Developments in Dutch maintenance

In Dutch literature, attention has only been paid to the manner in which maintenance is carried out in companies after the 1970s. In that period, the emphasis is mainly on tasks deployed within the maintenance department. Before that, maintenance is nothing more than lubricating and cleaning machines by machine operators. After that date attention also arises in the literature for the manager who is approachable for the organization of maintenance.

Much of the literature from that time is focused on the proper functioning of this department, with methods aimed at improving efficiency playing the most important role. From that time on, maintenance departments (especially at large companies) have defined responsibilities, authorities and structures. Literature from that time also discusses implementation of standard Operation Research tools for planning, cost calculation of work, standard times, stock systems, with efficiency gaining as the most important driver.

The major advantage of this development is that the maintenance function as such get attention. The disadvantage is that with the establishment of a department, the maintenance problem can be considered as settled. As a result, the maintenance function has become an isolated position within many companies. Proper maintenance has become dependent on Operations Research techniques (Scientific Management). As a result, there is much less attention on integration with other organizational functions (Operations Management). This unnatural split can still be found in many companies.

Because of this division, maintenance as a business function is difficult to influence, certainly in relation to changes outside the maintenance department. Such interventions are compelled by replacement, different usage intensity, redesign or demolition. After the 1970s, the need for better management continues to grow. Maintenance changes as a result of contributions, expectations of various other departments in the company. Operating conditions within companies becomes increasingly based on operations research techniques (including quality, production loss). For the first time, relationships are being made between saving maintenance costs and constructing assets. However, maintenance is still seen as a cost item, where the amount of the costs can hardly be influenced or is known to the person involved.

In the second half of the 1980s, the interest in management and control became more specific. The role of management or the influence of information systems or the relationship with the environment is discussed. New solutions are also provided such as Total Production Management (TPM), forms of matrix organization or new information systems.

In the early 1990s there was also a development towards integrated concepts for sustainable asset management. The relationship between having and using and the departments involved are central. Central to the literature is always: integration of all necessary input from different departments. There is also attention for maintenance and policy-making at the top of the organization. For the first time, there is scarcity due to raw materials, care for the environment and there was also an oil crisis. It can be concluded that the maintenance task from an exclusively technical function has evolved into a management function that determines the continuity of the organization.

Maintenance management and organization are evolving from traditional to industrial. This can be seen in the organization structure, the structured cooperation with adjacent functions and the use of information systems specialized for maintenance. The maintenance manager then develops into a real manager.

In addition, there is decentralization of maintenance tasks. This means that more decisions are made at the basis of the organization. At the same time, the scope for decision-making is limited by more and clearer policies. All this appeals to the managerial qualities of those involved. The solutions are in the sphere of task expansion, matrix organization and decentralized information systems. Ways to achieve task expansion during that time are the replacement of detailed instructions with clear objectives and policies, increasing responsibilities, and forming effective teams.

Due to new information systems, many new possibilities for data processing and reporting are created. The new information systems make much more organizational possible than was previously the case. On the other hand, the need for centralization with larger maintenance services increases due to the delegation of preparatory tasks to the executive level.

With the advent of automated information systems, small operational groups need to be considered with decentralized powers. That is different from the traditional technical services that they ‘report to the management’ via monthly and quarterly statements. Despite the arrival of many OM tools, the emergence of information technology and the focus on the lifespan of assets, an integrated maintenance theory is still missing. There is also no integrated vision of the relationship between disruptions and the consequences for the organization, coherence between disruptions and maintenance. But there is also no integrated maintenance concept for complex systems.

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