ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- At the beginning of July, when most of the rest of the installation was on leave, the Directorate of Public Works' Equipment Support Division was hard at work.

The ESD is responsible for ensuring all production equipment in the industrial area is operating properly.

Scheduled shutdowns, such as the one held here the week of July 4, help ensure they can keep up with preventative maintenance and other repairs.

"Shutdowns allow my technicians to go into a shop with no interference or safety hazards from additional personnel or running equipment," said Ronald Gregg, maintenance supervisor for DPW.

With the exception of the Independence Day holiday and Sunday, the ESD worked 12-hour days from June 30 to July 8, ensuring more than 100 pieces of production equipment - from cranes to vats - received the care needed to keep the depot moving.

"All DPW shops worked together to accomplish the mission," said Gregg. "They did a good job, did it safely and got a lot accomplished."

The depot's next scheduled shutdown is in December and Gregg and his crew will once again be working throughout the holiday week to ensure machinery is operational when employees return to work.

Gregg said there are five phases his division performs for each shutdown:

Scoping - determining what needs to be done during the shutdown.

Planning - deciding how to do the work that must be performed.

Scheduling - selecting when each piece of equipment will receive preventative or repair work.

Execution - doing the work.

Wrap up - evaluating the results.

Every asset and production machine on depot has a life cycle.

According to Gregg, a good preventative maintenance program maximizes those life cycles, ensuring optimal performance and productive value.

"A proper preventative maintenance program reduces maintenance costs by minimizing downtime and reactive repairs through systematic equipment checks," said Gregg.

He stated operators may notice a bearing, pump, motor or other component which isn't operating as it should during their checks.

Between shutdowns, each machine operator plays a vital role in keeping the equipment running.

"An operator's daily, weekly or monthly checks are just as important as the technicians," said Gregg. "During these operator checks, they may find a potential problem before the technician is scheduled to be back and can submit a work order before the machine malfunctions."

Some equipment throughout the installation has placards attached detailing the checklist instructions. Additional placards will be added in the future.

Preventative maintenance, such as oil changes, lubrication, minor adjustments, tests and measurements, which are scheduled throughout the year, can also ensure production equipment functions when needed.