group tool. Maintenance managers can customize what each person can see and do in the software. This is handy when ensuring all employees have the proper credentials to perform a task and prove it to auditors.

Step #2 – Attach necessary materials to equipment profiles

Fiix’s CMMS allows users to attach health and safety materials and media to asset profiles. Asset profiles can include MSDS forms, SOPs, OHSA guidelines, maintenance checklists, and more. Technicians can also add photos to a profile to show that a problem was identified and corrected. These actions show a commitment to health and safety. This makes an audit easier and quicker, and a passing grade more certain.

Step #3 – Master the reporting function

Fiix’s reporting function allows users to collect data, select relevant metrics and create a report in minutes. The CMMS allows a facility to track stats like emissions, asset efficiency, and the number of inspections, among others. This information is used to quickly generate reports to show auditors proof of compliance and make audits easier. It can also be used internally to ensure improvements are being made and the facility is being run as efficiently as possible.

Step #4 – Create a history of audits and work orders

Track and archive work orders, audits, and other maintenance tasks with Fiix’s maintenance software. For example, the root cause analysis (RCA) function can identify the cause of failure in an asset and track the steps taken to correct it. Because this information is in one place, it is easy to retrieve the history of assets or a group of assets. This makes it easy to prove a pattern of compliance and show all necessary activities were completed on time and according to standards.

Step #5 – Use the scheduling feature

Fiix’s scheduling feature makes it easy to plan health and safety tasks according to compliance timelines. This function triggers an alert when maintenance is needed, so you can ensure you never miss a task again. Once the necessary maintenance is put into the schedule, it also acts as a secondary record of compliance. The schedule also ensures health and safety checks happen at a time that optimizes productivity as well.

How do you conduct a maintenance audit checklist?

When conducting a maintenance audit checklist, there are six steps you can follow:

  1. List the items to be checked.
  2. List the date of the last inspection. If you don’t know it offhand, look at your records or ask an employee who is familiar with these systems.
  3. List the date of the next inspection. This should be done as soon as possible after you have made your initial list, even if nothing has changed since then, it’s good practice to check everything again after a while so that you’re aware if anything has changed (and needs attention).
  4. List everything that needs doing and when—whether this means purchasing new parts for repairs or simply calling someone in for repairs will depend on what’s needed for each item on your list. Be sure to keep track of this information so that nothing slips through the cracks.

What is a maintenance audit report?

A maintenance audit report is a document that summarizes the results of a maintenance audit. It typically includes:

  • A summary of your company’s current maintenance practices, including any issues with your current process.
  • A list of recommendations for improving these practices, for example, ways to save on time and costs by streamlining certain tasks or automating them.
  • A plan for implementing these recommendations, including timelines and action items that need to be completed before moving on to the next step (e.g., training staff in new procedures).

What is a preventative maintenance audit?

Preventative maintenance audits are performed to identify potential problems and develop plans to prevent them. They’re typically conducted by a third party, such as an independent engineer or auditor. The audit can be done either internally or externally, depending on your needs.

A preventative maintenance audit should be scheduled every 12 months (or every 6 months for highly critical systems) in order to comply with regulatory standards as well as maintain your facility’s compliance with industry standards. Depending on the type of audit you need to conduct, preventive maintenance audits could be a regular part of your compliance schedule.

Types of audits (and how to make them easier)

Audits happen in almost every industry for a variety of reasons, such as safety, compliance with environmental regulations, and to gauge the health of a company ahead of potential business deals.

But even though they’re common, audits aren’t always easy. They are often time-consuming and expensive. Information can slip through the cracks, accurate data is hard to get, and a lack of accessibility makes the data you do have useless. Without a centralized source of knowledge, it’s difficult to make audits easier, and a passing grade is never certain. With the high cost of failure comes huge headaches and a potential loss of thousands or millions of dollars.

Focusing on compliant maintenance practices can prevent a disastrous domino effect, and reduce the likelihood of fines, lost production, high turnover, workplace injury, and bad publicity.

