As Food Engineering searches for a new editor-in-chief, this month the editor’s note is under construction, so to speak. Instead, the editors will highlight this issue’s offerings, which focus on replacement parts and maintenance.

While maintenance is not always the sexiest topic to address, having a strategy for it is essential to avoid equipment failure and unscheduled downtime, which almost always means valuable time and money lost. Each year, we conduct the Replacement Parts and Components Trends Study to provide a snapshot of the industry’s latest methods used to improve efficiency in replacement parts and components in food and beverage plants. The key objectives are to identify who is responsible for the decisions made in replacing parts at facilities and how these individuals are reaching their conclusions. The study also determines what factors are considered most important in selecting a supplier and what maintenance strategies and inventory management practices are currently utilized.

The Annual Replacement Parts Directory is a handy tool to find suppliers of the components you need to keep your lines up and running. However, the tools you use to manage your parts inventory and schedule maintenance work may be in serious need of updating. As Excel is an improvement over logbooks, an outdated ERP system managing some business aspects of your maintenance dollars might need an upgrade to perform more maintenance management system functions.

An article about computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) details how they not only help schedule maintenance before failures happen, but also manage your parts inventory and feed that data into your company’s ERP system. The good news is that CMMSs work in real-time, prioritizing work, alerting technicians via mobile devices, sending them to affected equipment and keeping downtime at a bare minimum. Plus, cloud-based systems are making CMMSs more affordable and easier to implement. And, if you’re wondering how to get existing data into the CMMS, these suppliers are ready, willing and able to help.