Keep value flows moving: maintenance policy selection to improve safety and reliability of escalators and other assets

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
Information and Service Management (ISM)
In recent years digitalization and other global trends have resulted in a change in the way that maintenance is performed in many industries. There is a large body of research on the subject of maintenance policy in general, and an ever-growing wealth of technical studies that detail new maintenance techniques. However, the majority of maintenance research focuses on high risk sectors, closed systems, or is highly application oriented. Very little research can be found on maintenance decision making and policy choices for less controlled or less straightforward maintenance applications, such as the maintenance of escalators dispersed throughout a building or a city. This research builds on the existing knowledge and literature about maintenance policy options and how they are implemented in various industries and investigates maintenance policy decision making in the context of transfer systems. It introduces a common set of terminology around maintenance policy choices that should improve clarity and communication. Matrices have been developed to classify transfer system types based on their system structure and flow characteristics. System types have been named and described as light, stable, dynamic and heavy loads based on their features, and four maintenance policies have been defined and matched to the system types based on the literature and empirical findings. This work explains why digitalized, condition-based maintenance should be considered as two separate categories of maintenance depending on whether the primary mode of maintenance decision making is time-based or condition-based. This work provides clarity into what outcomes, benefits and risks can be expected from different kinds of maintenance. The primary motivating factor in this research is to improve escalator safety. While it is known that better maintenance practices result in safer escalators, the lack of research in this area means that the root causes of escalator accidents often aren’t clear, and it is rarely possible to connect the dots between accidents and which components of escalators should have been better maintained. This thesis will recommend actions to improve escalator safety. The research is conducted as a multiple case study with an abductive methodology. A total of six case companies were interviewed in order to provide a broad understanding of maintenance and safety trends across industries. The primary case company and sponsor of the research is a Finnish escalator manufacturer that has expressed a need to develop an understanding of new ways of doing maintenance in a world with increasing digitalization. In addition to empirical data collected in interviews, a variety of internal documentation, safety feature tests and publicly available data was collected and analyzed from the case companies.
Thesis advisor
Vepsäläinen, Ari
Saarinen, Timo
maintenance, maintenance policy, digitalization, transfer systems, escalator, safety, end-user centricity
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