Having the right tools and processes is crucial for a successful audit. Collecting important data and organizing it digitally can substantially raise your chances of passing. Digitization also opens the door to a variety of tools that make audits easier and cheaper. The maintenance team can access records, create reports and implement preventive maintenance strategies more effectively.

The following are some of the most common types of audits that manufacturers face and how digital knowledge hubs can help make audits easier for facilities.

Environmental audits

Environmental audits measure how manufacturers affect the environment based on set criteria. These criteria are usually dependent on industry and can include wastewater management, carbon emissions, and energy use. Environmental audits also identify ways manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact. These audits usually happen because of environmental legislation (such as the laws set forth by the EPA), certification (like ISO or LEED), or overwhelming customer requests.

Digital maintenance software, such as a CMMS, can help facilities prepare for environmental audits. It can keep a database of assets and procedures, track documentation on pollutant discharges, and build work histories. It allows facilities to quickly analyze and correct failures, which improves efficiency and lowers emissions. The software makes it simple to compile data, create reports and show auditors how a facility is operating to standards.

Food safety audits

Food safety audits ensure manufacturers are meeting all food handling and processing standards. Food safety audits can be used to prove compliance (like for the FDA), for certification (like ISO 22000 or GFSI), or to recapture the public’s trust after a highly publicized recall.

A recent FDA survey identified “no preventive maintenance” as the 5th most common problem in the US food processing industry. Facilities can tackle this issue and pass audits using a CMMS or other digital maintenance solution to create a knowledge hub. Maintenance software provides audit logs and a history of work for every asset, which makes improvements easier and a preventive maintenance routine. Technicians can also keep better tabs on equipment with a database of parts and can ensure replacement parts are clean, up to standards, and free of contamination. Documents, such as safety manuals and maintenance checklists, can be attached to an asset’s profile. This not only makes PMs quicker but also reduces the risk of contamination often associated with maintenance work. Lastly, technicians or managers can retrieve data or create reports to prove compliance in a few clicks.

Business audits

Manufacturing facilities are often audited when a company is being acquired, merged, or joining a new partnership. These audits ask facilities for information on subcontractors, yields, backlogs, inventory, environmental performance, safety records, and asset reliability. Audits can also help facilities save on insurance as they prove assets are likely to be well-maintained.

Some organizations require facilities to have preventive maintenance programs in place before working with them. Using a digital maintenance platform to collect, store and access information can go a long way to creating a solid PM strategy. Digital tools can reduce downtime by making it simple to schedule maintenance, process work orders, and build a library of documents. They can also make managing health and safety, inventory, and environmental records easier. These steps improve productivity and make facilities more desirable.

Health and safety audits

Health and safety audits are usually conducted by government agencies to ensure compliance with legislation, like the OHSA. They can also be performed by a third-party auditor and used to evaluate a company’s health and safety strategies while identifying areas of improvement.

Digital maintenance software allows maintenance teams to create an accurate and in-depth library of information. Having this information available on the mobile device in your pocket can make audits easier. Mobile maintenance software can trace work histories, link OSHA guidelines to equipment, and create maintenance checklists. Having these resources in one place reduces the number of potentially dangerous corrective tasks. The software can also track employee training and certification, safety inspections, and reports that show how a facility has improved over time.

How audits affect your bottom line

When you add up fines, lost business, lost production, waste, extra parts and over time, it’s clear that inefficient and failed audits cost a lot of money. A knowledge hub can help to cut these unnecessary costs out of the equation.

Having information on a digital platform makes it more accessible for technicians so they can do preventive maintenance quickly and correctly. Inputting and analyzing all data in one place, with a few clicks, speeds up the reporting process. Providing work histories and facility improvements to an auditor takes a few minutes rather than a few days. Saving all this time means more productivity and fewer labor costs. An improved auditing process can even lead to certifications and a stronger reputation, which gives your company a competitive edge.

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